Family-Friendly Social Distancing Activities for Outdoors

With the rise of COVID-19 and the developing concerns surrounding it, many families and individuals are practicing social distancing. It’s no secret that this introduces a change to our daily schedules and routines. For many children and their parents, a consistent routine is everything. It reinforces structure, eases our mind, compartmentalizes time, and allows us to smoothly transition from one activity to another. With school closures, countless cancellations of events and extracurriculars, working from home, and socialization occurring through screens, these routines have been turned upside down and boredom and restlessness are bound to occur (leading to a few meltdowns, time outs, and messes of course).

The good news (yes, there’s good news!) is that social distancing does not require complete isolation indoors. Setting aside a few hours each day to spend outdoors, whether it be in your backyard or at a secluded park, can be one consistent and familiar part of your day – and it has a plethora of physical and mental health benefits. According to Harvard Health Publishing, studies show that American children spend a daily average of 6 hours with electronic media – time that is likely spent sitting indoors. However, when we venture outdoors, children are more than twice as active. In addition, outdoor play improves children’s attention spans, sensory skills, social skills, mood, and immunity, according to Sanford Health. In all, this adds up to healthiness and happiness – two things that can make a world of difference during this time. Convinced, but not sure where to start? Get inspired by this  list of social distancing-safe outdoor activities for you (and your children) to enjoy together:

woman exercising indoors
  • Outdoor yoga and mindfulness
    • You can find guided videos on YouTube for any age.
    • If you don’t have a yoga mat, laying down a blanket or a towel will work just fine.
  • Exercise routines
    • Find fun ways to move your body with various workouts online and on social media (no equipment required).
    • Zumba is a fun and upbeat option for both children and adults.
  • Build a fort with cardboard boxes
    • All you need is cardboard boxes, an exacto knife, duct tape, and markers or paint for them to decorate their new real estate.
    • Try creating your very own castle, school, house, or restaurant and play pretend – the possibilities are endless.
person showing green plant
  • Learn about the plants in your backyard
    • Try using this app to instantly identify almost any plant.
  • Backyard Bingo
    • Download printable boards like these or create your own!
  • Make bottle rockets
    • Personalize them with paint, markers, or stickers.
  • Tie-dye
    • If you don’t already have dyes and rubber bands at home, you can order an inexpensive tie-dye kit like this one on Amazon.
    • Tie-dye any white clothing item for a fresh look! You can even tie-dye a towel, blanket, or cotton tote bag.
    • Laying out garbage bags or newspapers to work on will make cleaning up a breeze.
bird perched on fence near flying bird and bird feeder during day
  • Make a bird feeder
    • For the crafters out there, you can create your own bird feeder together and hang it in your backyard.
    • Check out these examples for inspiration.
  • Water limbo
    • Turn on your hose and use the stream of water as the “stick.”
    • If you get wet, you’re eliminated!
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • If you have a fire pit, make s’mores
    • Go through your pantry and gather any ingredients to experiment with: nutella, peanut butter, honey, strawberry jam, potato chips, etc.
    • Have your kids come up with their own unique creation.
  • Watch an outdoor projector movie
    • Bring the movie theater to you!
    • There are inexpensive options for projectors to use with your phone or laptop. It’s a great way to enjoy your family’s favorite movies while getting some fresh air under the stars.
    • Break out the snacks and popcorn for this one!
  • Create your own “Olympics”
    • Feel free to get creative and resourceful with this!
    • For example, you can do a javelin toss with pool noodles, create your own obstacle course, have an egg race, play volleyball with a balloon, see who can make the farthest-sailing paper airplane, etc.
    • Go all out! Come up with your team name and mascot, create a flag out of an old white t-shirt or sheet, and keep track of your scores.
adult golden retriever taking a bath
  • If you have a dog, give them a spa day
    • Bathe and brush them.
    • If you’re looking to go the extra mile, you can even give your pup a pedicure with dog-friendly nail polish!
  • Backyard camping
    • Set up a tent in your backyard, bring out your sleeping bags and favorite foods.
    • Tell campfire stories.
    • Stargaze – there are plenty of apps that can identify constellations and teach you about them.
  • Have an outdoor karaoke concert
    • If you have a karaoke machine, great!
    • If not, you can use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone and find karaoke songs on Youtube.
    • You can play dress up and make it an all-out performance with costume, hair, makeup, choreographed dancing, and vocals.
  • Have a backyard picnic
    • Ask your kids to help you prepare the food and pack up a basket – need some inspiration? Try a few of these kid-friendly recipes.
    • Lay out blankets and comfy pillows in the grass.
    • Turn on your favorite playlist

However you choose to spend your time outside, get creative, let loose, and have fun together!