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Americans by and large, in most areas of the country, are tamping down impatience and following stay-at-home guidelines in the wake of COVID-19. But as spring weather begins to take hold, so does the impulse to get outdoors and enjoy it.

The answer, said California psychologist Dr. Heather Coakley, is to get your share of sunshine and fresh air while maintaining your social distance.

“Families can picnic in their own backyard, on their patios, even on the rooftop of their apartment building if it is equipped for that purpose,” Coakley said. “And a walk around their neighborhood can provide more than just fresh air, as long as you keep your distance from neighbors.”

Nature enthusiasts and recreation directors suggest a few age-appropriate outdoor activities for families eager to be outdoors:

  • Ride your bikes. Plan a route, put on your helmet, get on your bikes and go. For families and for solo peddlers, bicycle riding provides more than good exercise. It offers a sense of running free even as you safeguard your health.
  • Do a nature walk. Take the kids out with a stack of paper and some crayons or colored pencils. Place an interesting leaf on a hard surface. Put a sheet of paper on it and rub over it with the crayon or colored pencil on its side until the veined pattern appears. 
  • Do a nature study. As you walk, have the kids identify ‘things that grow,’ ‘things that fly’ or ‘things that crawl.’ When you get home, ask the kids to draw at least three of the things they identified.
  • Make nature bracelets. Take a wide piece of masking tape or duct tape, and wrap it around everyone’s wrists, sticky side out. That creates a sticky base onto which you can attach things you find as you walk. It’s amazing how many cool things you’ll find.
  • Take a night walk. In the absence of commuter traffic, the skies are exceptionally clear. See how many constellations you can find and identify in the night sky.

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