Thursday, June 6, 2013

Six Fun Green Outdoor Activities for the Kids

Remember when you were young and played outside all day?  Most children don’t do that anymore and they’re missing out.  Not just on exercise and fresh air but also on a true appreciation for nature and our environment.  Here are six fun and green outdoor activities to encourage more time outdoors and help your kids enjoy the earth and all it can provide.

bug passion
 (Photo credit: nonperturbative)
#1.  Host a scavenger nature hunt.  Give children a digital camera and send them on a hunt for all things nature.  For example, your list can contain items like dandelions, worms, a maple leaf, and a ladybug and so on.  You can adjust the list of items to hunt for to the age of your children.  If digital camera skills are beyond your little ones, then give them a pad of paper and a pencil so they can check off the items they find.

#2.  Bird watching or stargazing.  Looking up at the sky can fill hours of time and when you make it active, by looking for specific birds, bird habitats, constellations or planets, children learn and have fun.  Both activities can be enhanced with a telescope or binoculars, but they can also be accomplished with the naked eye.  Head to the library to pick up a book on birds or constellations and watch the fun.

#3.  Watching bugs.  Ants, bees, fireflies and praying mantises are fantastic to watch and children, for some crazy reason, like bugs.  Children can learn about what bugs eat, how they interact and communicate with each other and how they benefit nature.  They’re the bottom and the top of the circle of life.

#4.  Go fly a kite!  Flying a kite is 100% green and you can easily add a bit of a Benjamin Franklin lesson into the playtime.  It takes zero energy, other than the energy you need to keep up with the kite, and if you add making a kite from household items into the outing then it’s a super environmentally-friendly outdoor activity - and a great way to get outside for the whole family!

#5.  Remember pet rocks?  Those goofy items sold back in the 70s are actually a great outdoor activity.  Using non-toxic and environmentally safe paint, children can paint their favorite rock to look like a dog, cow, pig, monkey or whatever their favorite animal is.  They can gather a collection of rocks and paint a whole zoo or barnyard.  To keep mess at bay, lay out a piece of newspaper on the ground and let children create their masterpieces outside where it doesn’t matter as much if they spill the paint.

Leaf Rubbing Card
Leaf Rubbing Card (Photo credit: cproppe)
#6.  Nature rubbings are one way for children to combine their artistic voice and an exploration of nature.  All you need are some non-toxic crayons with the paper peeled off so children can use them sideways, paper, a hard surface and a bit of nature.  Place the item to be explored, like a leaf or a flower, under the paper and on top of the hard, smooth, surface; then rub the crayon over the top of the paper.  The image will come through.  Children can create amazing masterpieces by rubbing a number of items on one page or they can add their own personal touches. 

There are so many amazing things for children to enjoy and explore outside and most of them are completely environmentally friendly.  Teach your children to love nature and being outdoors and they’ll grow up with an appreciation for the planet we live on - and maybe someday develop great environmental and planet-saving technologies - who knows?

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