Going back to school doesn't mean you have to put away the sunblock and succumb to months of indoor activities. The crisp air and falling leaves present the perfect opportunity to help kids fall in love with nature. Studies show that getting kids outside enjoying nature leads to better results in the classroom, including increased focus. We asked Lisa Hayden of Nature Rocks, a Nature Conservancy program designed to inspire kids to get outside and explore nature, for ideas that will motivate them to put down those video games and turn off the tube.
1. Backyard Mystery. Only have 30 minutes? You may only have to head as far as your backyard to get your kids to fall in love with the outdoors. Have them collect a variety of leaves, grass, twigs and foliage that will fit in a sack. Ask kids to reach their hands inside (without looking!), and hold onto something (without looking!). Younger kids will have fun guessing what they're touching. You can ask older ones to describe the differences in the leaves.
2. Check out the mobile-friendly Nature Finder tool on naturerocks.org to locate nearby zoos, parks and other natural spots to explore.
3. What if it's raining (or snowing)? No worries – there are activities for these days, too. Puddle-jumping works for all ages, and setting up a rain gauge to measure how much rain has fallen is a great way to try some citizen science. On colder, snowy days, build a snow fort with your kids or have an old-fashioned, good-natured snowball fight to get the blood pumping!
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How are you inspiring your kids to fall in love with nature? We want to know!