After record snowfalls and bitter cold, spring is beginning to show its colors. Purple crocuses pop up from brown dirt. The gray sky lifts, revealing white clouds and a blue expanse. The sun shines bright, casting shadows of budding trees.
The one color parents don't want to see? The shade of their living room walls, which has grown drab and tired after a winter stuck inside. It's almost hard to believe: the calendar finally reads "April." It's time to enjoy the season of new beginnings and head outdoors.
These activities are a breath of fresh air (literally) that will get the family moving. Plus, you can spring each activity forward into the summer to keep your kids active.
Adventure Hike: "What animals are awake now," an inquisitive toddler might ask from the confines of the stroller. Rather than giving the answer, let your child find the answer. Head out to a family-friendly trail in your area and go for a hike. Kids can wander off the beaten path and look for scurrying squirrels, nesting birds and crawling bugs. Older children can bring along a clipboard and jot down notes about what they see. For the younger set, bring a bingo chart of animals and have them color in the animals they see.
Spring Forward: Keep your children's logs and have them complete the activity again in the summer. They can compare their notes and see how the great outdoors has changed.
Bike Course: Turn a spring cleaning project into a fun spin around the driveway (or the nearest open parking lot). Cones, wood scraps and pieces of plywood can be used to create a riding course for bike riders of all ages. Mark the route with sidewalk chalk and challenge their agility. Just don't forget the helmet and pads!
Spring Forward: Challenge the kids to come up with their own bike course and let them work on building it over the summer.
Neighborhood Dash: Summer nights are punctuated by the shrieks of neighborhood children. But why wait for the hot nights of July? Organize the kids on the block for a friendly 100-meter dash, with heats based on age. To get ready for the race, they can draw a start line and finish line with sidewalk chalk as well as write encouraging messages along the course. Parents can create a race environment by offering bananas and water at the finish line. The dash will be a great way for the neighborhood kids to get reacquainted after a winter stuck indoors.
Spring Forward: Want to challenge your kid's competitive side? Write down their time for the dash and see if they can run it faster over the summer. The neighborhood can host an end of the season bash and hand out medals to the most improved.