Quotes

Encouraging Outdoor Play in November

Yesterday a friend and nature-minded mama asked me “How we can encourage outdoor play during this transition season before the beauty and built-in activity of the snow arrives.”

November is a tough month. It’s not quite Winter yet, but it’s certainly cold out! We’re not sure how warmly to dress or what we can do outside that would be fun. The Fall leaves that dazzled and called us out in October are gone, leaving everything looking dead outside. Oh, and it’s dark by five o’clock! That doesn’t leave much time after school to get kids outside in daylight.

Another reason we’re more likely to stay in this time of year is the preoccupation with Thanksgiving and the flurry of tasks associated with it like cleaning and decorating the house.

It’s a challenge to motivate myself and my kids to enjoy the outdoors this time of year. I have found a few things that work to encourage us that mostly involve bringing nature indoors.

I look for ideas and activities to link our surrounding natural environments to what we’re already doing this time of year. An obvious one is feeding the birds.

Telling my kids, “We’re going outside to collect pinecones to make bird-feeders!” is more likely to get them excited than telling them, “You have to go outside!”

The girls cover pinecones they collected on a walk in honey and roll them in bird-seed.
The girls cover pinecones they collected on a walk in honey and roll them in bird-seed.
Eleanor sticks seeds into an apple.
Eleanor sticks seeds into an apple.

We hang our homemade bird-feeders outside a window where the kids can watch them eat.
This is a simple way to connect with the natural world from our (warm) home.

Another fun activity is to again go walking and collect various natural objects like pine boughs, pinecones, acorns, and twigs to make wreaths or decorative center-pieces for the holiday table. Even if you don’t have a woods to go searching in, you can likely find pinecones and sticks just walking in a city park or preserve. The idea is to look for inspiration from the natural environments all around you. They are there!

Making a center piece with found objects on the forest floor.
Making a center piece with found objects on the forest floor.

A project we are trying this year is growing amaryllis flowers for Christmas. This one doesn’t involve getting outside, but it does bring some nature into our lives and that’s important too!

Bought this kit for $4 at the hardware store.
Bought this kit for $4 at the hardware store.
Amaryllis growing station.
Amaryllis growing station.

The craft projects are fun and there are a million of them on-line. Go see what inspires you to get outside or bring the outdoors in.

If the projects are not your thing, try inviting other families out to play with you. There is strength and motivation in numbers! Meet on the playground Saturday morning or after-school armed with a thermos of hot chocolate. And bundle up!

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