Meet your family’s need for Movement outdoors – for free!
Written by Louise Harris, Children & Young People’s Lead
The summer holidays are upon us, and six weeks can feel like a long time to fill with activities, particularly if you are being extra careful with spending this year.
Allowing extra time on screens can be one solution, but whilst it can help with a sense of Community online, it can also leave your child or young person feeling frustrated, grumpy, lethargic, and less able to sleep.
Sleep allows us to rest and reset, and to feel more able to cope with the challenges of the next day. Getting a good night’s sleep starts with our bodies, and moving our body lots during the day gives us endorphins, which help us to feel good. It also burns off the stress hormone, cortisol, which can make us even grumpier!
This summer, find time to turn off screens and get outside in Suffolk to help you and your family feel better, sleep better, and feel more connected!
Here are six free places to meet your family’s need for Movement outdoors
In the garden, or open spaces
Invent an obstacle course, either with props or by making a route around the space. Time each other on your phone and improve your personal best. Invite a friend to play a ball game, or invent a new movement game of your own! Maybe you could design a dance, bike or wheelchair course or stretching and movement sequence or practice keepy-uppy tricks. There are some more ideas on our activity cards, which are free to download.
At the beach
Plan a trip to your local beach – either at the seaside or by the river. Before you leave, design a scavenger hunt, or download our free Scavenger Hunt for the Senses template. Think about what you might find along the way. This could be a textures scavenger hunt, i.e. finding something smooth, fluffy, bumpy – or things with different colours. For older children and young people, photograph things along the way and put them into a grid to create a piece of artwork that could be posted to your social media to encourage others to do the same.
In the forest
One of my children’s favourite things to do is to go on a balancing walk along a log or on stepping stones, followed by some tree climbing. We climb trees and sometimes find an unusual place to have our healthy snack and drink! Sometimes this is in the branches of a tree, sometimes at the top of a climbing frame, or sometimes hidden in a leafy space underneath the trees!
At the park
Revisit some of the childhood games that you used to play and teach the children! Our favourite is ‘Colour touch’. Try to catch each other and shout out a colour on the climbing equipment that everyone has to touch to be safe. Or you could try playing ‘123 Home’ – a game of hide and seek with an added challenge of trying to get ‘home’ to the safe place before being caught!
On the street, or at the shops
As you are walking outside look for the next thing coming up and ask the children to find it. ‘Can you find the post-box?’ or ‘Can you run up to the lamppost?’ You can also do this in shops. ‘I wonder if you can find the oranges?’, for example. You could also follow St Elizabeth Hospice’s Big Hoot trail around Ipswich, finding the painted owls. Click here for more details of the trail.
Walk, travel or ride along to find free events in your community this summer with lots of activities for children and young people to do! Suffolk Mind will be at some of them, so if you spot us come and say hello and get more information about Sleep, how Movement can help us to feel calm, as well as breathing techniques with our Suffolk Mind dragon, Tanneen.
Learn more about our Emotional Needs & Resources here.