Children need to move and be active every day. It is an important part of their development and helps maintain healthy habits later on. Moving is good for them and it's good for us, their parents, to follow along and play with them as much as we can.The outdoors provide lots of possibilities for active fun, specially in summer time. You can obviously do all sorts of sports, but It doesn't have to be all organized and prepared in advance. Summertime calls for slowing down a bit and be impulsive. Let the weather determine what to do - if it's really hot it's probably better to settle for a picnic in the shadow of a big tree than run a marathon!Here are five ideas for fun summer activities for kids that you can do at no cost:
A bike ride together on a bicycle path where there are no cars can be a really nice activity for the whole family and something most active preschoolers will love - specially if they can ride their own bikes. Take your time and stop once in a while to sit in the grass, pick some wild flowers, watch for bugs or collect beautiful leaves and stones etc.
If you live near a beach a walk in the sand or on the rocks is another great activity in all sorts of weather. Watch the tide and observe the sea with foam crests when it's windy and the quiet waters on a calm sunny day. Collecting beautiful shells and stones to bring home is a lot of fun and can turn into a little treasure hunt or game of who will first find a round stone, a blue shell, a white stone etc. Save the collected stones for a rainy day when it will be a fun indoor activity to paint the stones and make them into small art works.
When the weather is nice, a picnic is always great for children. Let everybody help preparing the food. Toddlers and preschoolers can make small easy sandwiches, put cherry tomatoes, pieces of cucumber and sweet peppers in containers etc. Bring berries, biscuits and small boxes of raisins for snack. Remember lots of refreshing water. Once lunch is over you can play hide and seek or tag, and when you're all tired of running just lay in the grass and watch the clouds in the sky - it's OK to do nothing when you have played actively.
A trip to the playground is always fun for a toddler or preschooler and it's specially fun to explore new play areas. This is another great destination for a bike ride, but if all the playgrounds are to far away, take the car and bring some sand toys and a ball with you.
A walk in the woods is great at all times and once you're there why not challenge the children to play I Spy. Give them a list of things to find that are: soft, rough, smooth, cold, hot, dry, wet, slimy, heavy, light etc. Let them find all at once or give them one challenge at a time and see who first finish the list or find an object with a specific characteristic - this can also be a fun activity on the beach where the challenge will be to find stones in different shapes, shells, seaweed etc.
It's a good idea to have a bag ready by the door with the essentials for a trip outside: napkins, sunblock, sunglasses, a towel, maybe some snack bars, dry raisins or small bags of biscuits, and of course bottles with water in the fridge ready to grab - then it's super easy to head outside whenever you feel like it.