Outdoor Entertainment with Kids Near Home
Social distancing may be in full effect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take the kids (and ourselves) outside. We just need to avoid public places and keep our distance from people we may run across. Getting outside - even if for just a few minutes, can be the invigorating reset we all need - before heading back inside. From the looks of it, local parents are getting creative on keeping kids active outdoors and are happy to exchange ideas. Here are some:
Last weekend, my son Eli, a third grader at Beth Yeshurun Day School, suggested we go Geocaching together. It is something he has wanted to try for a long time and we now had the perfect opportunity. Geocaching – described as “the world’s largest treasure hunt” on its website - involves using a GPS on the activity’s app to search for hidden boxes containing surprise items. The idea is to take the found item and replace it with a new one for someone else to find. It’s free to join and, just around Houston, there are 3,890 geocaches, according to the website.
The two of us set out for a walk in our neighborhood, with only my phone and a toy truck, to replace the item we hoped to find. Eli got to be in charge, using the map to figure out where to go. We just had one big street to cross, to end up a new neighborhood where the cache was supposed to be. We kept narrowing in on the area, but there just was nothing there, unfortunately. Sometimes the caches’ listings are old, and not there anymore. It was still a fun experience, though.
It was a great way to get outside, with a goal, whether or not we reached it. Eli found a downed powerline log to balance on and try out some cartwheels. We got to see houses we never see, and really noticed the painted electrical boxes and landscaping on our search. Letterboxing is another similar activity, where you search for hidden booklets to mark with your own rubber stamp. You can look for clues to find letterboxes online. You can also hide your own geocaches and letterboxes.
Ben Lepow, a sixth grader at Emery Weiner School, figured out how to play basketball with a friend - remotely. He and fellow classmate, Jake Yomtov, brought their iPhones outside to their respective home basketball hoops. They then took turns shooting baskets while playing the classic game Horse, and letting each other know how to take their next shot. Each time a player misses a shot they earn a letter towards spelling the word “Horse.” The last person left to not spell the word wins.
Amy Mincberg has been making sure her children Charlie, a kindergartener at Condit Elementary, and Madeline, a preschooler at BYDS, engage in creative activities every day. This week, they went on a Montessori-inspired outdoor color scavenger hunt with a homemade grid of colored squares for them to place items they found. They found so many colorful flowers that they may not have noticed otherwise.
With two materials that many of us may have on hand, painter’s tape and colored chalk, the Loyd family created a “gorgeous masterpiece,” according to mom Alex. Alex’s father found this idea online and thought of his granddaughters Emerson and Abby, in third and first grade at Valley Oaks Elementary School. They made geometric designs using painter’s tape, and colored in the spaces with chalk, creating a temporary artwork which will wash away in the rain. “We had so much fun!” shared Alex.
- Search for the whole alphabet on street signs and cars while out for a walk.
- Take advantage of the warm weather and play outdoors in sprinklers or a Slip ‘n Slide.
- Create colorful arts of work on the sidewalk with chalk or create a fun game of hopscotch or four-square. We got creative with our hopscotch by adding an infinity space and negative spaces as well.
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