Games for outside play
Do you remember playing catch in the garden, or drawing pictures on the pavement? When the days were long and carefree, and all that mattered was playing and having a good time? It’s clear that our best childhood memories were created outside. And that’s a good thing, because not only is fresh air healthy, playing outside opens up a multitude of possibilities for children.
No matter how old your child is, there’s nothing better than a day full of movement, play and fun out in the open! Games played outside usually follow simple rules and are child’s play to understand. And the best thing is that they get your child moving straight away, are free and allow a lot of room for creativity and a child’s own ideas for play – even in bad weather. Many of the games can also teach children something.
Read on to find out what’s involved in playing with your child outdoors – including suitable ideas for games for an unforgettable day in the fresh air.
Why is playing outdoors so good for a child?
Apart from the obvious reasons, such as the sun – a great vitamin D booster – and all that fresh air, playing outdoors offers one thing above all else: space. Outside, children can succumb to their natural desire to move, without having to worry about breaking anything.
Outside, small children in particular can experience and learn an awful lot, e.g. through games for small children or as explorers of their very own idea. But playing in the grass, observing bumble bees buzzing around flowers, or even playing in water, all open up entirely new worlds to small children. This bolsters their power of imagination and their creativity.
What are movement games?
Movement is very important for children. Small children in particular have to try their hand at things in order to develop their motor skills. This is why movement games are a great opportunity for children of any age to be active and train their sense of balance, motor skills and memory whilst having a lot of fun.
As their name suggests, movement games are characterised by having the aim of getting children moving. Such games often don’t require any props or materials. Many well-known children’s games, which you probably remember from your own childhood, are essentially movement games. For example, playing catch, “What time is it, Mr Wolf?”, or the classic hopscotch. Apart from a ball, a few fellow players and two healthy legs, nothing else is needed to play the games. And that’s what makes movement games so popular!
Which movement games are suitable for small children?
Children’s games must always be age appropriate. On the one hand, this is to protect children from potential injuries, and on the other, it is to prevent them from being over-stretched and becoming frustrated. A toddler has different motor skills to a pre-school child, and consequently enjoys doing different things.
Here are some of our favourite movement games for small children:
Girl or boy, young or old, alone or with others: a push-car race is a great game! It is fun at (almost) any age, and doesn’t need much preparation. However, with such a game, it is important that other players look out for the youngest ones. And the rules? You can shape the game as you want. Perhaps there doesn’t need to be any rules? It doesn’t matter whether there is a winner or a loser in the end, having fun is the main thing.
Tip: Push-car racing is the most fun on hard ground, as the little vehicles travel better. However, if you want to play it safe, arrange for the first race to take place on a green area. Grass cushions any potential crash better than a hardcore or gravel surface.
Ball games are a great idea! They boost the motor skills of your child and, depending on the child’s age and level of development, can be played in various different ways together with the whole family. Anyone can quickly come up with their own creative ideas for ball games. Many small children enjoy chasing after a ball, while other children like to try their hand at catching and throwing.
Tip: Ensure that an age-appropriate ball has been selected. For small children, it ought to be particularly light and soft, and sit well in their hands – with a good grip. This makes throwing and catching easier for them.
Is your toddler already good on their feet? Then an obstacle or assault course could be an exciting idea for a game to get them moving! Depending on your little one’s developmental level, you can construct various obstacles or include games like a puzzle. Such a course is ideal for adapting. And quick to construct as well.
For example, draw a route with chalk on the ground and incorporate various stations that involve an activity, such as jumping or turning around in a circle once. What about using flower pots as obstacles to run around? Or a bench for crawling under? Give your creative juices free rein! And if you don’t have the time or inclination to design your own course, you can also buy children’s obstacle courses in a toy shop.
Why is playing outside in all weathers a good idea?
“I’m not a wimp!” is probably something children would say in response to this. And they are right. Playing in the wind and the rain is harmless and can involve a lot of fun while strengthening a child’s bodily defences – as long as they are wearing the right clothing.
Treat your child to the joy of jumping from one puddle into the next. Don’t forget that they see the world though completely different eyes and may only now be discovering a fascination for water.
A raincoat and pair of Wellington boots should be enough for going out in the rain. Such clothing can cope with getting really dirty once in a while, but it should also provide sufficient protection against the wet and the cold.
Tip: After a walk in damp weather, the cold, or gusty winds it is important for your child to be able to warm up properly. Some soup or a hot drink can work wonders! If their clothing has become wet, it is important to change it as quickly as possible, and preferably let them enjoy a warm bath. Otherwise, the combination of a cold wind and jumping in puddles can lead to a heavy cold.
In conclusion: head outside!
Not only is playing outdoors fun for children, it’s also good for their development. For example, a simple game of catch-me-if-you-can teaches important motor skills and a sense of balance. Bad weather shouldn’t be a reason to stay indoors. Quite the opposite in fact. Playing in the rain not only boosts a child’s bodily defences, it also enables completely new outdoor activities that are particularly interesting for small children and can bring a little bit of change to their daily routine.
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