Garden games: a perfect antidote to too much screen!

The brighter, warmer days of Summer are upon us (we hope!). The holidays are a great time to get kids outside, play and give their eyes a rest from the screen. I have learnt, sadly, that suggesting they come for a walk is not generally enough to drag my young people away from their devices. A garden game, however, with friends, family, pets, can have greater success at tempting them outside. Once they get playing the benefits are numerous! 

The benefits of garden games

Playing garden games is a great way for children to have fun, learn new skills and develop physically, socially and emotionally. If outdoor space is limited, set a playdate with friends in a local park. It’s worth prioritising because research shows that getting children to give up their devices for a little bit of outdoor fun comes with some serious benefits:

Physical Health: A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that playing outdoor games, such as tag and hide-and-seek, contributed to higher levels of physical activity in children. They saw improved cardiovascular health, a reduction in the risk of obesity and an increase in a child’s overall fitness.

Social Development: Children of all ages can build social skills such as cooperation, communication, and teamwork whilst playing garden games. 

Cognitive Development: The Journal of Experimental Child Psychology reports that many well-known garden games can improve children's cognitive skills such as problem-solving, spatial awareness, and hand-eye coordination.

Emotional Well-being: Playing garden games can also have a positive impact on children's emotional well-being. The Journal of Happiness Studies found that children who spend more time playing outside have higher levels of happiness and overall life satisfaction.

Nature Exposure: And of course we can’t ignore the numerous benefits of spending time in nature, reducing stress, improving mood, and increasing feelings of well-being.

10 Garden games to try this summer

Here are some tried and tested favourites and a few new ideas to give a go this holiday:

  1. Balloon Volleyball: Hang a rope or string across the garden and play a pain-free version of volleyball with a balloon. Score a point if you hit the balloon over the rope and the other person playing doesn’t get to it before it hits the ground. 

  2. Boule: Throw a small ball, a golf ball is ideal, on the lawn and take it in turns to roll other balls towards it. If you have a boule set perfect if not get creative with different balls you have around the house. Whoever gets closest to the golf ball is the winner.

  3. Capture the Flag: Perfect for playing when you’ve got a group of friends together. Split into two teams and give each team a flag or object to hide. The aim of the game is to capture the other team's flag without getting tagged.

  4. Bean Bag Toss: Create a target using a cardboard box or hula hoop and toss bean bags or balls and try and get them inside the box.

  5. Nature Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of natural items to find in the garden or park such as a feather, a leaf, a rock, etc., and race to see who can find everything on the list. If you’re in a park, set boundaries of where children can go so that they stay safe and in view.

  6. Sardines: A twist on hide-and-seek, in sardines, one person hides and the others try to find them. When someone finds the hider, they hide with them, and the game continues until everyone is hiding together.

  7. Garden sports day: Think of all your sports day favourites tug-of-war, three-legged-race, sack race, egg and spoon, relays etc. If you’ve got family and friends over why not make an actual event of it and get some friendly competition going on.

  8. Lawn Twister: Using spray paint, create a giant Twister board on the grass and call out different challenges for your family to complete.

  9. Duck, Duck, Goose: Sit in a circle with one person walking around the outside, tapping each player on the head and saying "duck" until they choose someone to tap and say "goose." The "goose" must then get up and chase the tapper around the circle, trying to tag them before they reach the empty spot in the circle.

  10. Water Balloon Toss: Fill up water balloons and in pairs, toss the balloons back and forth to each other without breaking them. A great way to start some water play that might result in a big water fight later!

For more ideas and support on how to balance screen time check out our free online resources. At Explore Learning, we’re proud to offer unrivalled support to parents and carers. You’re not alone navigating your child’s development; we’re here to help along the way. From advice on maths and English to fun ways to grow a child’s appetite for learning. Visit your local Explore Learning centre or have a chat with our friendly tutors online.

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