For many parents, convincing their “indoorsy” kids to trade the iPad for a lily pad and play outside can be challenge. No matter how pretty those blue jays in the backyard may be, they simply can’t compete with the angry birds on screen.
Earth Day is just around the corner, however, offering an ideal opportunity to get kids to play outside. The following is a helpful guide on how to motivate children to hit pause on the video games and embark on a real-life adventure in the Great Outdoors:
Spark a Sense of Adventure With Geocaching
One imaginative way to motivate kids to explore the world outside their bedroom windows is with geocaching—the modern-day equivalent of an international treasure hunt.
Using GPS coordinates provided by geocaching.com, children can scout for hidden treasure boxes known as “geocaches,” which fellow treasure seekers have camouflaged behind bushes, under rocks, and inside logs in neighborhood parks and forests around the world. Wannabe adventure-seekers can get initiated into the secret world of treasure hunting with the Geomate Geocaching Starter Kit.
Let Nature Be the Classroom
A clever tip to get kids to play outside is to enroll them in an outdoor adventure class (it’s outdoor play in disguise!). Archery, kayaking, and wilderness survival are all exciting choices. Don’t have an abundance of nature nearby? You can find plenty of lake and mountain travel deals on LivingSocial.
Highlight the Icky (Yet Fascinating) Side of Nature: Bugs
Flowers and trees may be nice to look at, but they can’t do anything exciting—like rappel from the ceiling fan, for example—and they aren’t great for scaring little sisters.
Insects, on the other hand, are the perfect amount of strange and disgusting to keep even the most city-slicker kiddo occupied for hours. Make nature come alive and create teachable moments for your tots with the Uncle Milton Classic Live Ant Habitat.
Turn the Outdoors Into a Puzzle With a Nature Guidebook
When considering how to get kids to play outside more, it might be helpful to remember that the Great Outdoors may not seem appealing to children simply because they don’t know much about it.
Read them a few pages from an information-rich nature guide, however, and suddenly, that weeping willow is not just a leafy thing taking up space in the backyard, but a 70-year-old oxygen-producing wonder—and a thrilling climbing buddy. The Tree Identification Book comes with 1,500 photographs of tree species, offering hours of “name that neighborhood shrub” fun.
Start Small With a Backyard Campout
Camping is one of the best ways to make outdoor play fun because it provides three things nearly every kid will love: fire, ghost stories, and giant gooey marshmallows.
But for tykes not accustomed to sharing their sleeping quarters with dirt and bugs, a night spent in the less-than-wild backyard can be a safe baby step. With an outdoor fire pit, a telescope, and an Authentic Teepee by Pacific Play Tents, parents can transform their lawns into rustic camping wonderlands.