Living in a city gives you so many opportunities with access to all the amenities you might need. It is easy to get wrapped up in the city life travelling from one place to another and forgetting about setting time aside to spend time outdoors. Now luckily if you live in a place like Madrid there are lots of parks around that are great for getting children to spend time outdoors but even as the colder months start it is important to spend time in the fresh air.
Spending time outside ensures you get enough Vitamin D, to improve bone strength, and stabilises your mood. Taking a walk and enjoying nature can decrease anxiety levels and boost your immune system. There are a multitude of reasons to spend time outside so how can you make sure your children make the most of nature while you are in a city.
One thing that is important to remember is that if it’s raining or a little muddy that doesn’t mean that children have to stay inside. They have a coat and wellington boots for a reason. Make the most of what is around you no matter the weather. As long as the children are safe they should be free to play outside.
Often children are happy to go outside on their own accord. We don’t need to control what the children are doing as long as they are safe. Children naturally explore their surrounds and come up with new and exciting games even if they are in a simple playing field. So let them enjoy the outside and explore together. However, here we are going to discuss some activities that might be good to do outside with your children, if they want to do something a little different.
Get some paper and crayons then head outside. Making rubbings is a process where you place the paper over a surface that has an interesting pattern then go over the top with a crayon or pencil. This will leave the pattern on the paper. This activity is great for when you are outside because there are so many natural surfaces you can use. For example, leaf rubbings are very common. You could gather different leaves from the nearby park during the autumn time and do rubbings of the different leaves. This could be made into an educational activity by trying to identify the tree from the type of leaves it has. The children can compare the rubbings of the leaves they have made with the leaf shape for different trees. By using different colours for the rubbings you can make very pretty artwork and designs.
Create a scavenger hunt for the children outside. This can be in the garden if you have one or if not in a local park. Depending on their age you can hide different items or snack. A treasure hunt is always fun for children and it is a great way to be outside in nature.
Go collecting! Depending on where you are and the time of year, you can go collecting pebbles, shells, conkers and leaves. Then when you are back at the house you can use these to make some art. You can get as creative as you like with this. From making an autumnal card with multicoloured leaves on it to making the leaves look like scales of a mermaids fin. Let the children be creative and create what they enjoy. This way inspiration for the art is coming from outside. With conkers or pinecones, you could even decorate these as ornaments for Christmas time.
Go fruit or vegetable picking. This is obviously depended on the season but it is a great opportunity to teach children where their food comes from, while getting them outside. If a child can have their own little basket to collect the strawberries in and taste a few along the way they are definitely going to have a fun day. There are lots of opportunities for this in and around cities.
Set up an obstacle course! This is always a lot of fun for children and can help them to get active. This can be as complex or easy as you like and depends on what space you have available to you. If you are just in a park you can use little markers to depict where the children should go. Get them skipping, hopping, catching, crawling past a different obstacle to reach the finish line. You can time them so the children have a goal of getting the quickest time. If you have more than one child then they could compete against one another. This activity can be made different every time so there are endless opportunities.
These five activities are quite varied but give you a good idea of different ways to spend time outside in a city or to bring nature into the home. I hope this has inspired you to get some fresh air and get children exploring their natural environment.