EXPLORE + PLAY to Exercise your Body and Grow your Brain

Nadine Reeves, Childreach

Playing outdoors makes children smarter, healthier and happier! Active play in nature and outdoors – with its risks – is essential for healthy child development. Best of all, the outdoors is all around us, and it’s free. And the best way to get your kids outside is to go with them.

Here are some family fun activity ideas that you can do in the woods at no cost!

  • Climb a tree or a stump.
  • Practice balancing on a fall log.
  • Build a shelter.
  • Make a pretend campfire using twigs and sticks from the forest floor. Add in some orange and red tissue paper to create realistic, make-believe flames. Sing campfire songs.
  • Write words and draw pictures using leaves, stones and sticks.
  • Explore wildlife. Look for clues such as footprints, holes and nibbled nut shells. Take pictures or sketch, and research your findings at home.
  • Take some books. There’s something special about reading under a tree.
  • Collect art materials. Gather twigs, leaves, bark, feathers, pinecones, acorns, maple keys, stones . . . from the forest floor, take them home and create artistic masterpieces.
  • Borrow some educational books from the library on different flora and fauna. Use them to identify wildflowers, trees, insects, birds, etc.
  • Pack a picnic. Keeping kids fed and watered means they’ll want to stay longer. Just remember to take your litter home.

If going into the woods alone intimidates you, there is a nature-based program in London for parents and their children called Wild Child, and it’s free too! Families meet at 10 a.m. every Thursday at Art on a Limb Studio in Westminster Ponds and every Saturday at the Museum of Ontario Archeology in Medway Forest. Every day is an adventure where we head out into the woods to explore and enjoy the fresh air. Dress for the weather, and remember your water bottles and snacks. No registration required. All ages welcome. For more information, please visit www.childreach.on.ca/wild-child.