5 Fun and Enriching Outdoor Activities for Kids This Summer
School’s out! Now what? Though the school year is over, there’s plenty to do to keep your kids entertained and engaged all summer long. Whether you’ve got littles bursting with energy or teens in need of a screen-time break, these ideas will get them active and engaged with the world around them.
Plant a Seed and Watch it Grow
Gardening is a rewarding and hands-on activity that kids of all ages can enjoy. From tiny seedlings to gorgeous blossoms, gardening reminds us that all good things take time.
Take your kids to a store to pick out a few seed packets. We recommend selecting some that mature within a month or two for maximum gratification: zinnias, sunflowers and marigolds are great options for central Florida. Start the seeds in a warm but shaded space like the garage or patio and set aside time each day to care for them and measure their growth. Snap a daily pic to save for a fun time lapse later, your kids will be amazed to see the transformation!
A Nature Scavenger Hunt
You don’t have to go far from home to explore a whole new world. Instill a sense of adventure in your kids by helping them explore the breadth and depth of their natural surroundings.
Create a scavenger hunt for them containing a list of items commonly found in your area: a pinecone, a bird’s nest, a pink flower, a butterfly. Then, get everyone’s walking shoes on and you’re ready to begin! If you’d like, add a layer of competition by recording how many of the objects each kid finds with the goal of finding the most.
Older kids can snap a pic of each item on phones or tablets to “collect” them, while younger kids should mark off a checklist or ask for your help in documenting their discoveries. From honing observation skills to learning the importance of admiring while respecting nature, this activity is a great way to get children immersed in the outdoors.
It can be easy to forget the campground out back, but backyard camping can be as exciting for kids as a state park! Pitch a tent, grab some lanterns and flashlights, pack a change of clothes, and grab a game or two. Setting up camp and staying entertained will challenge your campers to problem-solve, be a team, and find the fun in being present (no screens allowed!).
Whether sharing scary or silly stories, mapping the stars, or indulging in a s’more, you’ll love sharing in their wonder. As the sun sets, enjoy the sounds of a summer night and the joy of this backyard escape.
Keep a Nature Journal
When incorporating daily outdoor activities in your child’s routine, provide them with a special notebook to record their thoughts while out and about. They might not be sure what to write down at first, but a great way to kick them off is to ask them to write down what they see, smell, hear. Encourage their curiosity, and reflections about the time they spend in nature. As they get into the swing of it, you can sit back and enjoy their musings.
Later on, look back on their earliest entries and strike up a conversation about what they’ve learned in the time since. Plus, this notebook will double as an adorable memory – snap a pic or two to glue into its pages as a keepsake.
Make a Sundial
For children who are slightly older, this activity is an awesome way to introduce kids to the idea of the solar system and the Earth’s place in it. Start by gathering 12 similarly sized rocks to use as hour markers in your sundial. For extra fun, you can paint these rocks together and create a garden masterpiece. Then, pick out a sunny spot to arrange these in a circle around a paper plate, and number them as you would a clock. Poke a stick in the paper plate to act as the sundial’s spoke. The spoke should be placed at a slight angle pointing north – at noon, it should cast a shadow toward the 12 on your rock clock.
Once assembled, talk through how the sundial works: as the Earth spins, the position of the sun in the sky shifts, which causes the shadow cast by the spoke to change throughout the day. Based on where the shadow falls, you can tell the time and record how much time has passed. Simplify or go into as much detail as you see fit for your kiddo.
Throughout time and still true today, we have so much to learn from the nature around us. Time spent outdoors with your kids will teach them valuable lessons, while also allowing them to reap the calming benefits of nature. With a little creativity, you can keep kids engaged and learning all summer long plus make some wonderful memories along the way.