Outdoor play: seven top tips to get kids outside

Children climbing among mossy logs
Get outdoors and explore! (Photo: Julie Howden/WTML)

Being in the open air and engaging with nature has so many benefits for kids. Adventurous play outdoors builds strong bodies, develops their imagination, creativity, and problem solving skills, and teaches them to assess risk. It also helps them grow up understanding the importance of the natural world.

Of course, these days there are so many other things competing for their time and attention, especially their screens. So we’ve put together some tips to help you persuade your kids to swap screen time for green time.

Repackage the walk

Going for a walk can sound a bit dull to kids. Heading out on an adventure or expedition, going animal tracking or setting off on a scavenger hunt sounds a lot more intriguing!

Find an exciting new outdoor play space

Girl playing on an adventure playground in the woods
Have a go on an adventure playground (Photo: Julie Howden/WTML)

A stimulating environment helps little people use their imagination and create their own games.

An ancient woodland with secret glades to discover, fallen tree trunks to clamber on, streams to cross on stepping stones and rope swings left by other families is just the ticket. Some of our woods also have adventure and play trails designed for kids. Find a wood near you that’s a perfect playground.

Try geocaching

Track down hidden treasures using a GPS smartphone app. Get screen-loving kids to go online and find out about caches that are hidden in your area before planning your outing.

Pack a picnic

All that running around is bound work up an appetite so some snacks will go down a treat. Check out our recipes and tips and winter picnic ideas.

Go wildlife watching

Girl looking through binoculars in the woods
Don't forget your trusty binoculars! (Photo: Jill Jennings/WTML)

Kids are enthralled by little creatures.

Why not go on a minibeast hunt armed with our creepy crawly iDial, or bird spotting with our wild birds iDial?

Children of all ages will love joining in - especially if you turn it into a game or challenge. Why not see which of your Nature Detectives can find the most woodlice, slugs or blackbirds? You could even turn it into a game of I-spy or hide and seek!

Be prepared

Getting cold and wet is a sure way to put kids off playing outside. If the weather’s looking iffy make sure you take your rain gear and wellies, and pack a change of socks and gloves in case they get soaked.

Make a habit of it

We all know kids like routine so make sure that scheduled time outside is a regular part of family life and get them involved in planning where they’ll go and what they’ll do.

Become Nature Detectives or family members

If you’re looking for fresh new outdoor play ideas, become Nature Detectives or family members of the Woodland Trust.

Nature Detectives will get a new activity pack that’s bursting with exciting seasonal fun four times a year, and if you become family members, grown-ups get a handy directory of our woods, as well as biannual copies of our two in-house magazines.

There are loads more ideas for things to do outside in our activities section. And don’t forget to share your top tips for enticing kids into the outdoors in the comments below, or by using #NatureDetectives.

Share your outdoor play tips

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