Afterschool Express: Outside Play

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a total of 60 minutes of unstructured, outdoor play for kids everyday.

The benefits are numerous. So the question becomes - Are you kids getting this?  It doesn't matter if your kids attend public, private, or home schools.  Grade school children need to be outside too.  At our household, we have made it a priory for our kids to have outdoor playtime every day.  We have almost hit the halfway point to the school year.  Grades will be given for excelling in math and reading.  No grades will be given for outdoor play, but in my opinion, it is just as, if not more important for our children.
I was lucky, because both my husband and I grew up in families with the same belief.  Yes, I admit we do not have sub-zero temperatures here, but I have lived in much colder places.  We grew up sledding, cross country skiing, ice skating, ice fishing and more.  In fact, when we visit with the kids, my friends from up North comment that my kids spend more time outside in one week than their kids do all month.  Cold is not an excuse (Dangerously cold is!)
Unstructured play means that we just let our kids be.  They play.  They create.  They use their creativity.  Although we do many activities outside, like gardening and painting, I am working harder at not providing them with how to play, rather just encouraging it!.  Our natural playscape area has helped.  A recent addition of this (not very pretty, but usable and inspired by this post) and the kids went to work weaving - I didn't say that was what it was for, but I was sure hoping they would use it!!!
This week, we averaged a minimum of 2 hours outside every day.  We had picnics, read outside, mud painted, weaved and just played.  EVERY DAY!   It sure made our week go by so much better.  The kids were asking how many books they could bring outside.  They were not arguing over which toy to use rather working together to build and create things out of strings and wood.  Not to mention the added benefit that fresh air brings at bedtime - no fussing, just straight to the Land of Nod.

I know that I am not alone on preaching the importance of playing outside... Just look around the web at some amazing families and blogs.
Just Playin Around's kids are outside too!
And What We Do All Day is playing outside too!

See - it is not just the American Society of Pediatrics and me urging you to spend time outside with your children, it is also your fellow parents and bloggers.  There is truly so much value in outside play.
I hope you were able not to just "sneak" some outdoor free play into your learning week - but embrace the outdoors - no matter what the weather.  If not - maybe it can be your next weeks goal!!!


  1. What lucky kids you have!!! I still struggle with getting the kids out in colder weather (and yesterday it was TOO cold!) But I'm getting better, and - like you - I see HUGE benefits!!!

  2. We love playing outdoors, and I just love seeing more and more bloggers encouraging unstructured play! One of the big benefits I notice is that when my daughter gets a lot of outdoor play time she falls asleep at night so easily. ;)

  3. Thanks for adding our link! We love outside play :-)

  4. I admit that I struggle with outdoor time in the winter (I grew up in the south and I'm a wimp!), but I am also of the position that outdoor play is VERY important, so increasing outdoor time is a goal of mine. Right now we are almost all unstructured play, but we will soon be adding weekly nature walks/ in a way, our kids will be graded on outdoor time. :D


  5. I love the times we spend most of the day outside. The day goes by far more smoothly and we both enjoy ourselves more. I love this post. Spread the awareness! Thank you for sharing :)

  6. True we love to be outside! Even in winter.

  7. YEAH all my outdoor play loving parents =) I woke up this morning to all these wonderful comments and it truely made my day! What a gift we are all giving our kids!!!! While some of you struggle with winter, we have a hard time getting our 2 hours in the summer when it gets 100+ degrees.
    Brittney - I love your idea of grading outdoor nature walks. Even if it was as simple as keeping a log of what your did and completing or not completing the time outside. That way you could tie in writing too!

  8. Great round up. We struggle sometimes to find time for outside during a week, but we make a point to be out and about every weekend.

  9. Our goal for the new year is to play outside every day {weather permitted}. We have been loving it...and even going outside when I used to say no {such as rainy days}.

    I'd love for you to link up any outdoor play posts to my outdoor play link party:

    1. Thanks for creating this Outdoor Play link... just pinned it too for others to join. Can't wait to see our little ones outside and playing!

  10. Wonderful post! I totally agree with everything. Lovely photos too.


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