5 ways to "Take It Outside" with kids

October 14-20, 2012 is Take It Outside Week, and to quote the website, this is a time to:
celebrate the natural world and encourage educators, families and caregivers to make time outdoors an important part of young children's daily lives.
Now that's a cause I definitely support! I think that outdoor play is, quite simply, the best way for children to spend time for exercise, relaxation, and fun. Many studies show that spending time outside is good for children's health (mental as well as physical), and that it encourages exploration and imagination in ways that just doesn't happen when they're indoors.

Hiking in the woods in Lynn Canyon Park.

I know for a fact that my own kids are a lot grumpier when they're stuck inside for an entire day, and that the best way to fix that is to at least make time for some form of outdoorsy activity. British Columbia is a pretty rainy part of the world (especially in winter), so sometimes being outdoorsy means that we have to be ready to get a little wet.

Gum boots, rain coats, and umbrellas all help, of course. And even just a short walk in the rain, splashing in puddles with rain-gear on, will cheer my kids up after a day spent inside. Or, like the other day, when the kids decided all by themselves that it was a great idea to go out on the trampoline in a torrential downpour. Sure, part of my mom-brain wanted them to come inside and get out of the bad weather, but another part was just happy that they were having fun. And, once they were inside, they warmed up quick with a bath or shower and some hot chocolate.

Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen.

Here are some of my family's go-to, easy and fun outdoors activities:
  • Going to a playground - I try to take the kids to a local playground after school every day when the weather allows it. This gives them some time to connect with friends and wind down after being in the classroom all day, and they won't just plunk themselves down in front of the TV after school. On weekends, we often visit one of the really great playgrounds around Vancouver.
  • Beach-combing for shells and rocks - Just bring buckets! We do this both in summer and winter. There are many great beaches where we live, and we visit a lot of them on a regular basis.
  • Going for a hike in the woods or the park - There are a lot of places around Vancouver with easy, kid-friendly hikes. In downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park is a great destination with lots to see, and lots to do.
  • Bicycle riding - Both of my kids are now able to ride their bikes without training wheels (the 5 year old just came around to this in the last month). My husband often takes them to a local skateboard park to ride over bumps and have some fun.
  • Backyard play-date - This is the easiest way for us to have fun outside: just invite friends and family with kids to hang out in the backyard and play on the trampoline, go on the swings, and just enjoy some outside fun-time.
For more ideas, you can check out some Take It Outside Week Activity Ideas.

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