It seems these days that kids spend so much of their time cooped up inside, playing computer games and watching television. Fresh air is good for all of us, and nature is such a great source of learning and intrigue, it seems a shame that more children aren’t encouraged to spend time outside. Here are just a few ideas for things you can get up to outside that are both educational and fun.
1. Pick Fruit Together
Scavenging for fruit is a great way of teaching your kids where food comes from and gives them a beginners biology lesson to boot. Even toddlers love getting involved and getting a bit messy. Show them what is ripe and what isn’t, encourage them to taste the fruit fresh from the tree, and then go home and bake a delicious pie that the whole family can enjoy.
2. Pack A Picnic
Choose a lovely secluded spot on the beach or under some trees, pack a feast into a hamper, and get out exploring. When the weather is good, it seems a shame to eat at home. Encourage your children to come up with picnic ideas for food, and ask for their help in preparing and packing. Just don’t forget insect repellent, wet wipes, and antibacterial hand gel.
3. Go For A Hike
You could combine your picnic with a lovely hike through the outdoors for older children. When planning, ensure you choose a route which you know won’t be too arduous for your kid’s little legs. Make sure you make frequent stops along the way for treats, and to look at the plants and animals that line your route.
4. Set Up Camp
If you’ve got a little bit more time to spare, why not make great family memories by spend some of it sleeping surrounded by nature. Kids will love the opportunity to put up their tents, cook their dinner over a campfire, and sing songs as the sun sets. Just make sure you choose a protected camping site and take any necessary precautions if you’re in bear country.
5. Go On A Bug Safari
You can do this right in your own backyard, all you need is a few cardboard boxes, plastic tweezers, and a book for identification. It’s the perfect opportunity for a bit of a biology class, but also to teach children not to be squeamish of creepy-crawlies. Encourage them to pick up bugs using the tweezers, put them in a box, and then try to identify them. You can even test them later on.
6. Learn About The Weather
Adults can find inclement weather inconvenient and an irritation, but for children, it’s just another new experience. When it rains in the warmer months, put your raincoats on and splash around in puddles and dance in the yard. When it snows, build snowmen, snow dogs, entire snow families, go sledging, and throw snowballs. Afterward, warm up with hot cocoa and a bath. You’ll all sleep well after that.
7. Make Sandcastles
If you’re lucky enough to live nearby, the beach is a great place to hang out with your kids, and really educational too. Build sandcastles and moats, decorate them with rocks and have a competition to see who can make it the highest before the tide comes in. Spend some time looking in rock pools at the tiny fish, crabs, and limpets on the rocks. Kids love seeing what they can find.
8. Do Some Yard Work Together
When the weather is clement, and you just know you need to cut back some of the overgrown foliage, why not enlist the help of your kids? They’ll happily pull out weeds and spot the creepy crawlies. If you enjoy growing your own vegetables, why not encourage your kids to plant the seeds and check on their progress regularly? If they’re after a pet, then they can prove how responsible they are by watering their plants daily.
9. Build A Fort
If you live near a forested area or your yard is big enough, why not scavenge for branches and twigs together and build a simple lean-to fort against a larger tree? Finding the right materials and creating a sound structure is a great education for slightly older children. They’ll love sitting in the fort, and the sense of achievement at the end is brilliant.
There are so many different ways you can experience nature with children of all ages. Even if you live in an urban environment, your own backyard has so much to offer. It’s all about just getting outside and seeing what adventures you can find.
This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.