National Play Outside Day takes place the first Saturday of May each year and is a celebration that encourages children and families to spend time outdoors and engage in nature. Bijou was developed to draw children and families outdoors to experience nature. Our goal was to create something that you wanted to be in and thus, to get outside.
Finland is the world’s happiest country. It is also 75 per cent forest. Finns value nature and it’s impact on their every day well being. Time outside is seen as a requirement for their happiness.
Research shows that extended exposure to trees can lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone), reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system.
According to the EPA, the average American spends 93% of his or her time indoors. YIKES!
Spending time outside has the biggest benefits for children. Their little brains are downloading at a crazy speed and when they are outdoors, they are the most stimulated and regulated. Benefits include, improving their physical health, mental well-being, and overall development. Children who play outside are more resilient to stress and anxiety. Also, being in nature has been shown to boost creativity, cognitive function, and attention span.
There are so many fun activities that families can do to celebrate National Play Outside Day. Here are some we do here in Bijou Land.
Go for a walk: Find a local trail and spend the day exploring nature. Take in the sights and sounds of the outdoors and use the opportunity to teach your children about the plants and animals in your area.
It’s about the journey, not the destination here. Just being in nature. Close your eyes, listen to the sounds around you, run your hand over some tree bark, breath through your nose and see what you smell.
We set up one of our Bijous at the end of our trail, in a little spot of trees. It’s a perfect destination and feels very secluded.
Really use your senses in a way that we are not able to in our everyday, indoor work/ school life.
The Japanese call this practice Shirin-Yoku, roughly translated into Forest Bathing. Check out our previous blog all the benefits of trees
Have a picnic: Pack a picnic lunch and head to a local park or beach. Our 6year old loves having a picnic with anything really. She just loves the ritual of it and the novelty of sitting down with a blanket outdoors. Bring a frisbee or simply relax and enjoy the scenery. Year round, we make sure to keep a frisbee and a hammock in the back of our car, just in case we have the opportunity relax outdoors.
The Hover platform is a great picnic spot because it’s off the ground, so no ants, no damp and super comfy. Because of the solar lights, it’s also a great place to hang out in the evenings.
Play outdoor games: Set up a game of soccer, basketball, or tag in your backyard or a nearby field. Get everyone moving and laughing together. Our Bijou Mainstay crawl through panel works great as a soccer goal.
Create art in nature: Use natural materials like leaves, sticks, and stones to create beautiful art pieces.
We recently started using corn starch, water and food coloring to make paint chalk art. Big paint brushes and as big a canvas as you can find (sidewalk/ driveway). The ability to mix colors and really ‘paint’ with chalk has allowed us to create some pretty epic sidewalk artwork. We use muffin tins which are a great size for mixing and making a batch for each child so they don’t mix in each other’s colors.
We use the panels of our Bijou to paint on. It’s easy to spray off with a hose if you use washable paint. We recommend using a big paintbrush to really get abstract.
Plant a garden: Start a small garden in your backyard or on your balcony. Teach your children about gardening and how plants grow and enjoy the fruits of your labor together. Our 4 year olds favorite part of gardening is the preparation when he can dig for all the worms his little heart desires. Last year, he had handfuls upon handfuls.
Get your hands dirty and really feel the dirt. Playing in the dirt is proven to reduce anxiety so get everything you can out of your garden. Gardens are great for improving physical health and mental health. Look for a Bijou living wall coming next year to take advantage of vertical gardening.
National Play Outside Day is our way of reminding ourselves to experience what is all around us. Bijou is committed to getting more families outdoors and creating moments to connect with nature and our children.