Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fun in the Sun: Outdoor Activities for your Kids this Spring (Summer)

Since I have been super busy cleaning horse poop, planting my own garden, repeating myself, mowing the yard, pulling a filthy amount of weeds from my flower beds and experiencing debilitating insomnia, I am offering up this lovely post full of wonderful ideas to get you started on the magical journey of summer vacation. It is written by ghost writer, Emma Crosby. Enjoy!

Fun in the Sun: Outdoor Activities for your Kids this Spring

So Spring has finally sprung! The days are getting longer, the temperatures are creeping up, flowers are blooming, birds are singing and air is filled with the sweet sounds of 'Mommmmm I'm bored!' After a long winter of being cooped up indoors you can hardly blame our kids for wanting to run free in the great outdoors but lots of enticing activities for the warmer weather such as zoos and theme parks come with a far-from-sunny price tag. There are lots of weird and wonderful ways to occupy the kids in your own garden this Spring that are fun, educational and cheap too. Here are just a few to inspire your family.

Plant a vegetable patch
Spring is a fruitful time of year so make the most of it with your green fingered little ones and encourage them to grow their own crops. Studies show that kids who are involved in the growing process of produce are generally more likely to have an interest in healthy eating and consequently have better diets and general health. Giving them the responsibility of planning, digging and maintaining their own vegetable patch will make their sense of accomplishment even bigger when they finally see the fruits of their labor and present you with their harvest. Herbs, salads and root vegetables such as carrots and onions are all great starter plants but it may also be worth including a few 'fast flowering' crops such as tomatoes so that they see results quickly before losing interest in their project. Fun and educational, this is a popular Spring past time that will save you money and provide the entire family with fresh, organic food.

Bird watching
Here in Colorado we are blessed to have a number of migrating birds in our skies during Spring. Hawks, warblers, hummingbirds and buntings are just a few of the birds that you might be able to spy from your garden so invest in a pair of binoculars and get the kids interested in bird watching. If you want to make this a really educational activity then have them read up on said birds beforehand so that they can try and identify anything that they see and add a little healthy competition by allocating points for the child who can correctly spot and identify the most birds. For rainy days you could also help them to create their own bird feeders using everything from hollowed out fruits and pine cones to plastic bottles.

Camping out
While you may view camping out in your back yard as a cold, uncomfortable and unnecessary way to spend an evening, the kids will see it as an exciting adventure. It really is crazy just how much fun sleeping 50 yards away from your own house is to them so now the temperatures are creeping up indulge them and try and get into the camping spirit. Songs before bedtime, dinner cooked over a camp fire and the threat of 'going indoors' to quell any bad behavior will ensure that everyone has a great night. And if the heavens open you are only a few steps away from your cozy beds.'

Getting crafty in the garden
Nature is beautiful and so the garden is a wonderful place for your little ones to get creative and bring the outdoors indoors with their own works of art. From sketching garden critters to creating collages from leaves and grass, the possibilities are endless. One of my kids favorite crafts is flower coloring. This involves picking flowers in the garden (pale or white flowers such as daisies work best) and adding them to jars or vases that have a small amount of food coloring in, ensuring that the stems are cut at the bottom. As the flowers drink up the water their white petals will take on the color of the dye and become flecked with bright colors. Not only will this amaze the kids but it teaches them about plants and brightens up the house too.

Build mud pies
Some things never get old and making mud pies in the garden is certainly on that list. However old your child is you can bet that they'll love digging, mushing, sploshing, spooning and stirring their mud pies. A designated area of dirt, a wooden spoon and a few pots and pans is all they'll need for hours of fun. And far from being a pointless and filthy activity, handling mud and water encourages sensory development and encourages your kids to use their imagination. With leaves and twigs as entrees, you can even let them bring their favorite toys into the garden for dinner.   
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