Nothing feels better then ending a beautiful summer day with the feeling of having spent quality time outdoors. There is something about engaging in play that brings us back to a time when the days stretched on and summers felt long. Play is defined as “engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.” In other words, choosing to engage in fun simply for the sake of having fun! As a Together Counts™ Ambassador, I’ve learned that a great way to squeeze in active time for kids is by making the most of their eagerness to play. With that simple definition in mind, here are five simple ways to play this summer with the little (and not-so-little) ones in your lives. 1. Go on Family Walks Finding a local place with pretty scenery, where you can take walks as a family can be the beginning of a meaningful tradition. It is an easy way to spend quality time together, which requires little to no preparation. Not only is it a great way to be active and spend time outside, but it also inspires great conversations and fun nature discoveries! You can find some great tips for hiking with young children, here. 2. Play Hopscotch I have fond memories of playing hopscotch with neighborhood friends for hours on end. Finding the perfect throwing stone and drawing the squares just right was a daily after school ritual. What I didn’t remember was how much coordination, strength, and stamina was needed to physically be able to complete a game. Playing hopscotch is great for developing large motor skills and hand-eye coordination. The best part is that it is just downright fun for both children and grown-ups alike. For detailed instructions on how to play hopscotch, click here. 3. Fly a Kite Even when there is little (to no) wind, flying a kite is a wonderful collaborative activity. Being outside, working together, and running as fast as you can to launch a kite into flight, is a wonderful way to spend a sunny summer afternoon. Want a little refresher on how to fly a kite? Click here. 4. Skip Rocks More than half of the excitement that comes from rock skipping, is slowing down to find the perfect rocks. For smaller children, it is a great accomplishment to simply create a splash. As children get older they can learn the techniques involved and work their way towards one skip. Witnessing the joy on your child’s face, the first time they skip a rock, is well worth the trip to a local beach, lake, or pond. For more rock-skipping tips, click here. 5. Play in the Sprinklers Backyard sprinklers and garden hoses can provide hours of fun. While all you really need to do is turn them on and invite your children to play, there are some fun games you can explore together. Visit the National Wildlife Federation for some great ideas for sprinkler time activities. When was the last time you ran through a sprinkler? Go ahead, give yourself permission to play, and have the best summer ever! Mariah Bruehl is a parent, educator, and author of the book Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. With over 15 years’ experience working in the field of education and a Master of Science degree in Education from Bank Street College, she brought her expertise online, creating the Parents’ Choice Gold Medal award-winning Web site Playful Learning. In 2011 she launched the Playful Learning Ecademy, which offers engaging online learning experiences for kids, parents, and teachers.
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