There’s no doubt about it, kids love being outdoors. From climbing trees, to stomping in muddy puddles, to spotting signs of changing seasons, there’s loads of fun to be had and a wealth of interesting things to discover outside. Outdoor play isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ though - it’s essential to children’s health and wellbeing.
Playing outside allows children to exercise, socialise, get rid of pent up energy and emotions, and it can help them to manage difficult experiences. Not only that, it also doesn’t cost parents a penny, as long as they have access to safe spaces.
Sadly though, children’s engagement with the outdoors has been impacted by recent lockdowns. A survey by Natural England, published in October 2020, revealed that six in 10 children have spent less time outdoors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 70 per cent want to spend more time outdoors with friends after the pandemic.
At Regatta, we believe that every child should have access to safe places to play outside and we look forward to a time when children can play outdoors without any restrictions. Until then, we’ve asked children to design their own dream green spaces. Read on to find out what they came up with and for some fun family-friendly ideas for you and your little wildlings to enjoy in the upcoming warmer months.
Seren, aged 7
Seren’s ultimate green space brings together some of the best things about the summer months - eating ice cream, splashing in swimming pools, whizzing down slides and soaring high on the swings at the playground. Seren has wisely thrown a restaurant, a shaded picnic area and a superhero in for good measure too. What more could a kid want!
Paris, aged 8
Budding gymnastics will love Paris’ vision of the perfect outdoor play area. With balance beams, high bars, a wooden gym horse, landing mats, and trampolines galore, Paris has created the ideal place to improve your balance, coordination, strength and flexibility in the fresh air. Surrounded by rolling hills, blooming flowers and bathed in sunshine, this is a truly idyllic outdoor gym. Anyone for a handstand?
Tobias, aged 8
Organised sporting activities may have been off the agenda for children in recent months, but that’s not the case at Tobias’ dream green space. He has designed a soccer pitch to rival many Premier League grounds with an awesome set of monkey bars just outside it. Need to cool down after all that running around? No worries - there’s a swimming pool right next to the pitch. And if you want to relax those muscles after a kickabout, why not take a dip in the adjacent hot tub?
Jack, aged 9
According to the writer Gilbert K. Chesterton, ‘heaven is a playground’, and we think you’ll agree that Jack’s playground looks pretty wonderful. With a slide, swings, spring rockers and climbing frames set against a backdrop of tall trees, it’s the perfect place for kids to explore, build their confidence, and make friends and memories that will last a lifetime. And the best part? This fantastic playground has its own super high zipwire, so kids can see how it feels to fly through the air. Would you dare to have a go?
E, aged 10
Missing theme parks? Us too, and E has definitely whetted our appetite for thrillseeking adventures with this amazing play destination, complete with a huge snaking tunnel slide, a massive zipline and a hair-raising roller coaster. If you fancy some time on solid ground, you can race your mates on go karts, enjoy a game of five-a-side courtesy of the fold-out goal posts, or just chill out on the beanbags. And with drones available to fly, you can capture all the fun of the day on camera to remember forever.
Family-friendly outdoor activity ideas for spring and summer
Looking for outdoor activity inspiration? Here are three great ways you and your family can enjoy the great wide open in the upcoming months.
If a stroll around your local area has lost its appeal, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways you can put some fun back into your walks. Whether it’s safe to venture a bit further afield or you have to stay local, you can get you and your children active and having fun by playing games and doing activities like these along the way:
- Nature scavenger hunt - Little kids love pocketing pebbles and foraging for feathers, so why not turn their natural collecting instincts into a fun mission? Create a list of plants, animals and natural objects to find and have them tick them off along your route.
- Car colour game - If you live in an urban area, why not each choose a colour before you set off and then tally up how many cars you see in each colour along the way? The person who chose the most spotted colour wins.
- I Spy - It’s a classic for a reason. Not only will this fun letter game have you enjoying a bit of healthy competition, it’s educational too. For younger children, you can replace letters with colours so everyone can get involved.
- Geocaching - Older children especially will love this activity. The concept: items are hidden in particular locations for you to find using GPS by inputting coordinates posted online into geocaching apps.
Gardening can have a multitude of benefits for children and adults alike. It can help little kids to hone their fine motor skills and allow for fun sensory exploration. It can also give older children an opportunity to develop a sense of responsibility and allow them to put their maths and science skills into practice. Whether you create your own fruit and vegetable patch, make a flower bed or simply grow some cress or sunflower seeds on your windowsill, gardening is a fantastic way to get in touch with nature and has been scientifically proven to improve both mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Every kid should experience the joy of kite flying at some point during their childhood. Whether you build your own kite or buy one of the many different sized and shaped kites available, all you need is some open space, a windy day, strong arms and someone to help with launching it. This mindful activity is a fantastic way to get out in nature, enjoy some exercise, have fun with your family and let your imagination run wild. Just imagine what it would feel like to soar that high...
What would your dream green space look like? Want to share your own ideas for outdoor fun? We’d love to hear from you. Join in the conversation using the hashtag #OurGreenSpace.