25 Aug 2017
Updated October 2022
Playing outside is a chance to discover what matters. Put away the gadgets and reconnect your kids with the great outdoors!
The benefits of turning play inside out are endless. Being outside gives young minds an appreciation for the wider world and creates memories that last a lifetime.
Next time you’re on holiday and the children are wondering what to do, consider some of our favourite nature play ideas that won’t cost a thing! Just remember there are no rules, only to let their imaginations run wild...
1. COUNTING DOWN TO SUNSET!
It’s getting dark, time to go inside right?
No way! It’s time to watch the sun disappear over the water - or the hills - or wherever you might be! Can you guess how long it will take?
Investigate: Hey, why does the sun only set in the west? And how come it only rises over those hills? Does anyone know? Set your kids some holiday homework!
2. PREPARE THEIR FIRST CAMP COOKOUT
Once you’ve built your tent and made a fire, it’s time to cook some dinner!
Marshmallows and Hot Chocolate are great for sweets, but what about main course? Sausages and potatoes? Fresh fish and vegetables? Let your kids decide!
Why not help them to prepare their first camp cookout? Decide on a menu and let them go to work.
Simple menu suggestions:
1. Wrap a potato in foil and roast it in hot coals. Add some butter and watch it melt then flavour with some salt.
2. For a dessert kids love, do the same with a peeled banana only this time add some chocolate squares. Once it's softened and the chocolate has melted, this treat is ready to eat!
3. WHO'S AFRAID OF THE DARK?
Do your kids like the dark?
It can be scary but the best thing about night time in the great outdoors is all of the amazing creatures that come out to play. Possums, bats and owls are all most active at night - not to mention a million stars!
How many animals can you spot? What constellations can you identify? Grab a torch and take your junior explorers out for a possum prowl. Be sure to check the tops of trees first and work your way down from there.
Got a phone? Download the Starwalk App and explore the deep night sky!
4. BEAT THE SUN: WATCH A BUSH SUNRISE
It might be early but there’s nothing like experiencing a sunrise in the bush with your family.
Before you set the alarm, make it a mission the day before to discover the best spot to see a sunrise. Choose the river’s edge or the top of a gorge, but don’t forget to take a torch because you will start off in the dark!
Top Tip: Pack a picnic breakfast and treat your family for being up before the sun.
5. YOU ‘CAIRN’ DO IT! PICK YOUR PATH THROUGH THE FOREST
Did you know? A pile of stones is called a ‘cairn.’
Found all over the world, these simple piles of rock are used to show explorers where they are and to navigate the bush.
Encourage your kids to build their own around the camp site, marking out how to get to the pool, the playground or what about the camp kitchen? Once they’re done, walk around the park and commend them on their skills.
6. WHAT'S THAT CALLED?
Because so many Discovery Holiday Parks are close to nature, you’re never far from all manner of wildlife and native Australian species.
Take a walk around with your kids and choose your five favourite plants or animals. If you are allowed to, pick off a leaf to take home and learn more. Otherwise, take a picture or do a drawing of each one. Use this to start an ‘animal album’ or ‘plant diary’ your kids will look back on in years to come.
7. RAISE YOUR VOICES. OUTSIDE IS HUGE!
Don’t laugh, but it’s easy to forget that children love using their voices!
On your next holiday, find somewhere up high and give your kids permission to yell their hearts out. Aside from their favourite show tunes and whatever classroom jingle they’ve been singing, why not teach them a good old fashioned ‘cooee!’
Depending on how high and where you are, watch your kids' faces as they discover how sound can travel in more than one direction!
8. PLAY YOUR OWN GAME
Hide & Seek or Tag are great fun, but doesn’t it feel like the rules are always the same?
Encourage your kids to make their one rules and create some objectives of their own. Get them to form teams and give them the run of the park!
At Discovery Parks, they can always take advantage of some pretty awesome ‘getaway cars.’
9. KICK IT TO ME!
When there’s water involved and the sun is shining, there’s nothing that gets kids tired more than a good old end to end!
Sure this is about them, but at the end of the day - especially on holiday -tired out kids means an extra bit of down time for you!
Just let the kids choose their weapon and the rules of the game, whether it's a sopping wet tennis ball, flying frisbee or bouncy football, there’s hours of fun just waiting to be had.
10. A STONE'S THROW AWAY
Who doesn’t love a family skipping competition? Especially one that requires no rope!
Simply pick a body of water - the beach, a lake or a pond will do - get the kids to collect some rocks, preferably flat and smooth. Then allow a few trials to build up the tension, and the first annual family stone skimming competition is ready to go!
How many skips can you count? Is it a team or individual game? You decide, it’s your holiday - and your family - but be sure to put something on the line. Ice Cream for Dinner or Fish and Chips - hang on, it’s only a friendly game!
11. THE ABC'S OF THE BUSH
Taking your kids for a bushwalk on holiday is a rite of passage that shouldn’t be denied.
Whether it’s a national park you've travelled to, or somewhere closer to home, reach out to your local rangers and enquire about guided tours. Then, arm your children with an A to Z nature book and challenge them to fill it up!
Not only will they be out in the fresh air, they’ll be learning something too.
Looking for your next family holiday destination?