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MonJan 1

National Play Outside Day – January 1, 2024

National Play Outside Day, which is celebrated on the first Saturday of every month, on January 1 next, gives us the chance to switch off from the virtual world and to explore the great outdoors at least once a month. In the age of the internet, we are constantly being bombarded with information left, right, and center. Going outdoors to simply breathe is a rejuvenating break in and of itself. Moreover, we have the opportunity to let our imaginations run free using the natural elements around us instead of being stimulated by the online world. National Play Outside Day is great, especially for kids who the day is geared towards. Get your kids up and going because the outside world is beckoning!

History of National Play Outside Day

National Play Outside Day was started in 2011 by Aaron Wiggans and Rhonda D. Abeyta. They’d discussed with friends how children had become so preoccupied with their digital devices that going outside to play wasn’t seen as fun anymore. From games, TV shows, and movies, to social media platforms, the digital era provided kids with “better” hobbies. Wiggans and Abeyta were concerned about the effects that the increased screen time was having on children’s physical and mental wellbeing. That’s when they had the idea to celebrate National Play Outside Day on the first Saturday of every month. The day aimed to highlight the importance of playing outside and how it could benefit those who did it regularly. Apart from delivering a mental boost, it also helps to strengthen immunity, muscles, and bones. Gather your friends, have picnics with your family, become a kid again with the young ones and play games, there is so much to do!

A mere 30% of all kids in America play outside — a stark contrast to the number of kids who would have played outside even 30 years ago. While we do have the digital era to blame for the declining numbers, things like the news media and highly pressurized, busy adult lifestyles have left many feeling cautious about allowing their children to play outside. National Play Outside Day encourages people to let go of their fears and, in a safe/monitored environment, let their kids play freely. You can plan ahead by discussing preferred activities with your kids. It could be hiking, swimming, biking, playing catch and throw, or a number of other things. What is exciting is that the changing seasonal patterns will prompt you and your kids to take part in new activities each month.

It is challenging for parents to limit screen time for their children and cultivate good playing habits. The best way to have children leave phones and gaming consoles behind is by letting them unplug and use their imaginations outdoors. The more time kids spend playing outside, the more healthy, independent, and observant they’ll become. Being in nature stimulates the mind and allows us to use our senses to the max without any distractions.

Play Outside Day is a broad concept that is not limited to children or playtime. The idea is to just get out of the house, which perhaps is a bigger issue among adults. With technology taking over our personal and social domains, and with the ease offered by technology which make going outside redundant, Vitamin D deficiencies, joint problems, mental exhaustion, and more are becoming increasingly prevalent. The day is a great way for adults to bond with their family and relax with the soothing effects of nature.

National Play Outside Day timeline


American cities become densely populated, limiting access for playing outdoors. 

First Sand Garden in America

After being inspired by German children playing in sand piles, America introduces the first ‘sand garden’ for little children to play in.

Playground Association of America

The Playground Association of America, which helps to build and support outside recreational activities, is formed.

Outdoor Learning

The outdoors is seen as the perfect place for children to learn new, great things.

National Play Outside Day

Aaron Wiggans and Rhonda D. Abeyta plan and celebrate the first National Play Outside Day.

Scientific Reports

Studies conclude that spending a minimum of 120 minutes a week outdoors is great for health and one’s well-being.

National Play Outside Day FAQs

When is national play outside day?

National Play Outside Day is on the first of every month. 

What is national play outside?

National Play Outside Day is an opportunity for everyone to take time out from their busy routines and have some good clean fun outdoors. 

What is the best way to play outside?

There’s no hard and fast rule on the ‘best’ way to play outside. The most important thing is to have fun. Here are some activities that you could do: play hide-and-seek, catch-throw, and tag, fly a kite, or learn about nature by exploring the outdoors.

National Play Outside Day Activities

  1. Do your own thing

    Go and explore the outside world. According to your local area, this could be a hiking trail or going for a run in the park. If you or your kid’s idea of fun is just ‘being’ outdoors and doing nothing but taking in nature, then that’s okay too.

  2. Plan with your kids for more fun

    Get the kids excited by planning activities with them. Make them feel important and heard by asking them what they would like to do. The more involved they are, the more excited they will be, and the more fun they will have.

  3. Go on trips

    A great way to utilize the first Saturday of every month is to plan short trips. These trips could range from having a barbeque up in the mountains or spending time in nature by enjoying a little picnic by the beach or lake. The great thing is that you will still have the Sunday to laze around and recover if the trip was an energetic one.

5 Benefits Of Playing Outside You Need To Know Right Now

  1. Better motor skills

    When children are outside, they are running, crawling, jumping, and catching/throwing, all of which work to improve and better their motor skills.

  2. Better body mass index numbers

    Children who play outside are less likely to develop obesity as they are constantly using their energy to stay active whilst playing.

  3. Sunlight improves one’s mood

    Having a balanced exposure to sunlight can help kids with boosting their overall mood and immune systems.

  4. Social development

    Kids interacting with other kids allows for the development of social skills, which will come in handy in the future.

  5. Great sensory skills

    Playing outside engages all of one’s senses, from taste, touch, and smell, to hearing and vision.

Why We Love National Play Outside Day

  1. It’s a celebration of nature

    Playing outside provides unique fun and enjoyment. You are enjoying nature to the fullest, taking in the sky, the earth, the water, and the air, as well as the beautiful creatures that are thriving. It’s a great learning environment, which allows you to appreciate our planet more.

  2. There are many health benefits

    There’s nothing better than having a healthy body and mind, and playing outside can help children achieve that. Physical exercise in the shape of running, catch/throw, and jumping will aid children in refining their motor skills as they strengthen their overall body. Their mental health will improve thanks to the stimulation taking place in the natural environment.

  3. It promotes social/emotional development

    One of the most important skills in life is to be able to have social and emotional intelligence when dealing with others. The playground develops these skills immensely. Children build social skills through interacting with their playmates.

National Play Outside Day dates

2021November 6Saturday
2021December 4Saturday
2022January 1Saturday
2022February 5Saturday
2022March 5Saturday
2022April 2Saturday
2022May 7Saturday

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