Happy Earth Day!
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than getting outdoors for some activity and making a point to enjoy the wonderful bounties of the planet?
Need some inspiration? Let's get started!
Get out there and appreciate the blue sky, the smell of grass, and the sound of nature all around you! It's easy to forget about all the wonders of Mother Nature, but she is still there making it all happen! Take a moment to welcome all her gifts back to your senses.
All it takes is a bee sting, the nagging need to mow the lawn (again), or a sunburn to bring you back to reality. Yes, the Earth is good - but maybe we can also just use the outdoors plain and simple to help us get a little fresh air and exercise with our kids - but don't forget the sunscreen!
I looked around our website (www.wichealth.org) to find some ideas to share with you. I took the ideas below from a few of our resources that can be found in the lesson titled Happy, Healthy, Active Children. I will link the resources that inspired me below for your use! 😊
Here are my top favorite things to do with my kids outside:
10. WATER. This is truly the best on those HOT days! Safety first - We spend blocks of time at the pool. I keep a close eye on my kids at all times - even when there is a lifeguard. I guard my kids with my life! We also love just fooling around with the hose - much less demanding.
9. Ride bicycles together - this one is a little stressful for me, but I do love it. I prefer bike paths where cars are nowhere to be seen. And I don't know about you, but my kids always want to put up a stink about wearing a helmet (especially when it is really warm). I never let them win this one - if they are determined to get their way, we choose a different activity. Talk about healthy compromises. 😊
8. Walk our dogs - this is a win-win for the four-legged creatures as well as the two-legged ones! We always use a leash and bring along some baggies for responsible dog ownership duties. Hey! I never miss a teachable moment.
7. Take a nature hike in the local trails - We have also caught on to the geocaching fun! My kids love a destination AND the joy of sharing a small trinket. If you haven't tried it - you should! It's so fun.
6. Wash our cars! I mean who doesn't need their car washed? My car is always dirty. The kids just think it is fun! Sudsy bubbles, a hose, and some good tunes blaring from my car stereo - good times.
5. Sidewalk chalk - I love to write inspirational messages which serve as double duty for spelling practice and fine motor skills for my littles who want to try too. But don't get me started with endless hopscotch or towns with mini roads leading all over our sidewalks. Once our roads are constructed, my boys get out their matchbox cars - say hello to a moment to sit back and watch them use their imaginations!
4. Kick the soccer ball or play basketball - these are just plain fun, and I never think this is exercise - instead it's just playing. The exercise is a subtle bonus.
3. Have a picnic! Though this one does take a little planning ahead, I love to eat in different places. We have even tried car picnics when we have practices and no time to go home for a traditional dinner.
2. Blow bubbles and fly kites! There is something so soothing and magical about blowing bubbles! Flying a kite is fun too - but I like the simplicity of bubble blowing rather than relying on wind.
And my absolute most favorite activity. . .
1. Tend to our family vegetable garden!! This one is the best. It is educational, satisfying, and fun!
How do you start your own vegetable garden?! So glad you asked!
I have some ideas for you! I also found these in our lesson titled Be Healthy With Veggies And Fruits. I will link the resources below for your viewing pleasure.
Use your local library to get more ideas about how to garden! Encourage your kids to pick up some other fun books while you are there! I love dual serving errands.
You don't need an entire acre or really even a small area in your yard. Start your gardening journey small. Use planter pots! Take pleasure in watching small vines produce beautiful fruits! If you do well with that, expand next season. Little by little you can increase your knowledge, ability, and space.
Don't be afraid to get dirty! This one is tough for me, but my philosophy is the more you wear it, the more you really put yourself into the joy of whatever you are doing! Your kids will love this. Trust me. Your tub and shower may not as much though. Fair warning.
Let those little fingers and hands feel the Earth. Let your kids, plant, water, and pull the weeds. Oh! But from experience, make sure you show them what is a weed and what isn't. One summer my garden was weeded. Fully.
Some good plants to start in your garden together:
tomatoes - you might want to buy the small plant from the store but you can also start these early from seed. Tomato plants have lots of growth and produce RED tomatoes! If you are unlucky like me every year, you might even meet a green horn worm or two! My kids are grossly fascinated by these horrid creatures.
carrots - these are pretty hardy. Kids are usually amazed that the orange carrots are growing in the ground under all the greenery.
sugar snap peas - these are one of my favorites to grow. They produce vines which grow quickly, they produce sweet little blossoms, and the peas are so fun for kids to nibble on right off the vine.
cucumbers - these are also fast growing and produce a lot of fruit. My kids love garden cucumbers. They taste better than store bought.
watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkins - these do require more space - but they are very impressive to watch grow!
Consider a community garden. If you don't have lots of space at home, community gardens provide a great place to dig in the dirt, meet some new friends, and learn more from others. Here is a handy link to find a community garden near you!
Check out these links for more ideas like the ones above or take the lessons:
Grow Your Own: Start by planting seeds
Play For All: 50 fun activities
If you are looking for other great ideas for fresh produce you can grow or ways to stay active outside, please check out www.wichealth.org. You can find the lessons that inspired my thoughts above with Be Healthy With Veggies And Fruits in the Choosing Healthy Foods category and Happy, Healthy, Active Children found in the Keeping Your Family Healthy category.
About the contributor...
My name is Terisa, and I'm a wichealth team member and oversee the wichealth blog. I am a vegetarian and mother of 3 kids. I love to garden in the Spring and run outside in all of the seasons. Earth Day has a special place in my heart! 💙 I hope you enjoyed this Earth Day post.