Earlier this year, my wife and I wanted to plan an outdoor birthday party for our four-year-old. We decided to organize it at our local beach, Petrie Island, in Ottawa.
We contacted Friends of Petrie Island, an organization responsible for educating the public about the importance of nature, preservation, and ecology. It also helps organize birthday parties—guests learn and play outside on the trails and beach.
Nature trails and crafts
Our daughter’s party started with a 15-minute guided nature walk on the Turtle Trail. The trail is surrounded by a few ponds where we could see turtles basking on logs. The 10 toddlers and their parents enjoyed the walk and learning about the local flora and fauna.
Afterward, it was craft time. The guides had the kids painting a turtle’s shell on a rock, improving their fine motor skills. I strongly believe that the more time children spend in nature, the healthier they’ll become. I always find kids smile and move more when they’re outside.
Barefoot on the beach
After lunch, we gave the children their loot bags. This year, we decided to fill them with sand toys. Once they received their buckets and shovels, they took off their sandals and headed towards the beach. Amazed by the small waves, the kids were excited to dip their feet in the water. They also started digging and creating sandcastles with their new toys. I was happy to see my daughter running, socializing with her friends, and laughing.
Related read: 21 fun and active games for kids to play on the beach
The more time children spend outside, the healthier they’ll become. Young children automatically start creating games, running, and jumping when they’re outside. You’ll often see them in a deep squat looking at insects. Without knowing it, they are improving their fundamental movement skills such as walking, running, skipping, jumping, throwing, and catching.
Playing with your child outside is a great way to develop their physical literacy—and hosting an active birthday party on the beach is a fun, social option.
David Benay has been a teacher and personal trainer since 2006. He has over 20 years of experience working with children as a camp counsellor, sports coach, personal trainer, and teacher. His Bike Across Canada Project in the Classroom is one of seven 2015-2016 winners of the CEA Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.