By Lucy Stone, Networx
Creating places for kids to play outside not only encourages exercise, but it also promotes overall well-being.
Inspiring your kids to be more active outside is not as hard as you might think. All it takes is a little ingenuity and the proper tools, and before you know it, the kids will be dragging you outside.
Whether your outdoor space is large or small, one of the most important things you can do is designate a special area just for kids. And just as important, is including them with the planning and installation of the area, which gives them a sense of personal pride, as well as accomplishment.
For starters, you can either buy a swing set complete with swings, see-saws and slides, or you can build a simple tire or tree swing together, as well as a homemade see-saw. Not only will these projects remind them of their accomplishments, but they'll be proud to show their friends, encouraging them all to play outside.
Sandbox's are always a hit with kids of all ages. Be sure and include cars and trucks for the young kids, pails and other construction tools for older children, and rakes and rocks for teens so they can create their own Zen gardens.
For families who love to construct, design, plan and build your own treehouse, or playhouse. Not only will it provide protection from weather for the kids, but also a place of their own to play cards or create their own games.
Speaking of games, consider adding lawn games to the area, like crochet space, badminton court or horseshoe pit, which build sportsmanship, better relationships, and great memories. Other ideas include tetherball, kick ball fields, basketball hoops, soccer and roller hockey courts.
For the less athletic kids, encourage time outside by helping your kids build their own garden, or even a lemonade stand. For the scientific minded, create scavenger hunts that encourage identification of plants and animals, or just go on a hike to find salamanders in a local stream, or collect leaves for a homemade mural.
It doesn't take more than a little effort and creativity to encourage both you and your kids to spend more time outside. Not only does it create healthier and thus happier kids, it instills in them self-confidence and resourcefulness.