Outdoor Play Ideas for the Summer

The first week of vacation flew by in our house! If your family is anything like ours, it often seems like summer arrives and is gone in an instant. In an effort to spend lots of time outdoors and enjoy the summer while it's here, we are trying to choose one special outdoor activity each week that may require planning (like a conservation area, or park land away from home) plus little simple activities for all the other days that can be done just around our home and neighbourhood. The goal, of course, is to keep all the activities low to no- cost. Here are some activities that we have had fun doing in the past: 

  • Fill empty containers/buckets with water, put them outside, leave some towels at the door for easy clean up and see what happens. (Most surprising was the request to use the water to water some of the flowers after splashing and soaking themselves)

  • Go for a walk around the neighborhood first thing Saturday morning when everyone is out with garage sales. It's a great way to meet people in your community.

  • Take a bike ride through a green space nearby. While Springbank Park might spring to mind first, most communities have shorter trails that lead through soccer fields and past parks. Bring a water bottle, and make sure to stop and try out the swings or slides or watch one of the soccer or baseball games in the evenings.

  • Play “grounders” at the local playground WITH your kids. The rules are simple, it’s tag with one person trying to catch the others except the tagger’s eyes are closed and if the tagger shouts   “grounders” and anyone is touching the ground, that person is “it”. We modify the rules so that younger players can keep their eyes open.

  • Watch the fireflies at dusk. They will only be out for the first few weeks of summer, don't miss them.

  • Find your closest park land area.

  • Explore your closest pocket forest (those tiny patches of forest hiding in neighbourhoods, just look for green patches on the area of the treemap near your home)

  • Pick a favorite tree, and see who can spot it the most on a quick walk. Some trees that are easier ones to spot are maples, oaks, and locus trees for beginners because the leaves are so distinctive, but maybe you'd like a challenge and will search for the tulip free with its leaves shaped like a cat’s face or ginkgo trees with their fan-shaped leaves.

  • Look for one new plant, animal, or bird you don't know on a family walk. Observe as much as you can: colour, shape, size, etc. Then see if you can figure out what it was when you get home using the internet, library, or friends. 

  • Take a listening walk. Tthe rules are simple - find a natural space and walk for a designated amount of time without talking. Just listen.

  • Play “I Hear, I See” - pick a natural space with birds, close your eyes and listen. Then try to spot the bird you heard. Once you find the bird, see if you can hear other birds of the same species singing back. 

Written by Tandy Morton, WILD CHILD Playgroup Facilitator