Posts Tagged ‘outdoor activities with kids’

Those hot, muggy summer days are here again – especially here in New York. What to do with the kids? Here are some fun, simple activities to keep the kids happy and the TV off while staying cool this summer!

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My nieces love going into Central Park in New York City or out in the yard in the Hamptons and digging for worms. Not exactly my cup ‘o tea digging for worms, BUT its very entertaining for the kids and can be educational too! With summer here and in need of afternoon activities, why not dig for worms with your kids? Here are some fun facts: 

  • A worm has no eyes, legs or arms.
  • There are 2700 different types of earthworms in the world.
  • There can be up to 1 MILLION earthworms in just 1 acre of land.
  • 22 foot long earthworm was found in South Africa.
  • Worms help plants by mixing the soil. So gardeners love them because they are ‘free’ help!
  • Even without eyes, a worm can still sense light and will move away from it.
  • Earthworms come to the surface when it rains because they need oxygen to breathe, and they would drown if they stayed in the soil.
  • Regular earthworms can live 15 years.
  • Although native to Europe, earthworms are found throughout North America and western Asia. They do not live in deserts or regions where there is permafrost or permanent snow and ice.
  • They are often called night crawlers because they are often seen feeding above ground at night. Said to be shy of the light, they burrow during the day and stay close to the surface, but they can dig down in the soil as deep as 6.5 feet (2 meters).
  • The worm’s first segment contains its mouth. As they burrow, they consume soil, extracting nutrients from decomposing organic matter like leaves and roots. Earthworms are vital to soil health and to plants growing in it because they transport nutrients and minerals from below to the surface via their waste.
  • As they move through the soil, their tunnels aerate the ground. An earthworm can eat up to one third its body weight in a day. That would be equal to a 75-pound (34.1-kilogram) youngster eating 25 pounds (11.4 kilograms) of food in one day!
  • Earthworms are a source of food for numerous animals, like birds, rats, and toads, and are frequently used in composting and as bait in commercial and recreational fishing. Their numbers are strong throughout their range—they’re even considered agricultural pests in some areas—and they have no special status.
  • Earthworms are invertebrates—they don’t have an internal skeleton made of bone.
  • There isn’t a fossil record of earthworms because they are soft-bodied invertebrates.
  • Most earthworms will live for about six years in the wild.
  • Many people believe that if a worm is cut in half, the two pieces will grow into full-size worms. This is not true.


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We put our heads together and wanted to give our two thumbs up to the two games of the day!  Whether you are in a city park, local playground or backyard – these outdoor games are sure to be fun, active and will have your little ones singing (and learning) primary colors, especially RED!

Red Light, Green Light
# of Kiddies: Appropriate for all ages
Ages: 2+

Why?: Red Light, Green Light is a game children of different ages can play.  It is also one of those traditional games any adult will remember playing as child and will want to play too!  The stop and go nature of this game is good for cardio and will increase your child’s awareness of body movement and listening skills.

What to Bring: nada!

How to Play:  One person is designated as “it” and plays the part of the stop light – if you only have 1 or 2 kids with you, it might be best if you (the parent/adult) play the role of “it”.  Have the kids line up about 20 feet away on the grass from the “it” person. “It” turns his/her back to the kids and calls out “Green light!” The players then run as fast as they can towards “it”. At any time, “it” can face the players and call out “Red light”, and the others must freeze in place like a statue. If the kids are caught moving, they should go back to the start line.  The game continues until someone reaches and tags the “it” person, and the new person becomes “it.”  The sure trick to winning this game is to move smoothly so that you can freeze instantly until you are within reach of “it.”

Play Ballllll!!!!
# of Kiddies: 1+
Ages: Appropriate for all ages

Why?:  Playing with any ball is good hand-eye coordination, and can be a fun way to incorporate cardio into your child’s day of play.

What to Bring: A ball (a kickball or medium sized inflated ball)

How to Play #1 (for 1): Kick the ball around in the grass or see how high you can throw the ball in the air and catch it.

How to Play #2 (for 2): Play a simple game of throw and catch or for you city kids – bounce the ball against a cement wall and see who throw the ball as many times as they can against the wall without missing. If you want to bring a hula-hoop to the park, you can throw balls through the hula-hoop (pretend it is a circus!).  Lastly, you can play a game of just kicking the ball back and forth, and whoever ‘misses’ the ball “scores” a goal.

How to Play #3 (for 3): Play ‘Monkey in the Middle” where 3 people stand in a line and the two people on each end of the line throw the ball between the middle person who is trying to sneak/catch the ball away!

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Wii Fit is great, but the summer months are approaching and it is time to rediscover your nearest park for a little fresh air and old fashioned games.  Playing outdoors is more important than ever to incorporate into your kids’ weekly activities – it is fun and beneficial to your child’s health, as well as lays a foundation for your child to value a more active adulthood.

Below is a fun game I rediscovered over the weekend with my nieces – not only were they smiling with joy, but I was panting and out of breath chasing them, making me realize that I needed a little outdoor activity TLC.

Where Art Thou? (aka Scavenger Hunt)
# of Kiddies: 1+
Ages: 3+

Why?: Get back to mother nature and teach kids colors and a little about the environment.

What to Bring: A list of nature items. For younger children, use art or drawings to create the list.

Here is a short list to get you started:

  1. A worm
    Fun fact: There are about 2 700 species (different kinds) of earthworms around the world. They are invertebrates, which means they don’t have backbones. Earthworms dig large burrows, which let water and air into the soil.  As they burrow, the worms swallow soil and eat the plant matter that is in it. The soil they swallow passes though the worm’s body and is left in little piles on top of the ground. This is called castings and is excellent fertilizer (food for plants).
  2. A penny
    Fun fact: The average penny lasts 25 years. It is made of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.
  3. 2 different types of grass
    Fun Fact:  Bamboo is actually a grass!  Most animals cannot digest (cannot eat) grass. Animals that can eat grass are: pandas, cows, goats, sheep, camels, llamas, giraffes, buffalo, deer, wildebeest and antelope to name a few.
  4. Leaves from 3 different trees
    Fun Fact: Like us humans, trees and plants needs to eat and grow.  In fact, they like to eat sugar!  A tree’s sugar is made with the help of the sun and a green chemical called chlorophyll. If the tree is eating, the leaves will be green. Spring and summer are when trees eat and grow the most because there is the most sun. In autumn, trees like to rest and have stored enough food away for the fall to stop growing.  Since the tree is not eating and only sleeping in the fall, the green goes away, and the leaves turn red and purple, orange; yellow, and brown.
  5. Large rock
  6. Moss
    Fun Fact: Moss cannot have flowers
  7. Berry (Warn your children to not eat the berries, but rather inspect its color and texture, i.e. is it hard, soft?).
    Fun Fact: The Native Americans were the first to introduce berries to their diets.
  8. Pinecone
    Fun Fact: a pinecone can weigh up to 10 pounds!
  9. Something plastic (Explain how it doesn’t belong in nature)
  10. Animal tracks (Draw them on paper after you find them)
  11. Nut or acorn
    Fun Fact: Acorns come from Oak trees.
  12. Flower
  13. Something red
  14. Feather (Have your children guess what type of bird the feather came from? Blue Bird, Seagull, Pigeon and more!)
  15.  Seeds
  16.  A gum wrapper
  17. Something that makes noise
  18. Something that fell out of a tree
  19. Something that begins with the first letter of your child’s name

Note: Can’t make it to the park?  Here is a list of items you can find in your backyard:

  1. A garden tool
  2. A yellow flower or Dandelion
  3. A ball
  4. A white object
  5. A two pronged twig
  6. A snail
  7. A leaf with 3 tips

How to Play: Give the kids a printed list of nature items to find.  The first player or team to report back with all of their items wins the prize (could be a healthy snack such as your child’s favorite fruit or even allowing the winner to pick the next game!).  If your kid is lucky, mommy and daddy could even let the child pick:

a)      Where he/she would like to eat that night for dinner
b)      An educational program on the computer to play with for 20 minutes
c)      A family board game to play at home that night

Note to Self: Since this game is obviously held outdoors, be sure to make a set of rules and guidelines for your kids. If you have more than 4 kids, set them up into teams, set a reasonable time limit and make sure to tell them to stay within the boundaries of the park where you can still see them as a chaperone.  It’s always a good idea to pair up your kids and make a buddy system; young children can carry a cell phone with them. Everyone can be safe, learning and having fun!

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Last Saturday, our day for chores, grocery shopping, gardening and the like, was pleasantly interrupted by a call from a close family friend. His family member was moving to Washington and had a playhouse her kids had outgrown; could we use it?  Our response: “Love to!”  The next thought: “Where will we put it?” Our smallish yard is pretty full with our large edible garden, flowers, patio furniture, lots of gardening equipment, a grill, and lumber for an upcoming fencing project!

PlayhouseI tend to live by Tim Gunn’s motto of “Make it Work.”  A few hours and an aching back later everything was in its new organized place and our yard actually looked bigger! Our friend showed up with the pieces of the house and by the time Lilah woke up from a much needed nap she had a new playhouse. She was so excited to have a ‘new home!’  We put potted roses outside the kitchen window to give it a homey feel – it’s perfect!!! Lilah loved it so much that, even though the fog had rolled in and a cold wind blew through our yard, she insisted we have a tea party. Luckily one of the walls pulls back to make it an indoor/outdoor dining table so I could be in the house without actually being “in” the house. I know she will get years of enjoyment out of this little abode. I am grateful we can enjoy the playhouse, rather than adding to the landfill!  Tea Anyone?

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Happy cyclist!

Happy cyclist!

We live in an area that has four distinct seasons. This lets us explore different outdoor activities. The summer season always makes me excited for bicycling. You get to see your neighborhood at a different pace when bicycling as opposed to driving your car. We began sharing our love of bicycling with our daughter at a young age. She first experienced bicycling as a bike trailer rider. We tried pulling the trailer on dirt roads near our house and quickly realized her little 10-month old head was bobbing up and down quite a bit! Maybe that type of road might not be the best for her age (as a licensed massage therapist by profession, I tend to be a bit protective of that central organ, the brain!). All was good as we biked the paved roads. She enjoyed being a passenger and sometimes would bring along stuffed animals and dolls to ride with her.

On her own energy she began to pedal a tricycle, then got the hang of a two wheeled bike with training wheels by the time she was two or three. When she was about three or four, we got a tag-along (trail-a-bike, third wheel – they have numerous names depending on the brands) attached to our adult bike, and she rode behind either my husband or myself. This bike attachment was pretty safe yet made the adult feel like they were riding with a drunk…as our daughter loved to lean from side to side as she pedaled! 😉 Most of the time we made it safely through our town doing errands or riding just for fun.

Dad and daughter bikers pulling into the driveway after a fun ride...

Dad and daughter bikers pulling into the driveway after a fun ride...

Sometimes my husband would create what he and my daughter called “the triple rig”: she would ride along on the tag-along which was attached to his bike, and the bike trailer would be attached to her bike. This way they could pedal to our local gardeners’ farmers’ market and bring home lots of veggies, fruit and other treats! We were amazed that the years passed so quickly and before long, she was pedaling her own two-wheeled bicycle along with us. It’s been a fun process that we hope becomes a life-long pattern of exercise and enjoyment for all of  us!

Where are you in the stages of bicycling with your kids – trailer, tag-along, tricycle, or 2-wheeled bike?

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On Monday, I talked about some of the fun and discounted family specials the Seattle Mariners are offering this summer. You can read about it here. Today, the team up is my FAVORITE team, the Oakland A’s:

Oakland_AthleticsOakland Athletics (did I mention they are my favorite team!?!)
The Coliseum
7000 Coliseum Way
Oakland, California 94621

Price Range: $9.00 – $48.00

$2.00 Tickets, $1.00 Hot Dogs presented by BART: At every Wednesday home game you can purchase Plaza Level, Plaza Outfield and Plaza Reserved tickets for only $2.00 and hot dogs throughout the park are only $1.00.

Fireworks night: Fireworks night at The Coliseum is so much fun especially on summer nights. After the game is over (and hopefully with an A’s win!) fans are allowed on the outfield grass to watch the show. So, bring a blanket and relax and enjoy the lights with the family. Next fireworks night is Friday, June 26th. Game time @ 7:05 p.m.

Root Beer Float Day presented by Pepsi: Not only will you get a refreshing treat to enjoy during the game, but you and the kids will get to meet some of the players! (Yum! Oh. Wait…”yum” to the root beer float, not the players!)  Thursday, August 6th at @ 10:35 a.m.

Giveaway Days:
Backpack day – Sunday, August 23rd @ 1:05 p.m. (First 7,500 kids, 14 & under)

So we’re almost done with the West Coast teams on my list…can you guess which Major League team I’ll be talking about on Friday??

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Each May, it’s common for those school field trips to come. I recently helped explore the watersheds near our local mountain stream with my daughter’s third-grade class. The teacher, her aide, four other parent volunteers and I split up the class of 26 to drive them up the canyon. Upon arriving in the forest stream area each small group was given things to explore and find out about the environment. Highlights were usually things the third graders found themselves like a dead, half-rotten vole (mouse) on the side of the trail, a garter snake, and deer scat (poop).

Crimson Trail Slope (Utah)

Crimson Trail Slope (Utah)

All was going well as we climbed up along a rocky slope trail to sit and look for fossils. Not too long passed and a student cried out. The boy had lost his footing and slid down the rocky slope stopping only when he got tangled up with a juniper tree branch. He called out and a nearby classmate screamed, “He’s bleeding!” The teacher and one of the parent chaperones (who also happened to be a nurse) made their way to the boy while the rest of us calmed the class and kept them from gathering around the injured boy. We could see that he had a scrape on his nose, a cut on his head and was protecting the wrist he fell on. The adults doctored him up then began walking him out to the car where the chaperone would take him back to school to meet the boy’s mother for a doctor’s clinic visit.

The class did fine remaining on their fossil hunt, finishing up only when the chaperones said it was time to go. The class enjoyed their adventures and several students drew get well cards for their classmate as soon as they returned to the classroom. The student did return to school the next day with sparkling eyes and a grin, but he was also sporting four stitches on his head and a cast on his wrist! The teacher of 30 years was commenting it was her first serious student injury on a field trip.

You just never know what will happen next!

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