Get outside and mingle

It’s finally spring and time to get outside and enjoy!

With spring upon us, many of us are ready to get outside and take in the fresh air. We have been cooped up in our homes, with many of us behind a computer screen. Children in particular are spending less time in free and outdoor play and more time in front of screens at an alarming rate. Research has already indicated this to be one of the causes of obesity. We are also seeing lower social interaction as an effect of too much screen time.

By encouraging outside play, the benefits are plentiful. According to research, families that play outside regularly are fit, have better coordination, stronger immune systems, are more creative, have lower stress levels and increased respect for themselves and others.

This year, try bringing back old-fashioned outdoor games. Many of us have fond memories playing tag, kick the can, hide and seek, and jumping rope, but many of our children have never participated in these games. Right now is the perfect time to encourage old-fashioned fun.

  • Tag/freeze tag: To play, one person is “it” and they chase others and try to touch or tag them. Once another person is tagged they become “it” and this is repeated.
  • Capture the flag: The more players the better for this game involving two teams. Each team having a flag or marker for the team base. Each team tries to capture the other team’s flag without getting tagged by opponents.
  • Hopscotch: Draw the traditional hopscotch design and toss the rock onto the first square. Hop over the rock and jump onto each part of the diagram until the end and turn around and hop back.
  • Jump rope:  This can be played alone or in groups with many different versions.
  • Kickball: Just like baseball except you kick a large rubber ball. Great game for all ages to play together!
  • Red light, green light (also called statues): Players run when one person who has their backed turned says “green light”. Players freeze when that person turns around and says “red light”. Those caught moving must go back to the starting line. The first one to the traffic light wins!
  • Four square: Draw a large square on concrete with chalk and divide it into quarters. Two to four players can participate by bouncing the ball into another player’s square. If a player allows the ball to bounce twice or fails to hit it back, they’re out.

These are just a few great outdoor games that you and your family can do for a fun play time outside. Here are some additional sources on outdoor play and classic outside games:

For more information visit Michigan State University Extension. MSU Extension offers a variety of educational programs throughout the state. To find a program near you, go online for more information.

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