I have a son and 2 daughters and need some ideas of things they could do in their free time. Mostly, they need to get moving a bit, especially my son. They all love to read, thanks to Heart of Dakota! But, I am seeing that they need some extra physical activities or things to do together. I’m very careful with our homeschool family time and don’t add in organized sports, dance, or clubs. I try to encourage them to hang out together and enjoy our family time. We don’t have a bunch of friends close, so they don’t go play outside as much as I would like. We play at the park, and we try to do some family tennis, basketball, and swimming together. But, what other ideas might be fun or engaging to do outdoors?
“Please Share Some Free Time Ideas”
Dear “Please Share Some Free Time Ideas,”
I would be glad to share some free time ideas for outdoor activities! You must be a kindred spirit with Charlotte Mason, as she was a proponent of outdoor activities! First, I will share I require our boys to play outside daily after lunch for an hour. They split the time typically into two 30-minute segments. Since we have 4 boys, each gets to choose what to do for 30 minutes outdoors every other day. If you have three kiddos, you could do three 20-minute segments instead. Each child would then get to choose what to do for 20 minutes of the 60 minute recess.
Activities That Work Well with Limited Space at Home
Since we live in town, our boys have more limited space. We’ve found these activities work well under these conditions for most the seasons…
- scooter and bike around the cul-de-sac
- throw Ogo-discs in the backyard (which are similar to frisbees but float much easier)
- play badminton
- hit a tennis ball back and forth on the driveway
- play catch with the baseball
- play hotbox
- throw the football
- football two-hand touch mini-games
- mini-soccer games in our backyard
- nerf gun wars
- bump and set the volleyball around
- swim in our above ground pool in the summer with games they make up (this is just an inexpensive Intek pool they all can get in it and swim daily in the summer)
Other Outdoor Activities That Are Fun and Free
Additionally, we go to the park once a week with the cousins. In the summer, my husband also takes the older boys and cousins to the basketball courts. They play basketball at 6:30 or 7 in the morning before work or school begins. Otherwise, our boys do all their recesses right in our front or backyard. They’ve learned to be creative with their time and their space, as they realize this is something done daily. I also require them to be moving for recess. So, no one gets to spend recess just sitting around. In the winter, they build snow forts, have snowball fights, and slide on their sleds right in our yard. Our yard is flat, so sledding across the yard is truly hard work!!
Normal Routine Things Can Give Needed Fresh Air and Outdoor Exercise
As you can see, we do fairly normal things, yet the boys get needed outdoor fresh air and exercise daily. With my older sons being 22 and 19, it is easier now to have outdoor time. They can keep an eye on the other boys without me having to go outside with them daily. It is good for my older sons to get fresh air and exercise and to spend time with their brothers. My oldest chooses to keep up this daily “recess” time simply because he feels it is so good for him.
Solving Problems Gives the Opportunity to Teach Good Sportsmanship
Of course, there are issues and arguments that arise at recess, and my oldest son sorts many of them out. Sometimes my kiddos are hard-pressed about what to do at recess, and then I intervene and make some suggestions. We do have discussions about attitudes and rules, but I look at those moments as character-training and problem-solving moments. When I taught in the public school, we had recess issues and arguments daily. Learning good sportsmanship can be a definite challenge no matter when or how you try to learn it! However, the benefits of recess outweigh the challenges, as it is imperative for boys especially to run off energy daily.
Daughters Need Fresh Air and Outdoor Activities Too
Since you have daughters, I’ll share my sisters spent much time hitting a birdie back and forth with badminton racquets. We’d count how many hits we could get in a row before dropping the birdie. Bumping and setting a volleyball back and forth was also something we enjoyed. We loved to count the number of times we could hit it before it landed on the ground. Croquet was another favorite of ours. My dad also pounded a wooden beam into the ground horizontally on short wooden supports as a balance beam. It wasn’t very high off the ground, actually only 6 inches or so – maybe even less. We spent much time walking back and forth on it, trying tricks like handstands on it.
We spent a ton of time cartwheeling, doing round-offs, and practicing handstands. My sisters and I also had hula-hoops that we actually practiced enough to get pretty good at using. My younger sister, Julie, could spin it around her knees and even her ankles for long periods of time! We used to count how many rotations we made before the hula hoop landed on the ground. Then, we’d try to beat our own personal best number. It seems we counted everything!! Anyway, just a few ideas to get you thinking of possibilities. In fact, this thread has gotten me thinking of some new ways to spice up our outdoor play. I think I may be looking for a bocce ball or croquet set now too.