18 Ways to Help Your Kids Value the Great Outdoors

Encourage your little ones to spend less time in front of screens and more time outside with these fun, easy ideas.

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Take Your Kids Camping

Whether it’s in your own backyard or in a spot far from home, camping is one of the grandest adventures you can have with your family. Your kids will be immersed in a new environment and experience a new way of living in harmony with nature.

Offer Them Tools Their Own Size

Nothing encourages participation quite like letting kids have their own set of tools. Choose small trowels and gardening gloves for the garden, and build a miniature wheelbarrow so they can feel productive throughout their day.

Make an Experience of Seed Starting

Let the kids help with seed starting in anticipation of the gardening season. From filling trays with soil to counting seeds and watering the plants, they’ll value the experience of watching something grow, and they'll be willing to help come time to transplant outdoors.

Foster a Flower Garden

Find new ways to help the kids get their hands dirty outdoors by creating a garden space that they can easily access. Make it an annual celebration to pick out plants at the farmers market and transplant them into their new home.

Put Them in Charge of Harvesting the Produce

The daily harvest can generate lots of excitement - for kids and adults, alike. Foster responsibility and appreciation for the foods you’ve grown by assigning this chore to your children. Bonus: They’ll probably like harvesting so much that they’ll also get their daily veggie intake with ease.

Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Space

Take ordinary living outdoors by embracing warm days on the back porch. Encourage older kids to paint the trees or birds they see. Allow younger kids to explore paint and markers that might be too messy to manage indoors.

Build Birdhouses and Bat Houses

Cultivate a backyard environment that’s welcoming to wildlife, and leverage the opportunity to let kids observe these animals in their habitat. Birdhouses and bat houses are an easy way to encourage the creatures to make themselves at home, and they’ll give your kids something to monitor while they explore outside.

Embrace Birdwatching

If you put up birdhouses in your own yard, let your kids don a pair of binoculars. Provide a book that helps them identify the types of birds they spot, and help them keep a journal to track their observations. Take the binoculars and journal along with you anywhere you explore, and they’ll not only grow into knowledgeable little birdies of their own kind, but they’ll learn patience and appreciate the rewarding experience when they spot something they recognize.

Own a Great Playset

Whether it’s a handmade backyard treehouse or a store-bought ground-level playset, designate a space for your kids to play outdoors. Whether it houses their outdoor toys or their first rock collection, this spot should foster their imagination and serve as an escape from their indoor world.

Make a Critter Catcher

Let your kids get up close with nature by helping them catch their own critters. A homemade mesh carrier makes it easy to transport, observe and appreciate the detail of creatures in nature. Of course, you should also teach them what’s safe to capture and what should be avoided if you live in an area with threatening insects.

Design an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

Perfect for any spring or summer picnic, a homemade scavenger hunt will keep the kids outside enjoying the fresh air, and encourage them to take a closer look at their surroundings.

Go Stargazing

Help your kids enjoy the night sky with the help of a telescope, or one of the many amazing apps that make it easy to spot constellations and planets, such as Star Chart and the NASA app. They’ll discover an appreciation for the wide world around us.

Take Beach Walks

Make the most of any beachfront access, whether it’s in your backyard or during vacation. Walking with your feet toeing the water is good for the soul, and sandcastles are fun to build whether you're young or old. Bring assorted beach toys and let your kids play, regardless if they’re suited to swim or not.

Bike Around Town

Adventure around your town on bike paths and sidewalks. Being active outdoors is one of the easiest ways for anyone to fall in love with nature. Your kids will value this playtime opportunity, too.

Try Your Hand at Fishing

By boat, by pier or beside an area pond, take your children fishing to let them have a closer look at an underwater ecosystem. This relaxing pastime teaches patience and appreciation for the deep blue, and all of the little things that live there, too.

Preserve Fall Leaves

Enjoy fall colors well into the winter by helping your kids create an autumnal bouquet. Leaves can be preserved for months if you iron them between layers of wax paper, and the kids will definitely enjoy having their favorites on display after autumn has passed.

Let Them Participate in Outdoor Chores

Seasonal chores can feel like a burden, but when you let kids help you take care of business, the mood tends to lighten. Give your child a small snow shovel and see what he’s made of during the next big storm. Offer a broom to dust off a patio. Let them see it as play, and they'll learn that getting outdoors to take care of the home can be rewarding.

Choose Outdoor Sports

Embrace the seasons and find outdoor activities that suit your family’s personality. The options are plentiful in the summer, but in colder climates and chillier months, seek out opportunities to keep your kids immersed in nature. You might like to snowshoe, or downhill and Nordic ski. Sledding might be your calling. Keep experiences short on cold days, but frequent throughout the season, and it’ll be more likely that they’ll continue to embrace these outdoor activities over time.

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