One of my favourite things about spending time with my son outdoors is the calming effect it has on him…and me! Here are 10 outdoor activities that can be calming for children.
Over the past year and a half, we have had to spend a lot more time indoors which has greatly affected children’s ability to regulate their emotional responses to stress. We all need an outlet for our energy, especially children.
A really easy and effective way to improve emotional regulation skills is simply by going outside together. Outdoor activities can be extremely calming, there are so many positives that come from being in nature and engaging with it. It can calm even the most restless children. Being outside provides space for them to run, play and take risks in a safe environment. Here are 10 outdoor activities to calm children.
What are the benefits of getting outdoors with children?
- Outdoor activities are a really great way to release built-up energy in a healthy way.
- Time outdoors raises Vitamin D levels which are proven to help to reduce depression and anxiety.
- Symptoms of ADHD have been shown to improve for many children after spending time in nature.
- It offers time away from busy routines and everyday life which can be very calming for children.
1. Go for a nature walk
The easiest way to enjoy an outdoor activity together is to simply go on a walk through nature. You can do this in virtually any space, we love to visit local parks and try out different trails. Take a nature hunt checklist with you. Or just take a bag and collect interesting bits of nature such as leaves, twigs and pinecones.
2. Paint rocks
Painting rocks is a brilliant way to be mindful with children as well as creating something beautiful from nature. Children love collecting rocks of different shapes and sizes, so it’s fun to use their natural curiosity to hunt down some special rocks, take them home and paint them together. We love painting different characters on each rock and making the story’s from the stones. This is a great way to use all of that amazing childhood imagination! You can go one step further and hide them in a local area for others to find on their own nature adventures.
3. Make shadow art
We love this shadow art activity because it is such a simple way for your child to improve their focus. This is something that can then in turn can lower a child’s anxiety. All you need is paper, a pencil or crayon, toy figures (we find animals and dinosaurs work well), and a sunny day!
4. Sort nature into colours
Another really easy activity is to spend some time outside with your child gathering leaves and flowers and sorting them into different colour groups. This is a fun way to create nature collages as well. All you need is glue and paper. See what you can create together!
Stargazing is such a wonderful way to escape everyday life distractions and connect with your children. You can have meaningful conversations between spotting the stars. These are moments of calm and mindfulness that teach skills to last their lifetime. You can download great free apps online that name and explain the stars, planets and constellations you are looking at. They are a fantastic tool for further learning and something we love to use especially on camping trips. You can now get some fantastic value telescopes for under £100, which will allow you and your children to view stars, planets and the moon in much more detail.
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6. Have a campfire
Practically, campfires teach fire safety, fire-lighting skills and offer a calming space using the natural environment. This is a great therapeutic tool as you are creating a welcoming, cosy and safe setting for children to express themselves and connect with the people around them. They are a lovely way to spend time as a family, be open with each other, tell a story or two and toast marshmallows. Learn about the best wood to use on a fire pit here.
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7. Make a mess in a mud kitchen
Mud kitchens are a brilliant tool to guide imaginative play. Children can experiment with ideas and stories, and explore different textures and consistencies freely. Playing in the mud and dirt and taking part in an activity they wouldn’t normally do can be very therapeutic and calming for children. You can buy these already made or get crafty together and make your own from recycled materials.
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8. Cook outdoors together
Using fire children have made themselves, preparing and cooking the food they are going to eat is calming and very satisfying for children. They can discover the wonders of food changing their state through preparation and heat and feel the satisfaction of eating food they’ve worked to make. Cooking is a really relaxing way to spend time together.
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9. Try gardening together
Gardening is really good for our mental health. Giving children the opportunity to learn how to grow and care for plants is a great way to give them responsibility. It’s a great way to be in the moment, it will help them feel calm and grounded.
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10. and our personal favourite…head to the beach!
We are so very lucky to live close to the beach, whenever things get a little much, we grab a bucket and a spade and head to the beach to rockpool, play, paddle and watch the sunset. In the Winter we wrap up and take in the sea air. It’s hard not to feel calm and at peace at the beach, we find the change in scenery works wonders for children to feel calmer.
Let us know your favourite outdoor activity to calm children in the comments. We love to hear from you.