By Renee Enna, Tribune Newspapers
May 1, 2012
Fun in the fresh air is as close as the door — but how to get those kids off the couch and out of the house? Here are a few clever ideas for parents (fresh air does you good, too, by the way) from Parenting.com.
Nature projects: Involve your tween in building a birdhouse or planting a butterfly garden — or just a tree. Find more ideas at the National Wildlife Federation website (go to nwf.org/outside).
Take a hike: Ask your child to help plan a trek with a specific destination, whether it's a waterfall in a state park or a local landmark closer to home. Then (and this is key) let her invite a friend. She'll be more engaged with a pal.
Make a splash: Challenge him to a water fight. Use familiar standards, such as water balloons and squirt guns, or get creative with sponges or squirt bottles.
Tap into their techie side: Send your budding director outdoors with a digital video camera to film a movie with friends. Be sure to plan a screening too.
Rebecca Cohen, author of "15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids" (Sourcebooks), has two more ideas:
Speed racer: Design an obstacle course in your backyard or local park. Climb over a log, touch a rock, race to the third tree, and run back!
Stick-athlon: Have everyone collect sticks and spell out letters, words, even special messages. Want to make the task tougher? Have them build a tunnel of branches to crawl through.
Speaking of sticks: "The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do with a Stick" by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks (Frances Lincoln) is a small book filled with pictures and ideas, all to encourage outdoor adventures. Ideas include making hobby animals (a sock affixed to a large branch equals a horse. Add two oak leaves and you've got a moose) and turning sticks into magic wands.
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