Playgrounds: Beyond the Equipment

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by kishta allen. Spring is here and summer is right around the corner. For most of us that means that we’ll be spending a lot of time at the local playground. One difficult task about visiting the same playground repeatedly is that children start to get a bit bored after the 5th or 6th time. Ideally this is when a new park could be introduced, however not all of us have the luxury of living or working in a multiple park neighborhood.  Spruce up your park visit with the below list of games in order to keep your little ones engaged and outdoors as much as possible this summer. Better yet, get their friends involved or meet new friends to play with you!

Here are some ideas:

I-Spy: Have them locate shapes, numbers, letters, or objects that begin with a specific letter. You can change the level of difficulty depending on the age of your charges.

Hopscotch: Bring along some chalk from home and start a game of hopscotch. This can be a great way to practice numbers and some more complicated gross motor skills for younger charges.

Obstacle course: You can use chalk and design a course with directions written out. For example, draw a triangle, a square, and a rectangle. Then write that at the triangle you spin, at the square you do ten jumping jacks, and at the rectangle you meow like a cat. Change these based on the ages of your charges.

Obstacle course race: Using the equipment at the playground, set up a set of activities they have to do and keep track of how long it takes them. If you aren’t with friends, have them try to beat their own time. This is usually best when the playground is fairly empty so the kids have enough room to run!

Collage: Collect things from around the playground to take home and make a collage. Better yet, bring the supplies to the playground and make it right there!

Nature Faces: Use natural supplies around the playground to make faces on the sidewalk. Use dandelions for hair, rocks for eyes, etc.

Safari: Take animal figures from home and hide them around the playground. Give your charges a checklist of what they need to find. To make it a little more realistic, bring a set of binoculars and make a real safari out of it!

4-Sqaure: Bring some chalk and a ball to start a game of 4-Square. Look up instructions before you head to the park in case you don’t remember how to play.

Jump Rope: Use the skills from when you were a kid to teach a fun new game to your charges.

Tag: Get the blood pumping and start a game of tag. For older charges, mix it up with different variations such as freeze tag, TV tag, or blob tag.

Ensuring that kids get plenty of physical activity will make the long days with no school go by faster and will help them in their growth and physical development. This is also a great way to enhance their social development as it opens them up to socializing with other kids and teaches them to cooperate with people they don’t know well. With minimal planning, you can make every visit to the playground the best one yet and keep everyone learning during your visits.