Outdoors

4 Unique Activities to Get Your Kids Off Their Devices

This post was contributed by Luke Douglas of Ripped.me

One of the biggest concerns parents have is how to instill good habits in their children.

That starts at the earliest age and never really stops. If you have a kid, you’ve probably asked yourself time after time how to motivate them to spend more time outdoors. Everybody knows how beneficial it is for kids to spend time engaging in outdoor activities but actually getting them outside is easier said than done. Nowadays, thanks to tablets and smart phones, it is not enough to just get them outside; you have to come up with an engaging activity to keep them away from their smart devices, so consider the next few suggestions.

Skateboarding

Skateboarding is a great activity for kids. It is fun and good for their physical development. This is a type of exercise that will help kids build muscles and improve their physical coordination. Although it is not a team sport, it provides a great opportunity for children to learn how to socialize and make new friends. Once they get into skateboarding, they will probably spend their free time at skate parks trying to build their skating chops, and they will surely meet other kids with similar interests. If you want to get your child into this activity, a good idea would be to buy them a cool Bart Simpson skateboard. Every kid knows how much Bart loves skateboarding and having a cool skateboard like that will surely pique their interest in this activity.

Gardening

If you want to teach your kids about nature, you should start gardening with them. You don’t need a lot of space for this – you can plant a small garden in your yard or just a few plants in a bigger pot if you live in an apartment. Talk to them about their interests and decide whether they are better suited for caring for decorative plants or edible ones. Whichever type of plants you choose, taking care of them will teach your kids responsibility, commitment, and the value of taking care of nature. Planting some vegetables will be great for their feeling of accomplishment when they see and taste the fruits of their labor. Gardening is not exactly an exercise, but it is physically challenging and it will help your kids get moving. Plus, your garden or balcony is guaranteed to look nicer.

A bug hunt

bug hunting with your kids

Image from pexels.com

Another great outdoor activity is organizing a bug hunt. Challenge your little ones to scour your yard or neighborhood for interesting bugs. They should search everywhere they can to find as many bugs as possible, and they can also classify them later. They can draw the bugs or if they are old enough to use a smartphone and are interested in photography, they can even photograph them. This activity will get them running around searching for as many bugs as they can find, it will develop an appreciation for all living creatures, and it might get them interested in biology too. This is a great activity to physically activate children but also to develop a sense of wonder in them. The key to an activity like this is to plan it well and come up with prizes for good results. The prize should be something that will further inspire them to learn, like visiting a museum, but it can also be a good idea to spice it up with something your kids really like.

Neighborhood Olympics

Organizing a fun event like the Olympics for the kids in your neighborhood will get them all outdoors, and once they see how much fun running around can be, they will forget about their smart devices. You don’t need to do a lot of preparation. Announce the sports in which they will be competing, make some paper medals, and let them do the rest. If you organize it well, they will spread the word, invite their family to watch, and do their best to show their skills. If the kids get into it, you can even make a tradition of it. The important thing is that they will engage in an activity that is great for their health, spend time outdoors, and have an outlet for their creativity because they will want to make it bigger and better next time.

 

Blogger Bio:

luke douglasLuke is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.

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5 Creative and Fun Activities For Cold Winter Days

This article was contributed courtesy of Leah McDermott, a natural child learning specialist.

It may be starting to get cold outside, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck inside! Children can benefit just as much from daily outdoor time in the winter as they can any other time of the year, so it’s just as important to find ways to get out there and enjoy all of the fantastic changes that take place in nature during the colder months.

Here are five of our favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors, even when it’s snowy, rainy, or super chilly:

Animal Track Hunt: 

animal tracks

This activity is best done the morning after a fresh snowfall, but anytime there is snow on the ground will do! Head outside (bonus if you’re near a wooded area) with a camera or blank notebook/pencil and search for animal tracks in the snow! When you find some, take pictures and/or have your child draw what they see in their notebook. Keep in mind that not all animals make paw prints! What might a snake or bug look like making its way through the snow? Ask your child which animal they think the tracks belong to, and jot ideas down. Once you’re back inside warming up, search through animal track books – Tracks, Scats and Signs by Leslie Dendy is a favorite of ours – or utilize the internet to help you accurately identify the tracks you found!

 

Frozen Bubbles frozen bubbles

Save this one for when the temps are super de-duper cold, as you need it to be well below freezing outside for the bubbles to freeze rapidly. This is about as easy as it gets – simply grab that container of bubble juice from the summer (or whip up your own), head outside, and start blowing! The bubbles should freeze before they hit the ground. This gives your child a rare opportunity to get a good look at a bubble, watch the crystals form on it, and to see what it looks like when it pops/breaks. Talk with your child about the differences between bubbles in the summer and bubbles in the winter.

Snowball Lanterns 

snowball lanterns

To prep for this activity, all you need is some glowsticks and fresh snow! Have your child make a bunch of snowballs. Place glowsticks standing up in the snow and carefully stack snowballs loosely around the glowstick to form a snowball lantern! This is an especially fun activity in the late afternoon (you know… when the kiddos are in that pre-bedtime meltdown mode), because the lanterns can be really enjoyed when the sun has gone down! You can really ramp up the excitement for this activity if you put the glowsticks outside on the ground when the snow begins to fall. This way, the snow will cover the sticks, creating a super fun and colorful “Northern Lights” effect in the yard!

 

Frozen Scavenger Hunt scavenger hunt

This activity will work whether you have snow on the ground or not. It takes a little prep, but will provide tons of fun! Gather an assortment of small toys and objects from around the house and freeze them in ice cubes. When ready, hide the frozen objects outdoors and have your child go on a hunt to find all of them. Extend this to a literacy activity by making a checklist for your child to read and check off as they search. Once you’ve gathered all of the objects (and maybe hid them again once or twice,) bring them inside and place all of the frozen cubes in the warm bath water with your child. Your child can watch the toys thaw out as they warm up too!

Indoor Winter 

indoor winter

Let’s face it – sometimes, it’s just too cold to be outside. But that doesn’t mean that you and your child can’t still enjoy the beautiful winter scene that nature provides! So, on one of those super cold days, bring the outdoors inside! Set up a tarp or plastic sheet on the floor and bring in some containers of snow and an assortment of outdoor winter nature objects – like icicles, pinecones, frozen sticks or rocks, etc. Give your child a variety of instruments to sort, scoop, create, and examine the nature with. Mix some food coloring in spray bottles of water and let them “paint” the snow. Watercolors work great on ice blocks. Experiment with ways to melt icicles fastest – use things like pickle juice, warm water, and salt. Have fun digging into wintery goodness while still staying warm inside!

BONUS: Tips for Dressing Appropriately for Outdoor Winter Fun

Though there are some areas where temps dip far too low to safely play outside regardless of winter gear, in general, the issues with being too cold to venture outdoors usually lie in the clothing choices and not the thermometer. Here are some of our best tips for ensuring you stay protected to best enjoy nature in the winter:

  • Cover Up! Your body will lose heat through any uninsulated area of your body. Put on a hat and a scarf; make sure as little skin is exposed as possible!
  • Cold Hands = Cold Essentials! If your hands are cold, that doesn’t just mean that you need gloves – it also means that your essential organs/core aren’t insulated well enough! Focus on covering the mid-section to help the warm blood flow to your extremities.
  • Layer Up! For best protection on your feet and hands, start with a silk liner, cover with wool, and then a waterproof shell or layer.
  • Check out some more tips HERE.

So, get bundled up and get out there and enjoy all of the beauty and wonder that Winter has to share with us! There’s so much to explore and learn during this time of the year!


leah mcdermottLeah McDermott, M.Ed. is an adventuresome mama of two rambunctious boys, living happily with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She spends her days reading, cooking, exploring outdoors, and learning alongside her littles. She is a former Master Educator and Reading Specialist turned homeschooling mom and natural education consultant and speaker. Leah helps families and educators transform the way their children learn, through child-led experiences exploring the beauty and wonder of nature. She believes passionately that when children spend time freely exploring the world around them, they grow up to be compassionate, caring individuals with incredible problem solving skills, and that through nature-inspired learning, we can change the world, one kid at a time.

You can learn more about Leah, and follow along with her at the following sites:
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