Summer vacation is around the corner, and although you may be looking forward to a break from taking the kids to and from school, concerns may be mounting about how your children will wind up spending those unstructured days.
While you have fond memories of exploring your neighborhood, camping and catching bugs at the park, your kids seem eager to settle down with their tablets and TVs.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you to encourage your kids to get up, go outside and foster their sense of adventure. Here are a few ideas to consider.
Make Multimedia Offerings Educational
There are a variety of nature-themed shows online and on TV produced with kids in mind. The National Geographic Kids website, for example, offers an amazing variety of videos, including facts and photos from all 50 states, tales about birds that call each state home and a series on national parks.
Make some popcorn, get comfy on the couch and watch some of these educational and interesting videos with your kiddos. If they express interest in trying to see some of the birds and/or sights themselves, see if you can schedule a short vacation or camping trip to make it happen.
Treat Them to Some Adventure Supplies
Kids who never had much interest in exploring the great outdoors will typically turn into a mighty adventurer once they have a sleeping bag and flashlight. If the budget allows, take your kids shopping for some affordable and basic outdoor supplies. And if your kiddos are old enough, buy them their own Swiss Army knives, and also spring for an emergency mountain whistle and a real compass.
For kids who have watched you use a GPS to find out where you’re traveling, it might blow their minds in a good way to learn to use a compass. If you are planning a camping trip and you approve, buy your kids an air pistol they can use for fun plinking games.
Let Them Get Dirty
As PBS notes, many kids’ experiences with nature have involved a “look but don’t touch” rule, which might ultimately squash their desire to get outdoors. Instead of discouraging them from peering under rocks and climbing trees, remember back to your childhood and the fun you had by encouraging them to get down with Mother Nature. From your own backyard to a nearby park or nature trail, there are plenty of places where your kids will have a blast exploring the outdoors.
Camp in the Backyard
If a full camping trip is out of budget or not on the schedule for the summer, or if your kids are hesitant about spending the night in the pitch-black forest, set up camp in the backyard. Pitch your tents and sleep in real sleeping bags, and use the BBQ to toast marshmallows for S’mores, sing silly campfire songs and lie back and watch the stars.
If you are okay with technology being part of your backyard adventure, download a planet app and see for yourselves exactly which planets and constellations are overhead.