Once school starts, sports and band practice begins, and vacations are over, it seems there is never enough time in the day to just get outside with our kids.
I’m a firm believer in getting lots of nature time – anything, as long as it includes plenty of fresh air, surrounded by trees and plants and dirt. The National Wildlife Federation’s campaign, “Be Out There” has a list of 10 ways to get outside, even after school starts.
Here are my favorites out of their list of tips to get a Green Hour during a busy day:
- Scenario: Backpack? Check. Lunch? Check. You’re ready to head to school. Tip: Whether you drive or walk to school, or wait with your child by the bus-stop, take a moment to notice nature. Make it a game of “I Spy” — or download this nature scavenger hunt at Green Hour.
- Scenario: Your child is studying plants at school and, at the dinner table, recites how photosynthesis works. You, yourself, have never successfully kept a plant alive. Tip: Start small: All you need is some bird-seed and a sponge. For sponge-garden instructions, visit greenhour.org/spongegarden. Next step: check out National Gardening Association’s parents’ primer for gardening with kids.
- Scenario: The kids get home from school and immediately plop in front of the TV. You suggest going outside. They respond, “Indoors is more fun!” Tip #1: Set time-limits for TV watching and video game playing. It won’t be popular, so make sure you have a back-up plan. If you have a backyard, kid-customize it with a homemade fort, dart boards, a trampoline, a craft table. Set up a bird house to keep wildlife visiting. Tip #2: No backyard? Find your local parks using nwf.org/naturefind. For older kids, start stretching your child’s boundaries, allowing them to go for unsupervised walks in the neighborhood with groups of friends. They’ll love the feeling of independence.
- Scenario: It’s 8 p.m. Dinner’s over, but not quite time for bed. Tip: Keep flashlights near the door, and go for a neighborhood night hike. Kids will love the novelty — and you can challenge them to identify “night sounds.” Learn how to make a moon journal at Green Hour.
For the full list of 10 Ways To Get Outside — Even After School Starts, by Anne Keisman (@GreenHour), read it at Green Hour.
We live in Portland, Oregon where long, wet seasons can easily tempt us into staying inside so it takes more effort, preparation and creativity to get out during what seems like 9 months of rain. But we do. We all have the gear like hats, rain boots, and rain-proof jackets to keep dry while we explore nature in a different season or jump in puddles down the street. Each year we try to discover one new thing we can enjoy in the rain.
Luckily, our children would much rather be outside exploring than hanging out in their rooms so it doesn’t take much encouragement.
I love the suggestions for the moon journal & sponge-garden. We’ll be checking those out. Thanks
Another great way to make outside activity fun can be found at http://www.bergtoys.com The BERG compay motto is “Let’s play outside” and their rugged high quality pedal go-karts make it very attractive for children ages 3 and up to want to play outside and get healthy and safe exercise.
Disclaimer: I work for the BERG Toys distributor in the USA, Binkley & Hurst LP. At all our events and outdoor functions kids and adults have a great time discovering the pedal go-karts. You can find dealers at our website binkleyhurst.com and go to the BERG Toys section.
Let’s play outside – more!