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It’s been perfect weather conditions every weekend thus far and with Canada Day just around the corner, it’s a prime opportunity to set up an activity day for the children and yourself!
Maybe you’ve already forgotten how to have a fun day outside, so we’ve got you covered. Let’s get our children creating some fantastic adventures and memories, while learning and exploring in the great outdoors.
Step one – choose your perfect spot. Whether the local park or the most popular gathering destinations, you’ll want to know how long you’ll be on the road for – especially with the traffic picking back up!
We prefer parks that aren’t too densely forested with flat and open spaces to move around. The key is to avoid any tripping and falling hazards as well as having relatively clean and uncluttered areas to eat, rest, and relax.
Additionally, pick a “campsite” that has good shade for your coolers and allow people to get the chance to hide from Mr. Sunshine once in awhile.
This is where we remind you to make sure you’ve got everything in the car. Have some extra containers to carry your non-food stuff as well – empty boxes work just as well!
Now don’t leave home without:
1. Two or more coolers depending on the size of your party.
We like to separate our beverages from perishable and cold foods at the minimum. Since frequent opening of a cooler will let the cool air out, keep one for frequently used items like beverages.
Keep your cooler about 25% ice and 75% food - as full as possible because a full cooler will stay colder longer. Place ice packs along the sides of the cooler and across the whole bottom. Then put the heaviest and most perishable foods on the ice and round out with lighter things. If food doesn’t completely fill a cooler, simply add more ice.
Chairs or no chairs, we recommend bringing along a large picnic blanket and/or outdoor play mat so you can spread out when dining and have an area to lay down.
It’s going to double as a table and the most important spot of your activity day.
Keep important items and toys on the blanket or mat to ensure they stay clean and easy to locate.
We prefer to bring our own household dinnerware. Not only to be environmentally friendly, but it reduces the hassle of having to store half-used paper and plastic plates, cups, and utensils at home.
Extra condiment packets from fast-food restaurants are super ideal for easy outdoor meals.
Yup, this gets it own sections. There’s going to be spills and messes – so bring more than what you think is necessary.
This is what the children have come here for! Leave intricate toys with many different parts and smaller pieces as home.
What’s more of a classic than catch, kicking a ball, and playing tag!?
Since it may possibly be a new environment for your child, games like “I Spy” can really get them thinking.
Make it a playdate – the more the merrier.
Sunblock, hand sanitizer, and insect repellent.
Simple first aid kit – safety first everyone.
7. Plastic and garbage bags.
Put dirty dishes, dinnerware, and silverware together to easily bring them home.
Designate a space for your trash when you arrive to your site. Have bags for garbage and recyclable, so it’s easy to clean up and move at the end of the activity day.
We know all the dads are just itching to test out their newest Father’s Day chef equipment or trying to impress the entire park with their cooking chops, but today’s not about that!
Here’s what not to bring:
Unfinished or uncooked foods to complete at location
Cooking equipment – it’s not a barbeque
Mayo or ice cream products – they’ll spoil, turn or melt everywhere
Try to place your cold foods and beverages directly from the fridge into your coolers. You also don’t need special trays to serve food, just use the original mixing or cooking vessel.
On a hot summer day, enjoy some cold sandwiches, chilled salads and icy drinks. We try to avoid extremely saucy or running foods, but you can still bring meats. However, make sure you finish hot foods as soon as possible and within 2 hours of being cooked. For treats, we love fruits and popsicles – especially freezies!
Put and emphasis on social – emotional and physical play when outside. This is an amazing chance to build on teamwork and cooperation. With all these new experiences, we want children to have their imaginations run wild and actualize them in creative ways.
Seeing that we’re outdoors, word association is a great way to have your child see their toys come to life. Games such as “First Orchard” by HABA , will have them sharing fruits, identifying the trees around them with the ones in the game, and maybe even spot a real bird or two. Don’t worry they won’t try to win the game!
It’s also a great way to be active without worrying about things breaking around the house. They can’t be teeing up for 18 holes indoors, but when they’re on an activity day, they can play with something like the “Mini Golf Set” by PlanToys all day. Parents can really see their children setting up a goal – having the golf ball drop in the hole – to help build concentration, while benefiting coordination and gross motor skill growth.
Being outdoors can really get your inner child’s Bob the Builder spirit going. There are many toy blocks that are stackable and definitely buildable. Get your child experimenting and attempting to recreate things they see in nature. Better yet, let them soak up the great outdoors by creating their own impromptu structures. Summer really is the essence of what childhood memories are made of.
Even though children may have played with their wooden figures or toy cars & trains a thousand times, they’re still constantly searching for new ideas to play with their toys all over again. When you bring your child into a new environment on an activity day, they will view it as a whole new way to play with their cherished favourite toys. Specifically, when it comes to pretend play, old methods of play become entirely novel experiences. For example, cooking and kitchen play can become a restaurant or cookout play, cars at the indoor home track can become a boats at the beach, indoor wooden figures are now outdoor wooden figures, and “My First Camera” by PlanToys will have them going from home vlogger to travel vlogger 📷.
When you’re little ones have had a great time, it can be difficult to bring that energy back down for the journey home. We tend to spend some time settling down as the activity day comes to a close.
If your child is used to picking up after themselves and putting their toys away, they’ll recognize a common pattern that playtime is over. Have them work through their normal routines for cleaning up so that they can anticipate what will happen next.
For the adults, it’s time to pack up and help keep the “campsite” pristine and back to nature. Make sure you’ve got all your items – in fact go over our checklist in reverse 😂.
You’re going to have a fun and exciting activity day, full of happy and lasting memories, and it won’t be the last one this summer. Make it a regular part of growing up with your youngsters!