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Outdoor Activities for Kids: How Can City Kids Play Outside Safely?

As parents living in major cities, we’re often faced with a very big dilemma. While we all want our kids to be happy, healthy, and well-rounded individuals – which means giving them the freedom and the opportunity to spend time outdoors – it can be nerve wracking to let them loose in a potentially dangerous city.

Research by Surf excel’s Kids Today project, which worked closely with kids to discover what modern life is really like for them, revealed that while kids love to explore and play, we as parents can do more to make cities feel safe for them. As this video made using documentary footage of real kids proves, the city can be an exciting (and scary) place for kids.

Outdoor games for kids shouldn’t only be possible when your family has a garden or lives outside the city. Luckily, while urban areas can be risky, there is much more of a focus on safety now than there was when we were children, and staying safe is something that many schools are including on their curriculum.

Today, we’re seeing safety advice and information popping up everywhere, and our kids are a great deal more street smart than we were at their age. Local governments are even beginning to tailor their safety campaigns specifically to appeal to the younger generation. For example, during the recent 2014 National Road Safety Week, when the Bangalore City Traffic Police encouraged children to tap into their inner artist and create posters and signs emphasising the importance of road safety in India’s cities.  

Outdoor Activities for Kids

For kids, outdoor games are something they just can’t say no to, especially when they’ve been in school all week. It’s just so good to get out and about and enjoy the fresh air! But it’s also important that we as parents find fun games to play outside that won’t put our kids in danger. Using your imagination and thinking outside of the box will be key – but here are some excellent outdoor activities for children to get you started:  

Finding Safe Play Areas for Kids’ Outdoor Games

If the thought of your child being out roaming the streets fills you with dread, try to find some safe, enclosed play areas local to you. Many cities have safe places for kids to play games with their friends, or climb on apparatus, and we’re starting to see even more facilities introduced for city kids. Kilikili, for example, is a Bangalore-based kids’ trust that aims to provide safe and welcoming play facilities for kids living in cities.

Founded by parents of disabled children who found previous play areas to be too open and exposed to allow for the safety of their kids, Kilikili has become a leader in providing safe yet fun spaces for kids of all ages, and the trust has even been recognised by Unicef for their involvement in transforming the lives of city dwellers.

Nature Exploration and Unstructured Play

It’s important to remember that good outdoor games for children don’t need to be structured. In fact, unstructured play has shown to be equally, if not more beneficial for a child’s physical and emotional development. Green spaces, however small, are relatively common occurrences in big cities, as trees and plants can help with air pollution, so it’s well worth making use of these amenities.

While you can take your kids to the park and play sports games, you can also just encourage them to run around, explore different flowers and wildlife, and learn more about nature. A park visit combines two very important aspects of outdoor city play: it allows kids freedom, while still keeping them within eyesight.

City Kids’ Outdoor Games: The Treasure Hunt!

While the outdoor games we’ve already looked at focus on transforming small sections of the city into rural safe havens, there’s no reason why we can’t encourage our kids to embrace their home city. There are advantages to being right in the heart of the action, one of which is the exciting and exhilarating games that kids out in the suburbs can’t play as easily –such as treasure hunts. Write a number of clues on some paper, each of which takes your kids to a new location. Stick with them to ensure they’re on the right track, but don’t offer too much help.

They’ll love twisting and turning down the city streets, and learning more about where they live. As a special treat, make sure the last clue takes them somewhere extra-fun ­–winding up at their favourite cafe to grab an ice cream is a wonderful way to end the day!   City living doesn’t have to be dangerous, and there’s no reason for us to keep our kids cooped up in the house during evenings and weekends.

With a combination of safety education and outdoor games for kids that minimise risk, we can help our children learn the joy of the great outdoors. If you’re looking for more inspiration for outdoor activities that you can do with your little ones, Surf excel has lots of great ideas – why not try Capture the Flag or Leapfrog?  

Do you and your family live in, or near to, a major city? Do you worry every time your kids leave the house? Share your thoughts and advice with us, and see how other parents are keeping their kids safe outdoors by reading their inspirational tips below!