Make Everyday a Day of Play!

By Jennifer Bridge

 No matter the age, play is important in our life. Younger children burn energy, build muscle and keep fit for healthy growth when they play. As adults, we need to do the same not only for our physical health but for our mental health as well. The past few months have added extra stress to our lives and being active outdoors can help with depression, vitamin retention and overall attitude!

 This years’ summer solstice occurs on June 20, which is the longest day of the year. With all the talk of COVID-19 and some major changes in our living pattern, we thought it would be a great way to encourage play.

 So, the Longest Day of Play will be our feature Extension to Go program this week. On Thursday, June 18, beginning at 2pm at the extension pavilion, a drive by station will be set up for families to pick up an outdoor activity pack. The packets are being sponsored by the Meade County Family and Consumer Sciences program, the Meade County Extension Homemakers organization and UK Healthcare. There will be adult, as well as kid packs, so be sure to stop by.

 Playing outside doesn’t have to be expensive. So, slather on some sunscreen, grab a bottle of water and head outdoors! Need ideas on things to do? Read on!

 -Use a pillowcase or sturdy bag to have a sack race. Put both feet in the sack and trot to the finish line.

 -Make water balloon pinatas by filling balloons with water. Tie a long string on the end of the balloon, then hang on a tree branch. Use a broom handle to hit the pinata to get a little wet.

 -Water music. Collect different glass containers and fill them with different levels of water. Use a metal fork to lightly tap the outside of the containers to see what types of sound they make. See if you can tap out your favorite song. See if others can guess the song you are tapping.

 -Nature painting- Tired of using brushes and crayons to create art? Collect different types of objects from around the yard such as rocks, sticks, leaves, flowers or other natural objects. Dip the objects in paint, then press on to paper to create a new work of art.

 -Three-legged race. Grab a partner and using a scarf or tie, warp your legs together so you have “three legs.” See how fast you can run or challenge someone to race.

 -Water Balloon Baseball. Fill balloons with water and use them as baseballs or softballs. Have someone pitch them and try to hit them with a plastic bat or broom handle. For added exercise, run around the bases.

 -Outdoor Bowling. Grab some empty plastic bottles, fill them with a small amount of sand or rocks to add some stability then set them up like bowling pins. Use a ball (soccer, volley, basketball or softball) to roll toward the bottles trying to knock all of them over.

 -Sun art. Using dark paper and toys or objects, such as leaves or flowers, create new works of art. Simply place the objects on the paper to make a design, leave it in the sun for a couple of hours then remove the objects. The sun rays will draw out the pigment from the exposed paper leaving a design created by the objects.

 -Have a picnic. Take a blanket or towel outside and place it on the ground. Sit down and relax after a hard day of play and enjoy a snack, meal or just relax.

 You are never too old to play!

 Have an idea for an Extension Program to Go? Contact me at or call the extension office at 270-422-4958.

 Source: Jennifer Bridge, County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Meade County

Reference: Moyese, Kendra. (2015) 10 Backyard activities to do with children. Michigan State University. Retrieved from

 Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

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