February is here and we know what that means in Chicagoland – snow days and outdoor fun! While there are many reasons to encourage your children to spend time outdoors, one very important reason is that it helps protect the health of their vision. Studies show that children who spend time playing outdoors in the sunshine experience less myopia progression than those who stay indoors. Experiencing the outdoor 3-dimensional space is also a very good way to reduce eye strain and visual fatigue caused by near work and time spent on devices. Not to mention, it promotes overall health and wellbeing in your kids.
We’ve compiled 5 fun outdoor activities to try with your kids today!
Bundle up the kids in warm layers and have them:
Build a snowman
Enjoy a snowball fight
Paint the snow with some food coloring or watercolors
Make a snow maze
Build an igloo
Build snow castles (the same way you would sand castles)
Make snow angels
Collect snowflakes during a snow flurry and study their beautiful shapes
Kids love playing with and popping bubbles. If temperatures are low enough, they might freeze in mid air! They’ll get a kick out of watching them freeze and possibly catching or popping them.
To make your own bubble solution, mix 1 part water with 4 parts dish soap and a few drops of light corn syrup. It’s best to try this activity when winds are calm, as harsh breezes can cause the bubbles to pop before they freeze.
Once the bubbles have landed on a surface and are completely frozen, they are beautiful to photograph — which can be part 2 of this activity.
Sledding is a classic winter activity that your child will love.
But before you hit the slopes (or hills), be sure to follow these safety guidelines:
Choose a sled that can be steered and can brake
Wear a helmet
Dress warmly, but be careful as the scarf can get caught under the sled
Children 5 years old and under should sled with an adult
A winter scavenger hunt is a wonderful way to explore nature with all of your senses. Before you head out, make a list of things to see, smell, listen for, and feel. Ask your child to check each item off the list.
Here is a list to get your young explorers started:
Leaf with holes
Signs of a woodpecker
Brightly colored bird (like a Cardinal or a Bluejay)
Take your camera along and let your child take pictures of what they find.
This activity is an unconventional twist on building a bird-feeder and perfect for those who live near a forest. The idea is to make edible ornaments and hang them on a tree (or potted plant in your garden) for wildlife to feed on during the winter.
Your ornaments can be made using various seeds, peanut butter, dried fruit, and popcorn. It’s best to use biodegradable materials to hang your ornaments, and don’t use fishing lines, as birds can get caught in it.
There is increasing evidence that children who spend extra time daily playing outdoors have a reduced risk of developing myopia; and if they already have myopia, time spent outdoors could slow down the worsening of this condition, also known as myopia progression.
These findings are significant, as having myopia significantly increases a child’s risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases later in life. Moderate to high levels of myopia make a child more susceptible to developing cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, and glaucoma later in life.
Treehouse Eyes at Clarendon Vision Development Center in Westmont, IL battle childhood myopia by providing myopia management to nearsighted children. Our myopia management treatments can effectively slow down your child’s myopia progression and reduce their future risk of eye disease.
If your child has myopia, or if you need your first consultation, contact us today to schedule a myopia eye exam at (630) 323-7300.
Photo credit: Ethan Hu on Unsplash.