With the last of the leftover turkey finally polished off and the new school year just about to get underway, for many this will mean a welcome return to normality. However, others will have an array of resolutions for themselves and their family in 2018, be it eating more healthy or trying out a new sports class. One reoccurring resolution for plenty of families in 2018, will be to spend more time outside. Whilst the educational benefits of technology are plentiful, too much screen time can affect eyesight – particularly for younger sets of eyes – and the ever-decreasing social interaction required for video games is concerning.
That said, there are plenty of outdoor activities you can embark upon together as a family, come rain or shine! Here at St Peter’s Prep School, we like to encourage a versatile range of outdoor activities in lessons that encourage a fun, yet educational approach to learning. Below, we’ve produced a list of seven of our favourite recreational activities that are as fun as they are educational.
Encouraging your children to involve themselves in anything to do with the garden is a great way to help them understand more about the biology of plants and how they grow, as well as the eco-friendly benefits this can have for the planet. You can start small with just the one plant, before dedicating a small patch of the garden to them to look after, and grow plants and vegetables of their own. When it comes to eating the vegetables, you can even get them involved in the cooking process to demonstrate how simple it is to grow your own food and encourage healthy eating in the future.
A scavenger hunt will not take you as parents long to create but will keep children of all ages busy for the whole day. Children can team up or work individually depending on numbers, while they scour the garden, or any outside area of your choosing, for the items on the list. Provide them with a bag to put their findings in and ensure the list contains at least some that are difficult, if not, impossible to find – you don’t want the hunt to be over in minutes. Seeing how the children prioritise items will be interesting! If you’re looking for minimal preparation, opt for an alphabet scavenger hunt, whereby they have to find an item in nature for every letter of the alphabet.
Arts and Crafts Outside
When it comes to getting creative, you don’t need a plethora of specialist artist equipment or a dedicated room in order to do so. Nature provides the perfect environment for encouraging artistic flairs, and, when using responsible materials, you won’t have to worry about tidying up the mess! We’re lucky enough to be close to the coast, so make use of the beaches nearby and try out driftwood art, or head to the beach with some acrylic painter pens to decorate some pebbles for their very own pet rock. Alternatively, ask children to create a collage of what nature means to them, but remember to teach them about which items they can or can’t take for the collage.
There’s not much better than popping on a pair of comfortable shoes, appropriate weather gear and heading out on an adventure with the whole family to somewhere new. There are an array of coastal paths that include beach stop-offs. Alternatively, check out the National Trust for some fantastic routes and trails that vary in length, terrain and difficulty. Play games on the way around such as wildlife bingo, or other educational word games, or use the opportunity to catch up with your child about how they’re getting on.
British weather means that the likelihood of a rainy weekend is high. That doesn’t mean you should retreat to the living room for a day in front of the television straightaway. Put your wellies on, along with any waterproof coats and trousers, before hitting any nearby parks, roads or tracks to hunt for puddles! There is tremendous fun to be had once you decide to accept and embrace the weather.
Wash a Car
Teaching your children about the true value of responsibility and money is difficult, but one way parents choose to do so is by distributing household chores. Whether you choose to reward tasks with a little bit of extra pocket money or some other kind of treat is up to you, but giving children tasks like this is great for building character. Just because it’s a chore, doesn’t mean it has to be boring, and on warmer days a sibling car wash can quite easily turn into a full-scale water fight!
Family Bike Rides
It’s always a good idea to encourage a healthy and balanced lifestyle with lots of exercise, and a family bike ride is a perfect way to do this whilst also spending some quality time together. The amount of safe cycle tracks in the UK is ever-increasing, so explore a maze of bike routes near your home in 2018. Pack a lunch, snacks, and plenty of water before heading out on your adventure, and remember to talk to your children before you set off about any safety procedures, they may need to be aware of.
Finally, don’t delay in spending more time outside. Although the weather might be slightly colder at this time of year, there are also many benefits such as deserted beaches, quieter public paths and less traffic on the roads, so make the most of it!