What to do with young children when they are bored? Want to keep them away from the Playstation or iPad? Feel like they haven’t been outside in ages and need some fresh air? Feel you haven’t any money for treats and days out?
If the answer is yes, then this blog post is for you!
Things to do in the woods or in your garden or at the park….and they are all free!
1. Find a stick! Children love sticks and they can be really fun. Draw in the mud with it. Pretend it’s Stick Man, is it a wand? is it a sword? Collect loads and make a giant nest with them or a den. Fun with sticks is endless.
2. Hide and Seek This is still a great favourite of mine. Young children have Not become bored by the old games remember so this is a fun game to play in the woods! The same with “40, 40 in!” or “back to base”. Play the classics, kids love them. Take a soft toy with you for younger children to seek. This keeps them interested and remember to keep an eye on your children! Perhaps have some rules first about coming if you call them by name so that they don’t get lost.
3. Fairies and Trolls. Pretend games come alive in the woods. Look for holes that could just be a fairy house. If you visit the same place often you could add to a fairy garden over time. Make a stick table or bed. Use leaves as covers. I am planning on making a fairy garden one day at the bottom of my garden. You can buy all sorts of fairy bits and bobs nowadays….add a fairy door. You can also take your child’s favourite small world toy (Play Mobil, car, Sylvanian family creature, Polly Pocket etc) and use these. The game will be more appealing if your child is playing with their favourite toy.
4. Make woodland creatures or monsters. Use mud (or clay from home) to create faces on the trees. Add leaves, sticks and other woodland materials to make the hair, eyes and facial features. Try to spot the creatures the next time you visit.
5. Lie on the floor and look up! You can get a really different experience from doing this and may see birds or squirrels in the trees. Help your child to lie still and be quiet so they can also hear the sounds of the woods. I think this helps children appreciate their surroundings.
6. Make a potion. This was a favourite of mine when I was growing up. Basically take a cup and fill it with all sorts of bits and pieces you find. Add water to make a potion or perfume. You child will probably love to stir it and pretend it’s something delicious too! Just remind them not to drink it!
7. Collect stuff. Very young children naturally like to make collections. Give them a bag to collect things in or add double-sided sticky tape to the arm of their coat and let them stick the things they find onto themselves. This means things don’t get lost and they have their hands free. To make this more appealing to slightly older children ask them to find one amazingly special thing to keep. Either a beautiful stone or a leaf. Remember to leave wild flowers and anything alive alone.
8. Take a large piece of paper with you or make a clearing in the mud. Make a collage or sculpture using natural materials. This is fun if it’s Autumn or if there are larger stones and branches about.
9. Make a necklace or crown. Again, double-sided sticky tape is great for this. Add it to a crown of paper and take off the top layer when you are in the woods. Then your child can add leaves, twigs and other natural materials they find to make a Forest Crown.
10. Make tracks. Older children will like this one. Show children how to make arrows using sticks that they can lay on the floor to make tracks. One child has to make a track for another to follow. Can they find each other? You could make it into a Capture the Flag type game too in teams. Acting out stories. Going on a bear hunt anyone? This is loved by everyone, especially the squishy mud part!
So there we have it! 10 fun games that get your children outdoors and it doesn’t involve a penny.
A blog about my life in The Old House, a mum to teenagers, a primary school teacher and my passion for gardening.