There is plenty of evidence to show that spending too much time indoors and being deprived of the natural world negatively impacts our well-being and health, and can even lead to increased anxiety and depression. One study showed that being in a natural environment enhanced vitality by up to 40%, whereas being indoors had the opposite effect.

It’s no wonder then, that many people tend to gravitate towards being outdoors. But how can you share the joy of being outdoors with children? How can we teach them to nurture their connection to the world around them, when urban life constantly tempts us with gadgets and screens? Here are five brilliant family-friendly tips for encouraging a love of being outdoors.

Indulge in their fantasies

Nature is a playground bursting with endless opportunities to create, imagine and invent. Playing outdoors allows children to let their imagination run wild; trees become castles, muddy hills become volcanos or slides, even a humble stick can become a magical wand. Allowing yourself to simply play with children in the wonderlands they create is nothing short of beautiful, with massive benefits to everyones’ health and happiness. Try using fallen branches to build a den, or go paddling in a stream to make fond memories together whilst also furthering their development.

Make nature art together

A great way to bring the joy of nature indoors is to take a walk collecting leaves, acorns, twigs and other non-toxic items. You can glue them onto paper as an art collage, dip them in paint and experiment using them to print different shapes, create a garland or a wreath to hang on the door, or anything else you can think of! Mixing the elements of nature with artistic creativity is a lot of fun and will surely leave the kids keen to go exploring outside again soon.

Search for wildlife

If  you are lucky enough to live near a nature reserve or nature trail, these are great fun for children and adults alike. Many will have clues and questions along the way, which the kids have to hunt the answers for, making it a brilliant educational experience too. If you can’t find a premade trail near you, why not make your own? Take a notebook as you stroll through a woodland, forest or even down a path and make a list together of all the creatures the children spot. This opens an opportunity for children to learn about lifecycles, diet and habitats, and you can always enhance their learning experience with a little research on the computer once you’re back inside too.

Grow a garden

If you have green fingers, then you may be keen to share the excitement of nurturing plants to maturity with your children. But for those of us who struggle with gardening, it is still well worth giving it a try as a shared family project. Giving children the responsibility of caring for a plant is sure to encourage a love for the great outdoors. Lots of vegetables can be grown relatively easily, even in an urban setting, with the use of buckets or deep troughs which won’t take up much space. Imagine how proud the children will be when you serve up their own home-grown carrots and potatoes for dinner!

However you choose to enjoy being outdoors with your children, have fun connecting with nature and most importantly, with each other.