Best Outdoor Games for Kids

Kids playing outside
Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

For the most part, children love the outdoors; which, is a wonderful thing, because the outdoors helps in the development of children. Being outside not only helps children develop their physical abilities and health, but it also helps them develop their cognitive skills. Children are able to develop their physical abilities because they have a lot more space to be active and strengthen their muscles, motor skills, and coordination. Playing outside have health benefits for children. Since children have more room to run and play, they are able to burn excess calories. When children burn more calories, it helps in reducing childhood obesity and heart disease. When burning off the excess calories, children are also burning off excess energy. Burning off the excess energy allows children to reduce them being fidgety. This allows children to have more concentration, which helps them to increase their academic performance. Therefore, many parents try to know what are some of the best outdoor games for kids that help them develop harmoniously.

The excess energy that is burned off also helps children to relax, fall asleep and stay asleep. Sunlight also helps children’s health. Sunlight provides natural vitamin D, which helps reduce the chance of rickets and helps to build strong bones. The sunlight also helps to manage a child’s sleep pattern. Outside play also benefits children’s cognitive abilities. Children are able to restore and regenerate their brains. Being outside allows for children to learn through their senses, find self-confidence and to learn how to be independent.

Cognitive Play

Child Playing at the Sandbox
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Our mental skills or cognitive skills are very important for our development and playing outside allows children to develop them. As previously stated being outside allows children to learn through their senses. They can use their sense of sight to see different things, from animals to plants and everything in-between.

Children can use their sense of sound to hear animal sounds, the wind blowing, cars honking, etc. Using the sense of smell, allows children to smell a flower, the ground after a rainstorm, the air when a storm is brewing, etc.

Children can use their sense of touch to feel animals, flowers, trees, etc. They can also use their sense of taste, to taste raindrops, snowflakes, certain flowers/fruits, etc. When children are playing outside and have minimal adult supervision, they are able to explore on their own. When they do this, children are able to push the boundaries of their comfortability and are able to estimate the risks that are associated with the unfamiliar.

Playing outside also allows children to become self-confident because children are able to learn new skills. Also, games that children play that help them physically develop themselves, can help children to develop their cognitive abilities. Some of the best outdoor games for kids to help develop their cognitive abilities are: counting games (like how many leafs there are, how many rocks can you gather, etc.), identifying animal noise/bird sounds, identifying shapes in nature, sorting/classifying games, construction games, playing explorer, etc.

Motor Skills

Children Backyard Swimming
Photo by Brandon Morgan on Unsplash

Our motor skills, (which are broken up into two categories: fine motor skills and gross motor skills), are the movements of our muscles and bones. Our motor skills allow us to move around and to shape the environment around us. Our fine motor skills (dexterity) are the ability to move our smaller muscles/bones; while our gross motor skills consist in the ability to move our larger muscles/bones.

Children who engage in outdoor play are able to build their motor skills. They are able to use their motor and manipulative skills when they are playing outside. When children play outside, they absorb vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is important for children because it helps develop strong bones. It also helps regulate the immune system, as well. Recent studies highlight the fact that vitamin D helps reduce the risk of developing the flu, depression and certain diseases. Some of the outdoor games that help with the development of motor skills are: racing games, obstacle course games, walking on outdoor trails, tag, sandbox games, jumping rope, stop/go games, balance beams, stilts, riding toys (bikes, scooters, tricycles), etc.

Pretend Play (Creativity)

Pretend play (or creativity) is an important part of a child’s development. Pretend play allows children to use their imagination to learn about themselves and the world around them. Their imaginations are stimulated by the environment surrounding them. Children learn different things, while they are using pretend play, but don’t realize they are learning. They learn to understand others’ feelings, how to transfer the knowledge they learn in one situation to another, how to create a plan and follow through, the importance of rules, etc.

Children can learn communication skills, thinking skills and social cues. Children are also able to prepare themselves for future life experiences. Some of the games that help with pretend play are: playground equipment, balance beams (pretending they are planks-like pirates), building and construction equipment, motorize toys (if they have cars, they can pretend to be race car drivers or mechanics), etc. Actually, when it comes to pretend play and the outdoors, anything can be used; there is no limit on what you can do because it is your imagination that is fueling you.

A Website for Children

A great website for outdoor games is MindWare was founded in 1990 as a retail store, then eventually they had a consumer catalog and website to sell their products. In 2013, Oriental Trading Company bought them and they became a Berkshire Hathaway Company. MindWare products have won many awards, including Academics’ Choice Award, Creative Child Award, National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, PAL Award and Tillwig Toy and Media Award.

MindWare’s vision is ‘to make the world smarter through playful learning’ and they do this through their various products. MindWare sells high-quality products that everyone can enjoy, from children to adults. They have a wide variety of products, ranging from creative and active play activities, building sets, brain games and puzzles, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related games. Some of the activities and games they offer, also double as classroom resource projects. MindWare also has games and activities that are specially geared toward children with special needs.

Being outside and using MindWare’s activities allow for children to express themselves. Children are also able to develop cognitive abilities, along with their motor skills and improve upon their health. Children are able to develop their cognitive abilities in multiple ways outside from counting and sorting to learning about science and the environment, while playing.

Motor skills are developed by children when they play different games outside; these games include obstacle courses, balance beams, and riding toys. Just being outside and having nature give children ideas, allow their pretend play and creativity to foster. Using some of the products from MindWare, which are high-quality products, can help children to foster their developmental skills.

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