How to make being outdoors fun and even rewarding for kids inclined to stick to their screens?
Tearing your children away from their screens and into the backyard, let alone the woods, can be difficult, but the slew of benefits that the outdoors provides kids’ minds is ample reason to give it a try. Happily, there are lots of ways to make nature as stimulating as the activities kids like to do inside.
Here Are Some Ideas for Getting Your Kids into Nature
Set up Treasure Hunts
Make a short, simple list of things for your kids to look for outside such as “a shiny object,” or “something you can hold liquid in.” The satisfaction of finding the objects turns it into a reinforcing activity, and it will keep them outside in search of the next list item.
Get a book with pictures about birds, bugs, leaves, trees, or flowers in your local area, and go outside looking for specific creatures in the book to identify.
Matching leaves to pictures and names have a reinforcing treasure hunt kind of appeal. The same goes for bird calls.
Give Them the Tools to Discover
Gifts like a bug box, a magnifying glass, or a shovel will promote ways to explore the outdoors with a fun new tool that feels professional and empowering.
Go to an Outdoor Performance
Parks in almost every city have performances for kids, many of which are free. If your child cannot take her eyes off Nickelodeon, take her to a puppet show in the park.
For older kids who like movies, take them to outdoor plays and musicals.
Start a Collection
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You can find small parts of nature like rocks or shells almost everywhere, and starting a collection adds appeal, giving a kid motivation to search and therefore spend time outdoors.
Just make sure you are not in a state park most have rules that do not let you bring anything home.
Use the Technology to Your Advantage
If your kid is hooked on any and all electronic devices, have him bring along a camera or phone and create video or photo journals of various nature trips.
He will still be near a piece of technology, but he will be using it to focus on the world around him.
Go Fruit or Vegetable Picking
Coming home with a basket of food that they have gathered on their own is both rewarding and might make them appreciate their food, and where it comes from, more.
Plant a Garden
Tracking the progress and seeing the eventual product of a seed your child planted provides a different, deeper sense of achievement than beating a difficult level in a video game or getting a lot of likes on your last Instagram.
Take a Hike
Walking on a trail to a waterfall or breath-taking view also gives kids a sense of accomplishment, rewarding them for their physical efforts during the hike.
This goes for bike rides, too. If there is a swimming hole at the end, they will even be able to cool off. Just do not forget to bring snacks and take short breaks to keep their energy up!
Make Art Projects
For the kids who would rather sit inside with some arts and crafts, get them to use objects from nature for their art.
Picking flowers to press onto paper, using berry juice as paint, or collecting pinecones and rocks to decorate are ways to infuse nature into activities they already enjoy.
You can also reverse the process and make art with your kids that will support and nurture the natural world things like bird feeders or flower boxes. Kids will keep coming back to watch an object they created provide for other living things.
Always Lead by Example
All the advantages that nature offers ring true for adults, too, especially for stress relief and mood improvement.
Try to get outside with your kids not only will it show them how important spending time in nature is, but you might find you enjoy it just as much as they do.
About the Author
Trishna Patnaik is a BSc (in life sciences) and MBA (in marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. Previously a corporate professional, she realized that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion, painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter based in Mumbai, as well as an art therapist and healer.