Spring is finally in the air after what has seemed like an interminable winter for much of the U.S. If your kiddos have more than a touch of cabin fever, that’s completely natural! After all, who really enjoys getting bundled up like Ralphie’s kid brother, Randy, in “A Christmas Story?”
Anyone, young or old, who’s been cooped up inside relishes the chance to don no more than a light jacket and head outdoors. Take inspiration from these ideas to get your children out and moving in nature. And because April showers still need to bring May flowers, check out the suggestions for indoor activities, too.
Outdoor Activities for Kids
- Picnic in the park. Is the entire family dying to get out and enjoy the first warm days of spring? Why not make like Yogi bear and grab a pick-a-nick basket? Having a picnic in the park brings smiles to the faces of everyone, and the fresh air and opportunity for play will whet even picky kids’ appetites.
- Twist and shout. Take the well-known game of Twister outside by painting a giant Twister board with spray paint on a cut-out circular guide. Once the paint dries, get the entire family involved in playing. You and the littles will stretch your muscles while having fun.
- Obstacle course. Use your backyard, or head to the nearest playground if you dwell in an apartment, to make a challenging outdoor obstacle course for the kiddos. If going to the park, keep in mind that 40 percent of injuries at the playground happen because of inadequate supervision, so keep an eye on the young ‘uns.
- Chinese jump rope. Challenge you and your children’s coordination with this fun and different take on jump rope. Start out easy, and then build up to more creative jumping patterns. Who said getting kiddie cardio meant making them run laps?
- Freeze dance. Bust out the portable speakers and head outside for this crazy and silly game. Similar to freeze tag, the game requires kids to dance in the craziest way they can imagine — and when the whistle blows, they must instantly go perfectly still. You’ll work out little muscles while letting your children to exercise their creativity, too.
Outdoor Learning Activities
- Sowing seeds. If you have a garden patch, divide it up between family members and let the kids select which plants to grow in their spot. Those in cooler climates can start their gardens indoors in pots, then transplant them when warmer days arrive. Teach kids how to prep the soil, how to mulch, and how often to water their plants to keep them growing strong.
- Color match. This game works great for toddlers just learning their colors. Use sidewalk chalk to draw squares of different hues on a hard surface. Then, have children search the yard or the park for leaves and flowers that match the colors. Have two or more tots or taking junior on a play date? Make a mini-contest to see who can find the most objects that match each color.
- Bounce a word. Young basketball enthusiasts will go nuts for this game, and they won’t even know you’re teaching them to read. Write age-appropriate words in sidewalk chalk and draw a box around each word. Speak the word out loud, and have your child bounce the basketball to the correct matching words.
- Pond critters. If you live near a pond, let the little ones take old glass jars and scoop it full of water. Then, examine the glass to see how many organisms you can see inside to teach them about aquatic life. Maybe you’ll get lucky and catch a tadpole to observe before setting him free!
- Build a birdhouse. It’s easy to make a birdhouse out of various materials. Help your children create a simple birdhouse they can hang outdoors. Once birds make the house their home, you can observe their behavior with the kiddos.
Indoor Spring Fun
- TP roll frogs. This cute craft uses old toilet paper rolls that will make your child hop with joy! Help kids craft their own springtime froggies they can play with.
- Over the rainbow. Help young children make a colorful rainbow with bits of tissue paper, cotton balls and glue. The finished creations bring a splash of colorful joy to rainy days when it’s too damp or cold to head outside.
- Cork-stamp flowers. If you have some old corks you’re waiting to recycle from your occasional mom-juice indulgence, repurpose them to make these crafty flowers. Plant them in pots when finished, and let the littles line a windowsill with May flowers before the real ones appear.
- Easter egg rocks. Gather up some oval-shaped stones on your next playground visit, and when a rainy day strikes, have kids paint them into colorful Easter eggs. If your community participates in the painted rock game, save them for a sunny day and help your children hide them to give random strangers a smile.
- A buzzing pencil. Teach kids about all the wonderful things bees do while helping them transform their pencils into a bug on a stick. The craft keeps whines of “I’m bored” down while creating a teachable moment for sharing the importance of bee conservation.
The only thing better than seeing the first robin is making kids happy with creative spring crafts, games and activities. Teach your children new things in a fun way or just get the family out and moving in the fresh air. Celebrate the return of warm days while spending quality time with your beloved little ones.