The kids are home for the summer, it’s only July and you’re running out of fun family activities to keep them, and you, occupied. A visit to the park is a great way to get outside, enjoy nature and it can be a blast for the whole family. Not only that, a new study by the University of British Columbia found that playing outside is essential for kids’ development saying, “Playgrounds that offer natural elements such as trees and plants, changes in height, and freedom for children to engage in activities of their own choosing, have positive impacts on health, behavior and social development.” You probably didn’t need an official study to figure that one out but it always helps to have some science to back up your maternal instincts.
Whether you go to a state park, a national park or just the local playground there’s plenty to discover. Here are 10 fun family activities for your next visit.
1. Nature Study
Bring along some binoculars and a magnifying glass so you can get a close-up view of the wildlife around you. Lift up rocks and look for insects, look for different birds in the trees and make a list of everything you find so you can learn more about it when you get home.
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2. Arts in the Park
There’s sure to be an Arts in the Park event showcasing local artists near you this summer, which is an excellent way to get your kids interested in exploring their own creativity. Even if there’s no official event, bring some portable painting or drawing supplies to the park and let nature be your inspiration.
3. Feed the Ducks
Feeding the ducks or geese is such a classic, old timey pastime. The kids will love being surrounded by quacking birds and there’s nothing more peaceful than staring out at the water.
4. Paddle Boating
Where there’s a duck pond, there are usually paddle boats — another rather old-timey activity that we should all do more often.
5. Become a Collector
Collecting things is not only one of the best family activities; it’s also a fantastic way for kids to learn about nature. You can collect flowers to press at home, look for four-leaf clovers, find interesting rocks. You name it!
6. Go Biking
Pack a picnic lunch and go on a family bike ride while enjoying gorgeous scenery. Get a little exercise, do a little exploring and have fun!
7. Take a Hike
Hiking is a terrific workout and you and the kids won’t even notice the exertion because you’ll be completely absorbed in the peaceful surroundings and fabulous views.
8. Risky Play
You may have heard about Europe’s risky play movement that’s been making news. They’re based on the belief that today’s kids are too protected and their creativity is being sacrificed for safety. Junk or adventure playgrounds have become popular in the U.K. They give kids the chance to take some risks and learn to be daring. If it doesn’t give you a heart attack first.
9. Outdoor Movies
Lots of local parks show outdoor movies just after dark so see if there’s one near you. Pack a few snacks and a blanket for a night of movies under the stars.
10. Free Play
Father of two, Dan Schriebman created Free Play, a set of abstract playground structures designed by architects to spark kids’ imagination. The forms are inspired by nature and can be set up in a variety of configurations. Right now you’ll have to visit the United Arab Emirates to play on one but they’re on their way to the U.S soon.