You might name sky diving, trekking to Macchu Picchu, or swimming with sharks. But let’s not keep all that bucket list excitement for ourselves, let’s share it with our kids! Allowing kids to write and maintain their own bucket lists can not only encourage a sense of excitement to get outside and explore the world, but also foster a sense of accomplishment. That confidence boost after checking an item off will keep them wanting more!
Start by letting them come up with a few on their own, and then mom, dad, or even grandparents can offer a little help. Remember, our toddlers aren’t going to be climbing Kilimanjaro, so keep it simple and fun. And in case you get stumped, here are few you can suggest.
- Camp Outside
- Find a Constellation
- Hike to Top of a Mountain
- Build a Sand Castle
- Sled Down a Hill
- Catch a Fish
- Ride a Horse
- Fly a Kite
- Build a Fort
☑️ Camp Outside
You don’t have to take a week off of work and reserve a campsite at Yosemite to help them check this one off their list. Start with a simple backyard campout! Let them help set up a tent and arrange a place to sleep. Supervise as they build a small campfire and of course, don’t forget the s’mores! Not only will they be forced to unplug from electronics, but they’ll come away with better appreciation for all that they have.
☑️ Find a Constellation
We don’t usually think to take our kids outside after dark, but nighttime can provide an array of interesting lessons and activities. Make sure it’s a clear night and you’re far enough away from any sources of heavy light pollution. Have your kids lay down on a blanket and look up into the night sky. On a good night they’ll be able to see stars, planets, satellites, the moon, and even the Milky Way! You might also tell them about programs like the Dark Skies Initiative and invite them to ask questions.
Link: The Night Sky
☑️ Hike to the Top of a Mountain
Let’s be honest, we really mean a “hill,” but to them it’ll feel like a mountain! Be sure to dress them in comfy clothes and hiking shoes and take plenty of water. This can also be a great activity for them to practice how to enjoy the great outdoors but Leave No Trace. Make sure they pack out all trash, leave what they find, and always respect the land and the wildlife! And finally, encourage them stop at the top to admire the view, and bask in their sense of accomplishment!
☑️ Build a Sand Castle
Head down to the beach for a great opportunity to hone your kids’ gross and fine motor skills. Building sand castles encourages this development in a creative and fun way! Kids will love getting dirty and parents will love seeing their imagination and personality come out. And remember, it doesn’t have to be an actual “castle”, a sea turtle or even a shell can be fun. And after they’ve created their masterpiece, they’ll find it equally as exciting to destroy it! Can’t get to the beach? No worries, bring the sand to them! There are plenty of sand box options and even multi-colored sand so your kids don’t have to miss out on this classic outdoor activity.
Mom hack: baby powder works wonders for getting sand off those little toes!
☑️ Sled Down a Hill
The first snowfall of the year can get even the most serious Scrooge excited about winter. Try ramping up the adventure level from snow angels and snowmen by bundling up the kids and sending them barreling down a hill! Obviously there’s a bit more danger involved, but with adult supervision and a few safety precautions in place, your kids will have a blast! There is no shortage of sleds to experiment with from the traditional single-person trash-can lid type, to the multi-person snow tube or even the traditional toboggan. Just remember, feet first and avoid trees! Get out and make Clark Griswold proud!
☑️ Catch a Fish
They may not be able to reel in a monster marlin or kicking king salmon, but even the littlest bluegill or crappie can provide a first time fisherman with a real fight! Be sure to skip the lures and hook them up with some live bait. Earthworms can be irresistible to even the most stubborn pond residents. Now just sit back and wait for the excitement when they see that bobber sink beneath the surface! Then all you need to decide is whether to catch and release, or cook and eat their catch! Once they’ve mastered the spincast, don’t be afraid to introduce them to fly-fishing, its never too early!
☑️ Ride a Horse
Riding a horse for the first time can be a little intimidating for kids. So go for a pony or a miniature horse to start them on! If you’ve got a friend or family member with one, great! But there are also a lot of stables that offer lessons for the littles. It’ll improve balance and coordination, and they’ll get way more than just physical exercise. Not only does riding a horse teach responsibility and boosts self-confidence, it fosters a healthy respect for animals and the natural environment. So giddy up partner and lead those kids out onto the trail!
☑️ Fly a Kite
Next time the wind picks up, grab that kite and head outside with the kids. But don’t buy the most expensive one you can find! Inevitably a gale force wind gust will come and provide a great lesson on kinetic energy, and how duct tape can be used to fix literally anything! Improving gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination will be important benefits. You can also encourage their creativity by having them make their own kite! You never know, you might have a future architectural engineer or designer on your hands!
☑️ Build a Fort
Whose kid hasn’t stolen every blanket in the house to build a fort? Next time, tell them to take that same ingenuity outside! Just about any materials can be used to make a structure, so let them experiment. You’ll be surprised at what they come up with! Afterwards, they’ll have a head start on practicing for shelter building during a survival scenario. Just be careful, they may be so proud of their creation that they want Mom or Dad to spend the night out in the elements with them to fully appreciate their skills!