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Playtime Outside!

Playtime Outside!

A friend of ours called recently to check in…she said that when her girls were little and her husband was in school she would take her littles outside and give them a ball to play with and that they’d play for quite awhile before she brought them home, tired and ready for bed.

I know playtime outside is important and of course anything you can do to keep kids busy is helpful! 😉 This past Saturday the boys seemed extra busy and Derick was at school studying, so I thought of my friend’s words and we headed outside! They thoroughly enjoyed playing with balls, climbing trees, picking grass and other things.

Sometimes I forget how enjoyable the simple things are, not to mention what good some fresh air and sunshine can do! It isn’t always “easy,” and doesn’t guarantee that you won’t expend just as much energy as they will at this stage by just trying to keep this one from eating dirt, or helping the other one get “unstuck” in the tree, or just kicking the ball around and/or fetching it from the ditch. lol All in all it was a great time. I captured some of the fun in the pictures below! 🙂

Anyone else have thoughts on great ways to keep little ones occupied? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

 

The photos above are considered the property of the Dillard Family and may only be used with their written permission. Please request permission to use the photos.

51 Comments

  1. Traci Brst

    Bubbles!
    Small trampoline
    Little Tikes Basketball

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Traci, Love these ideas! -Jill

      Reply
  2. Darlene I Allen

    When my children were little and I baby sat for others when it was cold or rainy outside we got buckets. The buckets we filled with enough water to put a little Pone Sol in with it give them a rag and we would clean walls. I showed them how to wring out the rags really well so water wouldn’t get everywhere even though it sometimes did. The would was and clean and loved it, it kept them busy and the walls were really clean. Water on the floor was then mopped up crawling around get it sopped up and we had clean floors. Another chore was let’s take stuff out of this cabinet and organize it. They would argue as to who was getting I. To clean back of cabinet. One child would organize all like items like the peas, corn, macaroni what ever and give it to another as they brought it back to be put into cabinet.sometimes they played store before they were put back. I always tried to incorporate my chores into play time with them.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Haha This sounds fun! Sam loves to play with our canned goods. He stacks them up just like his little stacking blocks.

      Reply
  3. Janet Hecker

    Good for you! I think with boys, especially playing outside running around being physically active, practicing gross motor skills is so important. They need it. I bet they slept well later on, too.
    Hang in there. It’s hard when you are alone with littles much of the time. Girlfriends and play dates got me thru and of course, Jesus! He is everything you need!

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thanks!

      Reply
  4. Cynthia Lang

    tricycles, hopscotch

    Reply
  5. Claire

    Hello from Ireland… My daughter will be 2 in December and she loves finding leaves so now we try and find as many we can in different colours.. She is learning her colours and counting at the same time. In what you said… Sometimes it really is the simple things

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Hey Claire! Thanks for the idea! p.s. I’m 33% Irish according to a DNA test I took. 😉

      Reply
  6. Cassie

    This can be so tough as a parent! A few ideas:

    -Nature walk: give them a ziplock bag to put any cool treasures in. Could make a craft with the finds later (or not!)
    -Shaving cream: better for the warmer weather. I buy cheap shaving cream from the dollar store and give them a bucket of water to play with alongside it. If you have a small slide, it’ll really make you zip down!
    -Stickers: great way to entertain while doing chores nearby.
    -Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube: wonderful for getting out the wiggles when you’re stuck indoors.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Such great ideas! We love taking walks and Israel loves finding me things…we will have to try the nature walk idea! Love the other ideas too!

      Reply
  7. Jennifer W

    Sidewalk chalk for drawing and hopscotch leaves nothing to clean up because rain will wash it away!

    Reply
  8. kelsie

    Not sure if your driveway is paved, but chalk was always a favourite of my brother and I growing up. A little messy sure, but so much fun! Also: quite cheap and it lasts a long time!

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Yes! We had some, but ran out! I need to restock! All these ideas are so great! I’m loving them! Thanks everyone!!

      Reply
      • Laura

        Hey Jill! For some reason I couldn’t leave a new comment, so I thought I’d comment in a reply
        Look for water tables on clearance as the summer season ends – they are fun and keep my 2 littles happy for a long time. I’d recommend looking up @busytoddler on Instagram as she has great sensory bin ideas. Most of them involve cheap items (dry rice/beans or flour, and toys or kitchen utensils from the dollar tree).

        Reply
        • Derick & Jill

          Thanks! Gonna do that now!

          Reply
  9. Sarah

    Just like you said, keep it simple. My 3 year old likes to “help” water plants and our yard when we planted grass. He loves being able to use the hose by himself to spray water all around the yard. He also has a mini wheel barrow that he uses to haul dirt and rocks from one spot to another with. Gets out lots of energy!

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      So great! Thanks Sarah!

      Reply
  10. Pam

    Story time at a local library is always fun for little ones. Play date with friends at a local park when the weather is nice. When we were trapped at home in nasty weather. I like to pull out art supplies. finger paints are always fun, and not nearly as messy as you would think, tip get 2 cheap plastic shower curtains put one on the floor under the table and chairs the kids are at, and put the other on top of the table. Get old T-shirts and pants that are ok if they get ruined (and save them for future destruction) and you let them have at it with sheets of paper. I would go to Dollar General and get cheap poster boards as they were big and sturdy and held the paint better. After they are done, you put them in the tub and they can play in there for a while. When they are out of the tub and dressed plop them in front of a cartoon for 15/20 minutes to clean up the mess after that is all said and done you’ve killed 2.5 to 3 hours of your day.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Wow! Sounds like you’ve had some practice! Love this! Thanks!

      Reply
      • Kimberly

        So as a fellow boy mom anything to keep them busy is a life saver! We recently started making dinosaur eggs ( balloon with a plastic dinosaur add water and freeze) once its frozen solid peel the balloon away. Then the fun begins they must now figure out how to get the dino out!

        Reply
        • Derick & Jill

          So fun!

          Reply
  11. Regina Shea

    Dress up using some of Derick’s old clothes( shirts, hats, ties but be sure to cut them really short to prevent strangulation, briefcase from thrift store etc) Dress up can be done outside too

    Red Light Green Light but Sam might be too young but he might like the idea of running

    If you have an easel you can set it up outside and they can paint and even at Sam’ age he can figure it out

    You can’t beat good old playdough

    Throw a sheet over a table and they can play camping or they can pretend it’s a fort. My girls loved doing this. We even let them take snacks in their tent as long as they cleaned up after themselves

    Play in the rain and sing in the rain( not in a thunderstorm of course!)

    Put on some music and they can give you a ” concert”. My girls loved doing this.

    I know there are other ideas but that’s all I can think of at the moment.

    Reply
  12. Rachel

    My two little ones love drawing with sidewalk chalk, playing in small buckets with water and rocks (when it’s not too cold outside!), bubbles, short walks or rides in the wagon

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Love the small buckets with water idea! A friend of ours gives her little girl a spray bottle and she “paints” the wood privacy fence! 😉 Keeps her occupied for awhile!

      Reply
  13. TriSha loiseLle

    Our grandkids love pretending they are going to work when playing outside…either construction jobs with scrap wood blocks or digging in the dirt with shovel and dump trucks…playing with cars outside making roads etc.

    Reply
  14. William Henley

    Right now, I’m taking a mini-vacation to Lake City / Rocky Top (I will let you fill in the rest). I am sitting out at Norris Dam reading my Theology book and writing the book report. I’ve gotten more done in a few hours today than I have in the past two weeks trying to get through this book. Sometimes just a change in venue is good for the soul. A month ago, I visited Springdale, Arkansas for the same reason – change in venue.

    But sometimes putting the books down are good too. I’m supposed to meet up with some friends sometime today to help them get ready for a celebration on Friday. Waiting on the phone call now. I figured working with my hands and interaction with other humans would be good for me.

    As for kids, I’m still single and most of my friends and family had girls. I don’t have any advice for boys that little. Friends and relatives who have older boys, we bond over video games and computer building.

    Reply
  15. JeN

    Yes bubbles! My older girls (6&4) bought some bubbles at the weekend with some small change they’d been saving, and they have been outside playing for hours! My little girls (twins age 16 months) have loved chasing the bubbles around and been busy trying to pop them before they burst. A great activity for those ages, and only cost a little!

    Reply
  16. Naomi

    I put the fingerpaint in empty egg cartons sometimes. You can throw them away when you’re done.

    Our three boys love audiobooks during snack time. Or me reading aloud but it gets so exhausting 🙂 you probably have audiobooks available through your library since you’re in the states. we use the Epic! App. The youngest (3) loves Clifford 🙂

    Amen to playdough. Get a little bucket with arms and leggs and hats for making me potato, and ‘baking’ stuff.

    Bath time in the middle of the day happens here when they are wild.

    Walks outside.

    Snack tray with lots of healthy stuff in little bowls – feeds, entertains and it’s nutritious 🙂

    Reply
  17. Jenn

    I love going to Pinterest and find new ideas! Most recent was making puffy sidewalk paint! We also love bubbles! Scavenger hunts! Picnics! Walks/bike rides! Just about anything! You can turn raking leaves into something fun!

    Reply
  18. Lynne bollard

    We did magic beans on cold rainy days. Get about 10lbs if dry pinto beans and put them in a box. Get cheap measuring cups, spoons, containers and funnels. They loved learning to measuring things – how many scoops of measuring cups it takes to fill a container, how to funnel things and just generally feeling the beans with their little hands. Learning while playing!! They are 27, 23, and 18 now and still remember it. Tip – put a garbage bag in the box first and then beans. You can just pull the bag up and close to use for next time – all items store in the box.

    Reply
  19. Ellie

    Hi Jill,
    A set routine is always a good idea. I have a number things I can send you with loads of ideas. I used to teach Kindergarten and I now am self-employed so I don’t need the materials. (If you’re interested, that is)
    I sent a couple small cookbooks about a week ago so they should be arriving any day now.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thanks Ellie! That’s super sweet of you! I look forward to them! I’m always up for creative ideas. We don’t have a lot of space in the place we are right now, but I’d love to look over the things and pass them along if need be! -Jill

      Reply
  20. Rowena Harris

    Chalk on a cement wall is fun.
    Spray it clean afterwards, and the fun with the hose and broom is actually seen as a game in itself.
    All children should play outside… In Australia, we make sure that happens.
    In summer, we use the hose. We play make-believe, hide and seek…
    We walk. We use the playnthings in the park,
    Muddy, wet… fun!

    In winter we don’t do some of these things, obviously. We use fallen leaves to jump in, and bring inside and glue into craft projects…..
    We go to parks, and national parks, and look for animals.
    I live close to snow resorts, so we enjoy playing in the snow…

    Reply
  21. Jamie

    Play-Doh, shaving cream, paper for coloring in fun places-tape on wall or under the table, use eye droppers with vingear & baking soda is a favorite lately, sink or float game, flour and baby oil mixed together makes a moon sand. We love sensory play!!

    Reply
  22. Shan

    Get the book “the out of sync child has fun”. Great book for all kids for indoor and outdoor play. Kids need proprioceptive input via sensory play. Do whipped cream not shaving cream. Work on letter identification with sugar water On a tray. I build my kids educational toys. If you ever want help you can contact me.

    Reply
  23. S. Winby

    Make a sandbox! My kids lived in theirs when they were young. They had toys in there and shovels to clear a path for trucks and cars. Get a corn hole toss for them. Allow them to use their imaginations. Dressing up as cowboys and Indians were a big hit too. Get chalk to use on concrete. Take the boys leaf hunting and then let them glue them to paper to hang during this time of year.

    Reply
  24. Jay carroll

    Kids love and learn from outside play and that can then compliment inside play when it’s raining. Make each one an adventure, pack a little picnic and a few playthings. We used to pick a different place each time some were walking distance, others we drove a short way . Make or print a simple map of your local area and mark kid friendly spots like parks and trails and playgrounds and plan your next expedition like explorers, they’ll love it. Start a little treasures collection for what they bring home (culling discretely and kindly if it’s a bit OTT) and keep them in a “special” box with a note or a pic for the memory. Good practise for recounting and later for writing. Having them reach in and pick a treasure out then tell the story of how they found it. They can then draw a scene from the recounting and later write a little something about it. Boys can be more, well you know, full on with the play but at least we get some exercise too 🙂

    Reply
  25. ArmyWife

    The Zoo! My 23-year-old son and I still love to go to the zoo together.

    Do you have a tree that could hold a tire swing? Hang the tire horizontally and both boys can swing at same time.

    Probably the best money we EVER spent was for a trampoline and net. Throw a couple small pillows in with the boys and each can “wrestle” with his pillow. Put a sprinkler under or near the trampoline for water fun. When they’re not jumping and running, they, and you, can lie there and look at the clouds!

    Do they still make Big Wheels? Israel would love that.

    Have picnics – in the yard, at the park, under the kitchen table.

    Go to Children’s Museum.

    Sometimes I would put our little guy in the stroller and go to the mall. Didn’t buy a thing, just walked and looked, and let Son sit on or in every coin-operated horsie, spaceship, or race car we came across! Didn’t even have to pay to activate it; he was content to play and pretend he was riding or driving.

    Your blog post brought back many happy and fun, yet simple memories.

    Reply
  26. Nikki

    Hey Jill! At school my son has STEM bins and one he loves is a large assortment of pad locks with the keys tied to it with yarn. He said thats his favorite trying to figure out what key will fit. Isreal would probably love that too. – Nikki

    Reply
  27. Michelle

    We filled up my son’s pool with dried feed corn for sensory play! He loves to dump and fill the buckets and dump trucks. It is low cost (approx $5 per bag of corn) and keeps him busy for a long time! I hope everyone is adjusting well to your husband’s long hours at school. We just finished a long season of medical school then residency. It is long but totally worth it. Hang in there!

    Reply
  28. DEANNA Ford

    Jill,
    We live in Fayetteville and LOVE what the area has to offer for our young kiddos for free outside (ages 6, 4, 3, 8 months – 3 of them are boys). We love Wilson Park… the playground is new AND fun and we also love the castle there. My kids LOVE to play in the creek at Gulley Park – we just put some water shoes on them and they love to throw rocks and climb around in there… they do it for hours. The new trails at Mt Kessler (the next exit south of MLK) are VERY child friendly… much more so than Devils Den and are dirt instead of rocky so our kids love to run free on those. And of course in the summer they love the new splash pad in Springdale – although Walker Park in Fayetteville will have one open next summer. Hope you guys find a new groove with your hubs in school! My husband is busy a lot too so I know how it is!

    Reply
  29. SB

    A paintbrush and a bucket of water. Then let them “paint” the fence, the house, their toys.

    Reply
  30. Amanda

    I am a SAHM to an 18 month old baby boy. I do get a little bored and lonely from time to time so I try to plan something for most days of the week. For instance, Tuesday is story time at the library, Wednesday we visit my Mom, Thursday is baby swim class (more like baby splash around class at his age, lol) and then one day we will go to the park or for a nature walk. I try to always give him 20 or so minutes a day outside, rain or shine, as I’ve noticed he’s more cooperative when he gets some outside time.

    Hope things are going well for you and your boys! Take care.

    Reply
  31. Sarah B

    Charlotte Mason said “Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.” And that’s something I’ve tried to take to heart as a SAHM. When possible, we spend hours outside everyday. It cultivates the imagination, helps my boys to slow down and use all 5 senses, and teaches them to entertain themselves without electronics, TV, or flashing lights.

    Every Saturday, we wake up early, get a portable breakfast, and go to a nearby park. We eat at a picnic table and then hike or just play in the grass and woods until lunchtime. And that way, my sweet husband, who works a very stressful job for 50-60 hours a week, actually gets a day to sleep in. My oldest, who is 3, started a nature journal this summer. Every weekend, I encourage him to find something he knows nothing about, like a bug, a plant, or a rock. If it’s small, we take it home and tape it in his journal. If it’s alive or too big, we take a picture of it. Then we research his new treasure together during the following week and write down what we learned in his journal. My crazy, energetic 3-year-old once spent half an hour tracking a daddy long legs through the grass so he could learn as much as possible about his “new thing.”

    King Solomon was one of the wisest men in scripture, and a part of a passage in 1 Kings 4 discusses how much of his wisdom included knowledge about plant and animal life. I want my boys to grow to become wise men, and I believe that instilling them with a love of the natural world and teaching them to be good stewards of God’s creation plays a big part in developing wisdom.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thanks! So great. One of my sisters was just telling me about a Charlotte Mason book study she was doing with some friends. 🙂 Love these ideas!

      Reply
  32. Sandy

    Fill the bath tub or kiddie pool with water and color it using food dye. Will turn the water into whatever shade you want but will not dye their skin. Pick up a pack at the dollar tree. Had many great adventures, swimming in blue sea, find swamp monsters in a green pond, visit the yellow sun. The adventures we’re endless. Even after fun time ended and the soap and shampoo came out (had to sneak in a real bath. LOL

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      I’ve seen those colored bath cubes, but hadn’t thought about just using regular food coloring. 🙂 Thanks for the idea!

      Reply
  33. Joe

    Bubbles

    Reply
  34. Sandy

    Sorry if this post twice, but I has having computer issues and I don’t think post went thru. Fill the bathtub (or kiddie pool) with water and use food coloring to dye the water. (The color water will not dye your kid’s skin — note just let the dye drops dilute for a minute before putting kids in) We had many adventures with way. Playing boats in a blue ocean, swamp monster in a green marsh. Visit the yellow sun. (or just orange cause it’s his favorite color.) After play you can sneak in soap and shampoo to sneak in a bath) This favorite drew out of a way to get my son back into the tub. After a high 105 fever we needed the water to cool him, (after that bath time scared him — said water hurt his skin) But he couldn’t turn down a blue ocean for this boats.

    Reply
  35. Michelle

    We were lucky enough to have a big oak tree in our yard. My husband found an old tire and made our kids the best swing on the block. The whole neighborhood loved it! They took turns swinging each other, created dozens of seating positions, fit as many kid as possible on it, spun each other around as fast as they could then tried walking in a straight line, etc….. They played with that not only for hours at a time, but for several years! It’s amazing the things they can figure out on their own. Sometimes they need us to get out of the way and let their imaginations take off!

    Reply

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