With the COVID-19 outbreak, most people are adhering to the CDC and WHO guidelines about social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus and help to flatten the curve. While social distancing means staying at home and limiting your trips to essentials only, it is still important to get outside for fresh air and exercise.
Most experts agree that going outside is safe if you take the proper precautions, so here is our guide to fun family activities to do outdoors while you are social distancing.
1. Go Hiking
Hiking is a wonderful way to explore nature and get some much-needed exercise at the same time. Choose a trail that is age-appropriate for your kids and bring snacks and provisions to prevent mid-trail meltdowns.
Don’t forget to maintain at least six feet between you and the next person on the trail and use hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands after touching handrails, signs, and other surfaces in the park.
2. Become an Astronomer
Stay up late and pull out the telescope for a little stargazing. A family astronomy trip makes an interesting change to daytime outdoor activities, and many places across the U.S. have certified Dark Sky Parks that give you the best view of the night sky.
You can download a stargazing app to pique the kids’ interest and build some astronomical knowledge before you head out or make a starwheel to help you identify constellations.
3. Do Yard Work
Staying at home offers an excellent opportunity to get things done around the house that generally get overlooked. So why not take care of some of those yard work projects you have been putting off and enlist the whole family for help?
Turn yard work into a fun game for the family by encouraging a little healthy competition. Time how fast the kids can rake the yard, or count how many worms they can find in the garden bed. It is also a great time to start a compost pile to minimize the waste in your home and teach the kids about the importance of sustainability.
4. Go Camping
If you live in a state that does not have a “shelter-in-place” protocol in effect, camping can be a great way to leave the world behind for a few days. It is also an excellent chance to teach your kids about bushcraft and essential wildlife survival skills, such as building a fire, constructing a shelter, and outdoor cooking.
There are a few precautions you should take while camping under quarantine. Choose an isolated campsite and opt for primitive amenities rather than a full hookup or shared bathrooms and showers.
If your local campgrounds are closed, pitch a tent in the backyard, roast some marshmallows, and share ghost stories to emulate the camping experience.
5. Ride Bikes in the Park
While children’s playgrounds should be avoided, biking around your local park can help your kids expend some of that extra energy they have from spending so much time indoors. Choose one of the hundreds of urban bike paths in your city, or get off the beaten track and experience nature in a whole new way on a family-friendly biking trail through your local state park.
6. Have a Picnic
When the weather is bright and sunny, take your lunch outdoors and enjoy a picnic. Get the kids involved in creating the menu and preparing the meals. There are age-appropriate kitchen tasks for every member of the family, from washing vegetables to cutting sandwiches. Choose a shady spot under a tree at your favorite park, or set up the blanket in your yard for a delicious al fresco meal.
7. Get Artistic
Heading outdoors is a wonderful opportunity to unleash your creativity while enjoying the fresh air. Grab your phone or digital camera and wander around your yard or local park, snapping pictures of the beautiful things you find along the way. Create photography challenges for the kids, such as only taking photographs of blue items, photographing the biggest animal, or snapping a shot of the most colorful bird or tree you can find.
You can also make the most of the sun’s natural light and try outdoor painting. Creating art outdoors lets the kids enjoy making a mess without the stress of a big cleanup. Paint the things you see around you, or just have fun splashing paint on paper.
Younger children can have fun creating art with sidewalk chalk on your driveway or in front of your home.
8. Go Fishing
Go fishing with the family to get some fresh air and bring home dinner. Taking your kids fishing has so many benefits beyond getting some exercise. Fishing teaches them about conservation and instills a love of nature, but it also is an essential survival skill.
Check with your local authorities about seasonal fishing regulations and obtain a fishing license before you head out on the water.
9. Have a Snowball Fight
Although spring is well on its way, many areas of the country are still experiencing snow. Make the most of the cool weather and head outdoors for a snowball fight. Make teams or just have a free-for-all. Build a snowman and let the kids decorate it with old clothes destined for the rag pile. Or, create a gorgeous winter mandala in the snow with stones and branches.
10. Search for Hidden Treasure
Create a scavenger hunt in your backyard. Hide items around your yard, and then make a checklist or a map and watch the kids squeal with joy as they run around searching for hidden treasures.
Geocaching takes treasure hunting to the next level. There are thousands of geocache locations across the country aimed at kids of all ages with all levels of orienteering skills. Encourage your kids to contribute something to the geocache and take along a nature journal to make a note of your observations along the way. Avoid crowded urban areas or potentially hazardous places such as abandoned buildings and stick to natural treasure trails.
While social distancing is an important measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19, it is also necessary for your health to get outdoors for some exercise. Try some of these fun and safe outdoor activities with the whole family during quarantine and follow the CDC guidelines for correct social distancing whenever you are outdoors.