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19 Lake Activities for Everyone - National Play Outside Day

This holiday has to be one of my favorites. Not only does it promote activity, but activity outside!

History of Play Outside Day

This initiative began in 2011 by Aaron Wiggans and Rhonda D. Abeyta after a discussion with friends on how children had become so preoccupied with their digital devices that going outside to wasn't seen as fun anymore. This world is full of distractions, especially digital ones; iPhones, iPads, TV, Virtual Reality, Playstation, Xbox, and social media platforms all provide kids in the digital era with "better" hobbies. With all of these distractions Wiggans and Abeyta were concerned about how the increased screen time was affecting children's physical and mental wellbeing. That's when they had the idea to celebrate National Play Outside Day on the first Saturday of every month.

National Play Outside Day is an initiative to not only encourage people to get active and outdoors to boost mental health, strengthen immunity, muscles and bones but to encourage people to let go of their fears and (in a safe/monitored environment) let their kids play freely. According to SGB Media, a mere 30% of all kids in America play outside, which is a stark contrast to the number of kids who played outside even 30 years ago. While the digital era is of partial blame for the declining numbers, things like highly pressurized, busy adult lifestyles have left many feeling cautious about allowing their children to play outside. By planning ahead and discussing preferred activities with your kids you can plan fun, adventurous activities your family is sure to enjoy. Ranging from hiking to swimming, biking to playing catch, flag football to karate in the park-the options are endless and the exciting thing is that with the changing seasons you'll be able to change up your activities accordingly. When it snows have a snowball fight and build snowmen, when the leaves fall rake the leaves in a big pile for your kids to play in, when it's hot and sunny go to the lake and build sand castles after a vigorous time swimming.

Lake Activities for Everyone

  1. Swimming at the lake or local pool. I suggest #lakemcconaughy, but I may be a little biased. Not only is swimming a great life skill for the kiddos, but it's a great way for them to burn off all that energy while getting some great exercise and soaking up the sun and all the benefits of being outdoors.

  2. Build a Sand Castle. Every year at Lake McConaughy there is an event held on the beaches known as Kites and Castles. It's an amazing opportunity to get the kids (or adults) involved in a fun, creative, textured, competitive activity. The great thing about this activity is your children's imagination get to run wild and they can bring anything they want to life by having a more hands on opportunity with their creativity.

  3. Go on a walk along the beach. Let the kids run ahead of you, within a safe distance, and give them a chance to find cool rocks or sea shells.

  4. Play games. Games in the sand such as: volleyball, soccer, lawn tennis, horseshoes, cornhole, frisbee golf, mini golf, limbo, beach bowling, spike ball, waterproof playing cards, ladder toss, and bocce ball.

  5. How low can you go? As much as the kids love games, they love games in the sand where they can get messy without getting trouble for it. Have your kids see how deep of a hole they can dig and when they've dug as far as they can, see if an adult can fit in the hole or see how long it takes to fill the hole with water. (Side note: Please remember to fill any holes you dig in the sand when you're done playing for the safety of other people using the beach and driving the beach).

  6. Beach Treasure Hunt. Provide each child (or adult) with a list, written or a list with pictures, and a bucket in which they can collect their treasures. They can hunt for driftwood, shells, rocks, something round, something oddly colored, a feather, a bird, a cloud shaped like a fish, literally anything you want and the kids will love it.

  7. School on the beach. Not only is the beach a great way to tire the kiddos and get them outdoors, but it's a great opportunity to incorporate their education into their activities. This is a great method for children who may have a hard time focusing or sitting still. Using a stick or their finger have your child write their name in the sand or some site words. Or, using materials gathered from nature, create a picture or collage with them. You can bring the items home with you to assemble the collage or you can assemble it at the beach and leave it there for passerby's to admire.

  8. Bubble Blowing. What child doesn't enjoy blowing bubbles and trying to pop them before they disappear? And if the bubble juice spills on their swimsuits, good news, they're right next to the lake and can easily rinse off.

  9. Parachute Games. Now I'm not going to lie, I have never played this game, but when I came across it in my research, it sounded so fun. Therefore, I'm definitely adding it to my arsenal of beach games. With this game, you'll need a large beach towel and a beach ball. Hold the ends and sides of the towel with the ball in the middle of the towel, and see how high that ball can bounce.

  10. Sand Hopscotch. This activity is one of my favorites simply because it's a few activities in one. You'll need to have the kiddos gather some rocks, you can use a stick to draw out the grid but gathering rocks will help occupy the children.

  11. Tug of war. Using a rope or towels tied together, stand at the water's edge. Divide the group into two teams and make sure the middle of the rope is right over a line drawn in the sand. Hand the ends of the rope to each team and show them how to pull. Be prepare to end up in the water.

  12. Fly a kite. Even if there isn't a lot of wind, kids can run with kites and have a great time watching them fly behind them. Kites can be purchased in toy stores, dollar store, or your kiddos can make them before your beach trip.

  13. Water bucket relay. No matter the activity, kids love competition and racing. At the beach a great race, besides the one to the water when you first arrive, is with a water bucket relay. Give each child a plastic cup, bucket, or spoon and have them run to the water, fill their carrying implement, and race to empty it in a bucket.

  14. Exercise. Use the opportunity of being outdoors to exercise in a new environment and different way.

  15. Sand hand prints. This is a great way to make memories with the kiddos. Once a year make it a point to get their hand print made in the sand and they'll love every minute of it.

  16. Take family photos. Use the beautiful scenery as a backdrop for your family's pictures.

  17. Turn a friend into a mermaid. Dig a small hole big enough to fit the lower half of your friends body and then cover their legs with sand and shape into a mermaid tail.

  18. Play beach themed charades.

  19. Play tic tac toe in the sand. Using rocks and sticks, draw or mark the grid in some way and begin a competitive game of tic tac toe.


Sources + Inspiration





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