Readers — As a week of no school looms, here are some ideas for outdoor fun from Heidi Ahrens, a Colorado mom of two very active Free-Range girls. Heidi runs the website and social network community OutdoorBabyNetwork. You may also find traces of Heidi on NYC streets where she once played.
Me? I love Idea #4: How fun would it be to give out hot cider on a cold day? Fun! — L
Top Six Holiday fun Outdoor Activities by Heidi Ahrens
Don’t stay cooped up inside during the holiday season. Get some fresh air, play with the kids and introduce them to a new way of exploring their world:
1. Long Route: Go outside and walk to a local park or coffee shop but travel a different route then you are used to.
2. Do a transportation puzzle: This is an activity that families can do together to compare distances between two points. Your child selects a destination that she will go to using two different modes of transportation. Then she compares the two.
3. Giving and Collecting: Talk to your child about helping out and being generous. Go for a walk and have your child collect leaves, pebbles or recyclables. Go back home and have your child decorate these findings by, say, painting on the stones. Then have your child return these items in special spots outdoors for other children to find. [Sez Lenore: I love the idea of other kids finding hand-painted stones!]
4. Hot apple cider stand: This can be set up outside your house one day over the holidays to warm people up. No need to charge any money. The cider can stay warm in an insulated cooler or coffee urn.
5. Giving Tree: Have your child create little gifts to hang from a tree near your house. Then visit the tree every day to see what items were taken, or to observe people while they inspect the tree.
6. Races: The weather has been strange all around the country. Take inspiration from a blog post on OutdoorBabyNetwork and let your children go outside and explore even if the weather if frightful. If they need encouragement to stay engaged, have them try out funny contests, like who can bounce a ball in the rain the longest, or float the most cork boats in a puddle, or make the most snow angels.
Offering time in a natural setting where your child can have time to be free will make your holiday so much more enjoyable and meaningful. Head out in a park, a forest, a bike trail, a backyard or even a city street. — Heidi