10 Ways to Get Outdoors With Your Kids

Create memories this summer with this list of ideas from Bright Horizons' early childhood experts

By Catherine Siroka, publisher of Macaroni Kid Greenwich to Westport, Conn. April 8, 2021

Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool educators know when it comes to family time, we don’t have to make elaborate plans or break the bank. Often, the simplest activities foster the strongest connection because children and parents focus on each other. This is especially true when you take family time outside. There are so many benefits to outdoor play — from that family time to reducing stress. 

To encourage families to get outdoors, early childhood experts at Bright Horizons put together this great list of 10 fun, low or no-cost outdoor activities you can do together as a family. Time to make that summer bucket list!

1. Walk or bike the neighborhood

Kids often observe things that we adults often miss. A simple walk or bike ride around the neighborhood with the family can open a whole world to them if we simply slow down. Try to find a special time daily to explore your neighborhood with your kids, such as after dinner. Keep in mind the journey, not the destination. Make it a treasure hunt in nature: How many plants and insects can you find? How many places can you find the color blue? 

2. Be a tree

Grab a towel or yoga mat and head out to your backyard or a local park or beach to do some yoga together! Practice different poses, like tree pose, downward dog, and butterfly. Pair up to do poses like sunrise/sunset. Not only is this a great way to get outside, but it’s also a great way to help everyone relax or unwind as a family.

3. Hang out at home

You don’t have to go far to take in all that the great outdoors offers. Have a picnic in your own backyard. Let babies crawl, walk, and explore a variety of textured surfaces like grass, sand, or dirt. See how many types of birds, squirrels, insects, and plants your preschooler or toddler can find. Bigger kids will enjoy a game of catch, or hide and go seek!

4. Plant a garden

Gardening for kids — along with other yard work — can be great exercise. Plus it encourages healthy eating, teaches responsibility, and helps kids understand why it's important to care for the Earth.

5. Make mud pies

It's okay to get dirty! Let those kids make mud pies and then, if it's a hot day, let them run through the sprinkler to clean off!

Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool offers early childhood education and preschool. They pride themselves on taking care of children... and families, offering an early education that’s so much more than daycare. The Bright Horizons curriculum has been designed with milestones in mind, with teachers who give your child the important skills they need in a convenient location that provides the schedule you need. Bright Horizons' educators support your whole family with learning, love, and inspiration, and how our individualized curriculum works for the most important child — yours. Learn more about Bright Horizons’ new center child care center, Bright Horizons at Greenwich, opening this summer!

6. Collect rocks

 Kids love to collect rocks. Any kind. Any shape. Any weight — as many of us can attest from hauling some home on occasion! But what can they do with those rocks once they get them home? Get creative! Try sculptures, create designs, or form letters. Explain that, like people, no two rocks are exactly alike. Create a science laboratory where you can weigh and measure rocks. Older children might research different types of rocks.

7. Be tourists in your own city

Have you ever wondered about the history and legends of your community? Do you know which Native American tribes first settled the area? Have you noticed the types of architecture? Do you know the history behind the statues in the local park? Make this the summer you find out more about where you live!

8. Get out after dark

At home? Catch lightning bugs or play flashlight tag. Live in an area with bright lights? Take the kids on a trip to a more rural area and find a spot to spread a blanket out to look at the stars.

9. Get wet!

Creeks, lakes, swimming pools, splash pads, backyard sprinklers... get the kids out in the water this summer! Try something new as a family, like canoeing or kayaking!

10. Explore new parks and playgrounds

You probably have your favorite local parks and playgrounds you visit to play or hike. Explore new ones this summer — you might find some new favorites!

Bright Horizons' early childhood experts know quality time as a family builds strong relationships and satisfying memories. When these activities are taken outside, you are increasing the overall benefits of family time by spending time in nature and by modeling healthy habits like getting exercise and fresh air. 

So, get out there. 

Turn over a rock. 

Feel the breeze on your face. 

Have fun as a family!