By Nicole Leuci Gilmer
Play is an essential aspect of every child’s growth and development, and when able to be enjoyed in an outdoor setting, the benefits are multiplied! From releasing excess pent-up energy, to building on their balance and motor skills, there are countless benefits for children of all ages who spend more time playing outdoors compared to indoors.
When it comes to playtime, most parents and adults think of indoor play as a safe and comfortable environment for their children. However, outdoor play provides numerous benefits that cannot be found inside the home or classroom, such as the physical health benefits from fresh air, creative play opportunities, establishing a connection with nature, along with other various improved cognitive abilities.
Take advantage of warmer weather and longer days through Blue Block outdoor play this season! Whether you have one child to entertain, or a whole camp of ‘em, check out these ideas to incorporate your favorite foam blocks into your outdoor summer activities!
Set up a Blue Block racecourse, full of obstacles that participants must climb over, crawl under, jump on, or run through! Use a couple of Blocks and a Noodle to create hurdles, a tunnel to crawl through, or “weights” to be lifted. Have a section of the course be “the ground is lava,” where participants must jump from one Block to another, or construct a balance beam, to safely cross. Create an intricate running path, using the Blocks as obstacles they must run around.
Utilize your Blue Blocks to build soccer or field hockey goals for an activity that can involve large groups of children at one time! Constructing the goals out of Blocks can add a fun twist to the game by creating rules like the goal does not count if the Blocks are knocked over or you get extra points for knocking over the goal.
Use the Blue Blocks for a life-size, lightweight, and safe version of Jumbo Jenga! Stack the Primary Blocks, Blocks with Holes, and Channel Straight Blocks to create a nice, even stack of Blocks for your participants to take turns trying to remove one without knocking down the entire tower!
Strategic Teambuilding and Elimination Activities:
Large group games can be a bit chaotic to organize, but put a fun twist to classic team games, and all can be easily entertained! Working towards a common goal can bring any group together, so break out your Blue Blocks and bring a unique variation to these popular team games!
- Capture the Flag is a true strategic team activity that allows members to play into their personal strengths. Split your Big Blue Blocks between the two teams to be used as barriers to hide behind or to build a structure to protect their flag!
- Use the Big Blue Blocks in an age-old classic game of dodgeball or incorporate into a Nerf war! Hide from flying balls and rubber bullets behind Blue Block stacks, or use your favorite Blue Block as a shield from the incoming missiles.
The Floor is Lava:
A timeless classic enjoyed by children all around the world! Use chalk or tape to have dedicated start and end zones and split your group into teams to work together to cross the “lava” ground! Give each group a stack of Blue Blocks to use as their “safe steps” as they work together to make it across without falling in! The first team that successfully gets all members across the finish line without falling in wins!
Pro Tip: Is your summer camp themed? Easily customize the details of this activity to match! Instead of lava, the ground can be the ocean, outer space, or a cliff’s gorge!
For a limited-screentime summer, try to encourage outdoor play as often as the weather will allow! Playing in the fresh air is a primary developmental experience for children that is, unfortunately, gradually becoming viewed as less and less vital in this age of technology. Reports have found that teenagers who spent more time outdoors during their childhood in comparison to their peers have a stronger sense of self-awareness, independence, and are often happier overall.
In this digital age, it is all about encouraging moderation. Screentime is not inherently bad and can even allow for social connection and unique learning experiences. Limiting the amount of time your young ones spend with a device is important in teaching them to prioritize their time and build their self-control. Take time to explain and converse about the benefits of fresh air, play, and hands-on collaborating when working to limit screen exposure this summer break.
We hope these screen-free activity ideas can be helpful not just for summertime, but for year-round outdoor play! If you have any questions about loose-part play, Imagination Playground, or any of the Blue Block sets, please feel free to reach out to one of our dedicated Play Professionals at any time. Until then, continue to BUILD ON!