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50 Fun Things to Do Outside With Kids as a Family

08/03/2020 12:00:00


50 Fun Things to Do Outside With Kids as a Family

By Amanda Rock 

Fact checked by Donna Murray, RN, BSN 

Updated on April 03, 2020


Playing outside with your children isn't just about encouraging more physical activity. A 2019 study found that kids who spent the least amount of time in green spaces were 55% more likely to develop psychiatric issues, such as anxiety and mood disorders, as adolescents or adults.1

And while wrangling kids of varying ages to participate in a single activity can seem difficult, we've rounded up 50 mostly free things to do outside as a family to help you find the perfect fit. Next time the weather looks inviting, try these creative ways to play outside:

  1. Go for a walk. Set a timer to see how far you can walk in five minutes, 10, 20, or 30. Note whether you're going to make a loop or take an out-and-back route so you can plan accordingly.
  2. Ride bikes.
  3. Fly kites.
  4. Blow bubbles using a DIY mix.
  5. Play classic outdoor games such as Red Rover, Red Light Green Light, or Steal the Bacon.
  6. Host a nature scavenger hunt. Look for pine cones, acorns, and other common outdoor items and tally who found the most pieces.
  7. Hula hoop.
  8. Roller skate.
  9. Play Follow the Leader through your yard or neighborhood.
  10. Draw a hopscotch board with chalk.
  11. Make homemade playdough and bring it outside. It's less messy than playing on the floor or carpet.
  12. Drive to a neighboring town and check out their playgrounds. Maybe you'll find a new favorite.
  13. Set up a canvas and let your little ones paint. Again, less mess to clean up.
  14. Find a shady tree and read.
  15. Have a picnic at a local park, beach, or your own backyard.
  16. Do things you'd normally do inside, like play board games or have a pillow fight.
  17. Make s'mores.
  18. Plant a small container garden.
  19. Film a home movie.
  20. Eat homemade popsicles.
  21. Have a water balloon fight.
  22. Wash the car.
  23. Go for a group jog.
  24. Play wiffleball or kickball.
  25. Take turns playing photographer with your phone or camera.
  26. Make mud pies. Who can make the fanciest creation?
  27. Sing as loud as you can.
  28. Is it getting dark outside? Play hide and seek with flashlights (and partners if you have little ones).
  29. Water the plants. Give your preschooler some basic experiments to consider: Does the hose make water come out faster than the watering can? Which is easier to control?
  30. Build paper airplanes. Who can make theirs fly the farthest?
  31. Search for bugs.
  32. Set up a lemonade stand.
  33. Run through the sprinkler.
  34. Make homemade bird feeders out of pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed.
  35. Drive to another neighborhood and go for a walk there. Pretend to be observational scientists: What's different? What is the same?
  36. Gather up a wagon, stuffed animals, and some pots and pans and have an instant parade.
  37. Look for things like pine cones, sticks, shells, and rocks to make a mobile.
  38. Play on the swing set in the dark.
  39. Pick flowers (from your own yard).
  40. Find shapes in the clouds.
  41. Take a nap in a hammock or just on a blanket you lay on the grass.
  42. Go "fishing." Set up a wading pool with objects and let your little one try to catch them.
  43. Color eggs outside with less mess.
  44. Pitch a tent.
  45. Paint rocks.
  46. Host a dance party.
  47. Have a water gun fight.
  48. Learn to do cartwheels.
  49. Build a fort using lawn furniture.
  50. Walk barefoot in the grass. Then try the cement (make sure it isn't too hot first). Ask your preschooler to compare what they feel like. What other surfaces can you make your feet touch?

100 Summer Activities for Kids and Parents

07/01/2020 12:00:00


HomeOur Work / For Families / Articles for Families on Literacy / Fall in Love with Reading: Ten Simple Things you Can Do at Home

There are many ways to enjoy reading with your child. Here are a few ways to make reading a fun part of your everyday life.

  1.  Develop family reading routines and rituals

Find a regular time of day when you can dedicate story time into your day. You can read in the morning, after school, or before bedtime! Making story time a cozy routine makes reading an essential and pleasant activity.

  1. Read what interests your child

The nutrition facts on the milk box, newspapers, recipes, maps, and game instructions all make great reading material if your child is interested.

  1. Try books that reflect your daily experiences

Making connections to topics you read about is a fun way to keep children engaged. For example, you can read You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum with your child before or after visiting an art museum. This opens up opportunities for conversations like discussing similarities and differences between the book and the museum visit.

Or read Dr. Seuss’s In a People House and then ask your child if they see any similar items, how they work, or even create a new book based on what’s inside your own home.

  1. Let your child select books

When you visit the library, let your child select books. Try both fiction and informational books, and ask the librarian for recommendations based on your child’s interests.

  1. Reread your child’s favorites

It’s common for young children to request the same book again and again. Re-reading familiar stories offers children a chance to absorb information over time and lets them master the whole story.

  1. Encourage storytelling

Encourage your child to tell you a story from time to time or to retell a story after you’ve read it several times. Don’t feel the need to correct how she’s telling the story. Let her enjoy the experience of storytelling.

  1. Have fun while reading

Try whatever style feels comfortable for you and your child. Some ways families have fun with stories include:

  • Acting out the story while reading by using facial expressions, gestures, body movements, and voices to make the story come to life.
  • Making the story relevant to your child’s life by adapting the story to include her name, a friend’s name, or your pet’s name. For example, surprise your child by saying “Olivia, Olivia, what do you see?” when you read Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  • Finding props to go along with favorite stories and offering them to your child to use in her play.
  1. Change your setting!

It can be fun to read books in different places in and around your home. Try reading Eric Carle’s The Very Lonely Firefly in a dark room with a flashlight. I’ve read The Lamb and the Butterfly (written by Arnold Sundgaard, illustrated by Eric Carle) to a group of four-year-olds on the grass, and when they saw a butterfly fly by, they associated it with the one in the story! You can even ask your child where she wants to read a particular story.

  1. Try one of these books that trigger children's interest in reading

Adam Lehrhaupt’s Warning: Do Not Open This Book! Is a great example of a book that draws children into the act of reading. Children wonder: “Why can’t I open this book?” and read on. Here are some others:

  • Don’t Push The Button by Bill Cotter
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • How To Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens I
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • Maisy’s Fairground by Lucy Cousins 
  • My Granny’s Purse And My Mummy’s Bag by P. H. Hanson
  • Press Here by Herve Tullet
  • Tap to Play by Salina Yoon
  • The Foggy Foggy forest by Nick Sharratt
  • Where’s Wally? by Martin Handford
  1. Get to know your child and your own reading style
  • Knowing your child and your own reading style is important for three main reasons:
  • It offers you an opportunity to observe what interests your child. Be it science, art, interactive books or wordless books, you will figure out her current interest and support her in appropriate ways.
  • You won’t impose your preferences on your child; instead, you will share what you like with each other and get a chance to explore those beyond your favorites.
  • It allows your child to understand and respect that every individual reads differently and it is okay.

There are lots of ways to encourage and enjoy reading. Try these ideas and do more of what your child enjoys.

Yi-Chin Lan received her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin. When she worked as a kindergarten teacher, she read her students at least three books a day. Her favorite picture books are Miss Rumphius, Guess how much I love you, and Not a box. She can be reached at

Audience: Family

Age: Early Primary, Infant/Toddler, Kindergarten, Preschool

Topics: Subject Areas, Literacy, Children's Books, Reading


13 Things a Baby Learns

06/01/2020 12:00:00


Our Work / For Families / Articles for Families on Literacy / 13 Things Babies Learn When We Read with Them

By Julia Luckenbill

We all know that it’s good to read to our babies.  But what exactly are they learning? Here are just some of the things your baby can learn as you read together.

  1. Books contain wonderful stories and songs that I can hear over and over again.
  2. Reading time is a time when I am held and loved.
  3. You tell me the names of my body parts, the sounds different animals make, and that animals go to sleep too.
  4. Some books are especially enjoyable and I can hear them again and again.
  5. Every time we read I hear how words are used, listen to rich language, and learn new words.
  6. The letters, words, and pictures you point to, all have meaning.
  7. I can explore how books are the same and how they are different by tasting and touching them.
  8. There is always something hiding behind the flap; my favorite pictures are always in the same place in a book.
  9. Listening is part of communication and language includes listening and understanding. 
  10. Things come in different colors, sizes, and shape.     
  11. It’s fun to play with language, and explore rhythm, rhyme and humor.
  12. When I do something, another thing happens; if I point at a picture, my mom or dad will tell me its name. If I drop the book, we might stop reading.    
  13. I love books and one day I will love to read on my own.  

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