When summer hits, your kids will have the incredible urge to plop down on the couch and binge-watch their favorite shows throughout their entire break or play on their iPads for countless hours. However, while there’s a time for that, what parents need to do is to find ways to get the kids outside. There’s a ton of fun to be had outdoors, and many of the greatest activities are also educational so that the learning can continue even during summer break.
We’ve compiled some great ways to inspire your kids to leave the house and learn about the great outdoors through camping, exploring, and more.
Camping provides many opportunities for family bonding and learning about the amazing world around us. Parents can get their kids more excited about the idea by touting it as an exciting adventure where they’ll live like the old settlers and get by without technology.
There’s also a ton to do when you’re out there, from roasting marshmallows to building forts from tree branches and items on the forest floor. Of course, no camping trip would be complete without a long walk down a new and mysterious trail. You’ll want to find a trail that offers something new to see, but it should also be safe for the little ones. There are several family-friendly hiking trails here in Orlando, including a gorgeous walk through Garden Winter Park and incredible trails that go through the Orlando Wetlands.
If your kids aren’t thrilled about your idea of camping, you may be able to excite them with the prospect of attending a local summer camp. There are many options out there with unique themes, and one is bound to inspire the kiddos to want to spend some time outdoors. Plus, summer camp is great for helping your child to:
- Improve their social skills.
- Build their self-confidence.
- Strengthen their mental health by connecting with others.
- Become physically active.
Encourage Them to Be Part of Something Bigger
It’s never too early to encourage your children to stake their place in this world and be a part of something bigger, and they can start outside. While your kids can learn some new things through educational video games and YouTube documentaries, that screen time can eventually do more harm than good. Constant viewing can lead to vision problems down the road. They can even form an unhealthy addiction when they’re constantly on their devices.
Your kids can also learn a lot more about nature by being outside than they ever could by watching television. They can learn about cool new animals, insects, and wildlife, all while understanding how they can make a difference in the world. For instance, you could teach them about the native plant movement, which involves people who try to eliminate invasive species by adding plants that are native to the area. It’s a brilliant idea because native plants can often grow better with less interference and provide a food source for many local birds and insects.
Talk to your kids about this movement, and if they’re interested, bring them out to the local forest preserve so they can spot some of the invasive species. You could also have fun planting native plants in your own backyard garden.
There are other ways your kids can get outside and make a big difference, like by creating their own park cleanup crew. By gathering up their siblings and some friends, your kids can see in real-time just how fast a small area can become littered and how with teamwork, they can transform the same area to look good as new. There’s a lot of pride in seeing the difference we can make with our two hands. Your children may use this experience as a stepping stone for future environmental projects.
Teach Them About Survival
Older kids with a bit more experience with nature may get a kick out of learning how to use special skills to survive and even build a successful life out in the wilderness. For instance, they might enjoy learning how to start a fire using only the wood, kindling, and tinder they find in the forest. You or a guide can show them how to use rocks to build the fire pit, identify flammable substances, and safely put out the fire at the end.
Another fun idea is to teach the kids how to forage for berries, so they can see that there’s more to eat than what they find at the grocery store. Many great edible plants, like dandelions, garlic mustard, purslane, and more, can be found in most states, so try to find those. Just make sure you bring a reliable identification guidebook with you. When harvesting, your kids should bring water, a bag for collecting their treasures, and a journal, so they can write about their experience and what they’ve learned.
For something completely different, teach them how to climb a tree. It’s amazing how useful it can be to climb up high to get away from predators and pick and store food. Go out to the park and help them climb a tree by showing them how to use their bodies to gain momentum, identify rotten branches, and more. Your kids will have a blast while learning an essential survival skill.
There are many different ways to encourage your kids to drop the tablet and get outside. Give your children a reason to try something new, and they’ll learn some skills along the way and thank you later in life.