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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Clan: 9 Ways to Play as a Family

Photo by Jhong Dizon (Flickr)

Summer's here, and it's without a doubt my favorite time of the year. The fresh, balmy air eases tension and invites plenty of free play. Whether it's swimming, camping, or even just appreciating summer for what it is, it's always such a delight for the whole family. We know how fleeting this lush, lively weather is here in Indiana, so we try to make every moment count. We laugh, play, connect, create and love our way through the hazy days of summer!

My girls love to play on their own, and that's wonderful. It empowers them to make creative decisions, explore confidence-boosting risks and be independent. But when the whole family plays together, the power of play unfolds in new ways. It builds teamwork, communication, pride and so much more. Here are nine ways that we play outdoors as a family and how you can, too.

  1. "Tag, You're It": Not only can classic games like this be fun for your children, but it can be fun for you as well, as it can bring back memories from your childhood. While classic tag rocks, there are also so many fresh variations to try. Plus, you'll get a healthy dose of cardio while you're on the run!
  2. Jump in the Pool: My girls are mermaids. Do you also have amphibious little ones in your bunch? The water is a "pool" of endless play possibilities. Independent play, exploration and group games like Marco Polo! Water safety is also an essential skill to have, so consider enrolling your kids into a class to get them started.
  3. Head to the Playground: What kid doesn't love going to the playground? Check out the local playground and have some fun with your kids, whether it's soaring on the swings or climbing the monkey bars. Playgrounds are the perfect landscape for kids to move, explore and imagine. As for you, try some of these handy playground exercises to keep up with your little adventurers!
  4. Be Artistic: When I was a kid, I took the driveway by storm with a frenzy of colorful chalk. I urge you to offer some chalk to your kids and watch the magic happen! Join them and create masterpieces together. It's an outlet of self-expression and it will help enhance their creativity as well.
  5. Simon Says: Always a laughter-filled game to play, Simon Says is a classic that will teach your children about paying attention to detail! Sure, this is something that you could play inside, but why not do it outside and revel in the dazzling weather?
  6. Build a Sand Castle: The beach is one of our favorite places to go when on vacation, and if you live near one, you're especially lucky. Building a sand castle, whether it's on the beach or even in a sandbox, can tease out the budding architect in you and your kids. It also encourages us to value the joy of the process just as much as the result.
  7. Not All Indoor Activities Have to Be Indoors: Shake things up and take board games outside! We bring along Apples to Apples on picnics and enjoy a healthy serving of leisure and laugher in the warm breeze. Twister is also fabulous on the grass as it adds a whole new element of balance!
  8. Nighttime Bowling: Bowling is a fun indoor activity for a rainy day, but I dare you to take it outside under the stars. Pop some glow-sticks in water bottles and use them as pins! It looks magical and the challenge of aiming the ball in the dark is so much fun!
  9. Run Through the Sprinkler: Sprinklers are a wonderful way to cool off. You can even throw a sprinkler dance contest; who can pull off the wildest dance move as they leap through the water? It makes for some hilarious photos, too!

What activities does your family enjoy together during the summer? I'd love to hear all about them!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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