Guest blogger David Reeves shares how to encourage creativity through play outdoors.

Fostering creativity in children through outdoor play gets them away from computer games and into healthy pursuits where they learn to think, interact with other people and stay active. Unfortunately, many children have developed shorter attention spans due to digital communications, video games and social media obsessions. Mobile television broadcasts keep kids glued to their phones, and staying indoors too much could result in depression, withdrawal, stress and hyperactivity.

Statistics Support Healthy Outdoor Activity for Children

According the CDC, outdoor physical activities offer the following benefits for growing children:

  • Reduction of obesity and chronic diseases
  • Improved academic achievement
  • Better concentration and attentiveness
  • Healthier muscles and bones

A Children Nature Network study found that playing in natural settings helps kids become independent, interact with others and use natural resources in creative ways. Parents can stimulate creativity by arranging protected outdoor places where children can play safely and interact with nature.

Creative Outdoor Play that Parents Can Encourage

Parents can encourage health and mental benefits for developing children by creating an environment that supports creativity and expression. The following three ideas work well for most children:

  • Build or Buy Playhouses for Kids. Kids’ playhouses are blank canvases that children fill with their imaginations. They might choose to build a castle or magic dress-up box that they can stock with dolls, shoes, costumes and clothes. They can create their own time machine or furnish an armory with armor, soldiers and more. A kids’ playhouse can transform into a pirate ship, space vehicle or disco dance floor.
  • Create an Outdoor Studio or Clubhouse. A kids’ playhouse can serve as a haven for all types of outdoor adventures; it can be a naturalist retreat, hobby shop, flower shop, club house or art studio. Help to organize playhouses for kids by providing the basic tools, then turning things over to the children. Kids who develop hobbies or organize social clubs will quickly show initiative by adding their own improvements, collecting specimens and furnishing spaces with cool décor.
  • Spend Quality Time Playing Outdoors with Kids. Take time to interact with children by working or playing with them on projects — but give them some alone time to encourage the development of new ideas. You might stage a play of a favorite story, plan a garden outdoors or create a mini recreation and sports center where skateboards, sports equipment and bikes take active roles. Answer kids' questions with a question to get them thinking. Encourage children to describe their work, play and feelings to stimulate creativity.

Children's imaginations can soar into uncharted territories or become atrophied from disuse. You can guide your children and nurture creative thinking, or squash their self-expression by putting down their ideas or making them conform to preconceived standards of behavior. Encourage your children to play outdoors with safe role-playing and by centering activities around their artistic expression.


David Reeves is the Marketing Director of Superior Recreational Products (SRP) in Carrollton, GA. Grounds For Play, a division of SRP, focuses on designing play environments for specific age groups that provide challenging mental and physical exercises in a safe environment.

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