The great outdoors can be an inviting place with plenty of opportunities for adventure. It’s also a treasure trove of sights and sounds that can serve as a springboard for a lifelong yearning for knowledge.
Children of the 1980s and before may remember long days spent outside with requirements to “come back in when the street lights turn on.” Today’s children may not have as much freedom, but they still can benefit from both unstructured and structured play outside. The following are some outdoor activities families can enjoy together.
Fossil hunting: Whether there is a natural fossil bed nearby or not, children can use plastic colanders and shovels to dig in the dirt or sand to see if any treasures can be found.
Collect and paint rocks: Collect stones and then paint them with vivid designs or sayings. Once painted, families can place them back into their natural surroundings for others to discover.
Make a nature collage: Take a hike or a stroll through a nearby park and collect little treasures along the way. Glue these items to a piece of cardstock or cardboard to create a collage that will serve as a memento of the day.
Run through a sprinkler: Pools can be great fun, but something as simple as a garden sprinkler can keep everyone occupied for a few hours.
Visit a botanical garden: Tour a nearby botanical garden to get an opportunity to see flowers and plants that may not be native to the area. Bring sketch pads and draw your favorite plants.
Go camping: Whether you camp in the backyard, in the woods or at a campsite, spending a night immersed in nature can be an unforgettable experience. Camping equipment can be rented or borrowed, if necessary.
Enjoy a picnic: Bring a meal outdoors to a quiet spot, like a park or garden.
Take a boat ride: Enjoying the great outdoors from the water brings an entirely new perspective. Purchase tickets for a fishing charter or take a tour of a local waterway.
Feed ducks or other birds: Children can see wildlife in its natural environment, and provide some supplemental nutrition in the process. Bring along wild birdseed (bread is not a healthy option) and sprinkle some along shorelines or in the water to watch the birds arrive.
Do a scavenger hunt in nature: While on any excursion, you can engage in a scavenger hunt. Have a list of five to 10 items to find, such as a pink flower, a leaf with a stem and a black rock. See who can find them all the fastest.