Getting kids outside can be a challenge. You need something that can capture and hold their attention better than any electronic device. Piece of cake.
Kidding. Breaking away from technology is a nightmare, and we have no sound advice to offer. But maybe this will generate an idea or two. Or you will send us hate emails. We accept the outcome.
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Activity Age: 4+
Main Theme: Explore the outdoor interests of your child.
Pro Tip: Be simple. Be flexible. Have an escape route.
Reward Idea: For a physical reward, your child's first magnifying glass! For an emotional reward, offer a
Snack Idea: Make an anthill out of peanut butter, raisins, and crackers.
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Need 50 nature activity ideas for kids? Boom. There ya go. Instant idea list.
Outdoor activities for kids | Adventure 1: Start Simple
It may seem risky, but starting with a short, small adventure may be the safe choice if your child is not acclimated to a life of adventure or the outdoors in general. This may also be the best option if operating on a limited budget. However, if you know your child well enough to know you need the wow factor, consider a local nature center with some cool education programs. If that is not where you are at in your child's relationship with being outside, our recommendation is to start comfortable and quick. Short and sweet. Easy peasy.
Steps to Adventure
Scout your yard.
Do research on what related plants, animals, rocks, etc., you might be able to find in your yard. Is it wintertime? Then find the remnants or signs of these things!
Set aside a set amount of time (but be flexible).
If this is your first attempt, keep the activity short (<25 min). However, if they are having fun, be flexible and do not rush through.
Make it a game, a story, or an art project.
Looking for bugs? Make it a race to find the first anthill. Or a scavenger hunt for three different insect types with wings. Can't identify the insects? Who cares. Start simple.
Too cold and snowy? Look for tracks. Make drawings or write your own story of what the animal making the tracks was doing. Share the stories and vote on the funniest, most creative, or the weirdest. Start simple.
The major point for this step is: Match how you plan the activity with your child's interests or strengths. You can challenge them after a few successful outings. Start simple.
Consider an easy prize.
Maybe the winner does not have to make their bed the next day? Or they get to pick dinner. Did not make it a contest? Great! Then tell your adventurer they have completed their first quest, and their brave self gets to pick dinner, stay up late, etc.
Trying new things. Dealing with changes. Stepping out of comfort. These are really hard for adults. If your child just tried something new, consider thanking them for a fun, new, exciting, whatever adventure. Yeah, you were in charge. You are the adult. But letting them feel some responsibility might lead to them suggesting the next adventure.
Have an end of adventure treat.
A delicious, healthy treat at the end of the dusty trail is ALWAYS a good idea.
These permafocus binoculars are great for kids, as they have fewer moving parts and are simple to use!
To see a full list of recommended binoculars, click here!
If this is truly your first attempt at doing an outdoor activity with your child, be flexible and patient. It might go very poorly. And that is okay. Notice this first activity was not rigid in its suggestions. You need to adapt anything you are doing to your situation and interests.
Need some other quick tips for an outdoor activity with kids? Here you go:
Invite friends or neighbors to join.
Having other kids around may help ease everyone into a new situation. We are herd organisms and generally feel more comfortable in personal groups.
Plan a backup activity.
Activity failing miserably? Have a backup.
Have an escape plan.
Did everything go wrong? Even the backup plan? Have a failsafe to prevent a lasting negative association with going outside. Something that is a guaranteed winner for your child. ONLY PULL THIS CHUTE IN CASE OF EMERGENCY!
Ask a local outdoor educator for tips for your area.
If an activity did not interest your child, ask them what outdoor activity they might want to try.