Adventure! As a kid, you might have conjured up an imaginary friend to go adventuring with. Or
tied a knapsack on a stick and headed out one morning, never to return (until dinner time). Or
unfurled a map on the table and closed your eyes and plunked your finger down, and wherever
it landed, that’s where you were voyaging next. Childhood is a time of bursting imagination.
Playing outdoors teaches kids to think creatively and cooperate with others. One of the kindest
things you can do for your children is to ensure they have the opportunity to explore. The habits
that your children cultivate as little adventurers will encourage healthy lifestyle habits as they
As a parent, try to add to your routine activities that you can do together as a family. These can
include biking around the block, building a swing set or a treehouse, or playing board games like
Monopoly and Apples to Apples. Make up a song, go on a scavenger hunt, or refashion a
cardboard box into a time capsule with your kids. Considering all the time that kids watch TV in
the U.S., the shock of getting outdoors might be jarring to them at first. But children (and adults)
frequently discover that jumping in piles of leaves or throwing the Frisbee in the backyard is
often more rewarding than tapping an iPhone all day.
Try out another quintessential adventure: backyard camping. For this enterprise, you’ll need a
tent, pillows, firewood, a flashlight, a tarp (for ground cover), and sleeping bags for everyone.
You might even deepen your kids’ sense of exploring by hiking around a park or through the
trees separating your property from your neighbor’s. Capturing fireflies with mason jars and
gazing up at the stars and mapping out constellations with your kids is the type of fun they might
remember their whole lives.
Building a Bird Feeder
Another fun DIY project that you can do with your kids is to build a bird feeder. First, decide
what kind of bird feeder you’re interested in making. The options are more extensive than you
might think and include suet logs, paint can feeders, PVC pipe feeders, toilet paper roll feeders,
milk carton bird feeders, and more. Even if you’re not handy, the materials that you’ll need to
make these aren’t hard to procure. Get some glue, bird seed, milk cartons or popsicle sticks,
and a hook to hang it on a branch, and you’re good to go. Wondering what the point of all this
is? Then you’ve probably never heard a yellow-throated warbler sing in your yard or witnessed a
fleet of hummingbirds sip nectar from petunia baskets.
Going on a Treasure Hunt
One of best things you can do to encourage your kids’ sense of wonder is to send them on a
treasure hunt. Come up with a story that, depending on their age, will entice their imagination.
You’re searching for a princess, foraging through an imaginary wilderness, or solving the
mystery to a story you told them around the fire. And be sure to weave in clues. These might
involve using a compass, putting a message in a bottle (which you can write in invisible ink), or
cutting up those clues into a jigsaw that they have to find and fit back together. Whatever you
do, make sure that one clue leads to another, to keep the adventure going.
Want even more great family-friendly activities? Read through this list from Plexus.
Turning your backyard or a nearby playground into a landscape of feats, clues, and (fun) perils
is an invaluable gift for your children. Especially for little kids, it will deepen their sense of magic
and expand their imagination. Enjoy the silliness of it all, which helps switch on your kids’ sense
of curiosity and daring, which they can carry on with them their whole lives.