When your child’s main interaction with nature consists of playing Angry Birds, you know you have a problem!
“Spending time outside is kids’ one chance to be kids and explore, without any kind of restrictions or limitations on their creativity or what they do,” says Debi Huang, writer and creator of Go Explore Nature.
It can seem hard to tear kids away from their gadgets, but Alyssa Ross says that getting children outside doesn’t have to be difficult. Ross, the communications coordinator for KaBOOM thinks that “It is our responsibility as parents to open the door. Take the first step in getting them outside and from there kids will explore on their own and find out what they like doing.”
Playing outside also has numerous health benefits. Plus, “If kids aren’t spending time outside, they are never going to develop a connection to nature and never going to grow up as adults to appreciate it and want to protect it,” shares Lindsay Legendre, of the Be Out There movement by the National Wildlife Federation
So now you know why kids should play outdoors. What about how to get them there? Here are 12 fun activities children will enjoy.
1) Visit KaBOOM’s Map of Play
This interactive map lists different playgrounds, fields, pools and other play spaces in your area. Visitors can add playgrounds to the user-generated map, upload pictures and rate them.
2) Plant a Garden
By planting a garden, a child can experience the satisfaction that comes with caring for something over time, while observing the cycle of life first hand. Gardening can also bring environmental awareness to kids at an earlier age.
3) Play the Backyard Matching Game
Go outside with your kids and have them close their eyes, as you fill a paper bag with items from the backyard. Gather pine cones, leaves, rocks, pebbles, flowers, etc. Have your children reach in the bag, pull out an object and hunt for a similar one in your yard. Continue until each item from the bag has a match.
4) Create a Backyard Scavenger Hunt
5) Make a Nature Notebook
A nature notebook can help your kids keep track of their observations. Spend thirty minutes a day finding interesting things to put in their notebook. They can draw pictures of what they see or take notes.
6) Conduct a Bug Hunt
Turn over a rock or look under a flower pot for some creepy crawlers. Using a bug container will allow your kids to look closely at different worms and insects without getting too grossed out — just make sure to put the bugs back where you found them. Here are more tips for this icky investigation.
7) Go on Day Trips
Whether it’s a trip to a park, museum or field, going on a day trip is a fun way for you and your kids to get out of the house and learn more about nature.
8) Explore a Rotten Log
That dead tree or stump can be a great science lesson. Kids can investigate and note everything they see: what’s on the surface, moss, holes bored into the log, bugs and more. Ask your child questions about what bugs they saw and what they think they were doing there — like finding shelter or gathering food.
9) Build a Bird Feeder
Get a bird feeder or make one yourself using a pinecone and peanut butter, and put it outside near a window. Kids can look out the window whenever they please and it’s an easy and simple way to keep kids connected with nature.
10) Head Out on a Nature Walk
Whether you live in a city, a suburb or a rural area, a nature walk is a simple way to get your kids outside. Even just walking around your block, kids can observe trees, bugs and birds they see along the way.
Technology is not commonly associated with getting outside however, but geocaching is an easy way to combine the two. It’s is a high-tech treasure hunt, where users search for treasures or “caches” using a GPS device to pinpoint the correct location.
12) Take a Penny Walk
To make a walk with your kids a little more interesting, let a penny lead the way! When you come to a road, turn or intersection, flip a penny. If it lands on heads, go right and if it lands on tails, turn left.
Let us know: How do you get outside with your kids?