17 Ways to GTFO right now — and safely

Mar 31, 2020

Please remember: Don’t go out if you or your kids have or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, if you’re in self isolation due to direct contact with someone who has COVID-19 or you’ve recently been out of the country or region. It's important that we all follow the directions given by our municipal, provincial and federal leaders as we all work together to stop the spread. 

The playgrounds are closed.

In-person playdates are off the table.

Life in the time of COVID-19 has dramatically shifted how we live our lives — right now, we're being advised to only leave our homes when absolutely necessary and if we practice physical distancing.

And that messaging is being repeated ad nauseum for good reason. We all have to do our part.

But I'm also reading how we should still get outside, if we can do it safely. So, how does that work if you have kids? 

If you’re like me, you’ve made a schedule to manage the days — here's a good starting point if you want to make your own. Mine includes some screen time, some educational time now that the schools are closed and a very general block called “outside time.”

My kids, probably like yours, have so much energy. And before COVID-19, they would burn all that energy going outside several times a day. And now? Well, I think we're all being extra creative right now.

The Safest Option is Close to Home

The safest way to get outside is a backyard or front porch. If you don’t have a backyard, but you do have access to open outdoor space where you’ll be able to maintain a two-metre distance from others, I've compiled a list of some ways to play and exercise. All with the added benefit of getting some air and sunlight!

Proceed with caution and keep your kids from touching things. When you get back inside, wash your hands! I'm sure most of us are handwashing experts by now with dry skin, but I thought it might bear repeating.

Neighbourhood Walks

All over the country, kids are putting things in their windows to share with the neighbourhood. It encourages us all to go on walks to explore and see what we can find. Usually organized in local Facebook groups, a map is sometimes provided to encourage exploration. In Toronto, we’ve gone on an Art Walk to see all kinds of masterpieces. We’ve read stories about teddy bear hunts in the east coast. And in Saskatchewan, kids have displayed hearts in their windows to share love and positive vibes with their neighbours (here’s how you can make cool hearts of your own). Why not organize a neighbourhood walk in your area?

Pokemon Go

Who remembers Pokemon Go? This alternate reality game came out in 2016 and still is a great way for kids to run around outside without touching anything. Check out our guide to Pokemon Go here.


Geocaching is still going strong after 20 years! Instead of looking for a physical cache, go for a hike to a more isolated place and look for Virtual Cache or an EarthCache. Or you can become a Cache builder and make your own! Need an introduction to geocaching? You got it!

Scavenger Hunts 

We’ve had this spring scavenger hunt on CBC Parents since 2016 and it’s by far the most popular of our scavenger hunts. If you decide to give it a try, please share your photos and tag us on our social platforms! We’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Here’s another version, this one involves collecting materials:

Check out the instructions here.

If you’ve still got lots of snow, this scavenger hunt might be more useful:

For full details and the printable, click here.

Nature Craft: DIY Forest Mobile

This lovely craft from Daisy and the Gumboot Kids involves gathering materials from nature and easily assembling them outdoors. Or use your outdoor time to forage for materials and build it inside! Check out how to make it here.

Still winter? Paint the Snow

If you’ve still got snow, it might be looking kind of sad and be in need of some brightening. Bring a little more colour to nature and a smile to your face — find out how, here.

Great for small spaces: Loose Parts Play

This one is real simple and has the potential to be a big time suck. Just put a bunch of stuff out and let your kids play. Find an isolated spot — back deck? safe balcony? — and just put some pieces out and let the kids do the rest. This post provides some suggestions for items to include in this open-ended play.

Bike, scooter and roller blade

If you can find a big empty paved lot or an unused trail, get out on your bikes or scooters! And getting your gear ready for spring is also a good activity. Fourteen must-dos for kids during cycling season here. Remember: you still need to keep distance on a bike or scooter!

Outdoor Expedition with a Field Journal

This is a lovely way to make going for a hike seem more exciting to kids who are resistant to such activities. Bonus? Writing or drawing in a field journal can be part of your educational or literacy time. Find out how to make a DIY field journal here.

Bird Watching

Spring is always a nice time to get kids involved in bird watching. You could even create a scavenger hunt or checklist of birds that are common in your area. New to bird watching? Read more about it here.

30-Day Photography Challenge

This is a nice one for older kids. It’s essentially a list of prompts to encourage daily activity, which is probably something a lot of parents need right now. Start a 30-day photograph challenge any time — here’s how.

Back to Basics

Thanks to social media, we’ve got a great resource for activity ideas: our friends!

Here are more activities we’ve seen kids doing while social distancing:

  • Hopscotch
  • Hide and seek
  • Chalk drawing on the sidewalks or driveways for our neighbours
  • Hula hoops

If you’ve got any other great (and safe) outdoor activity suggestions, comment below!

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