Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Getting Kids Into Nature: Great Websites

We've had lofty ambitions here at the Natural Capital for lots of posts about fun activities to do with kids outdoors. But, why reinvent the wheel? Here's a list of great websites and blogs that already have a ton of resources for fun with kids and nature.

  1. Nature Rocks is a website full of activities that you can search by the amount of time you have available and the age of your child. They're organized into themes like explore, create, and play. Check it out -- you're sure to find good ideas here. Sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and the Children and Nature Network.
  2. Green Hour is a program of the National Wildlife Federation aimed at getting kids outside for an hour a day of unstructured play. They, too, have a searchable list of activities, as well as a blog. I liked their recent post on how to work in outdoor time during the busy school year.
  3. Ranger Rick is another project of the National Wildlife Foundation, and it was my favorite magazine as a kid. Their website posts seasonal activities, crafts, and book recommendations.
  4. The Children and Nature Network was created "to encourage and support the people and organizations working nationally and internationally to reconnect children with nature." Check out their guide for starting a kids' nature club.
  5. Take a Child Outside is the home of "Take a Child Outside Week," September 24—September 30, 2009. They have a simpler list of activities but some of them are quite sweet.
  6. Let's Go Outside is a website sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. They have an elaborate, kid-oriented website called Neighborhood Explorers where kids can earn "patches" as they complete projects, answer trivia questions and play games. Action projects include building bird houses, planting native plants, and adopting new habits, such as recycling and conserving water and electricity.
  7. Sanborn Western Camps has a PDF of 101 Nature Activities with some fantastic ideas. Some are group activities, but many could be done with one or two kids. A 100 inch hike? Love it. (Thanks to the Grass Stain Guru for passing this one along!)
  8. Where the Other You Lives is a campaign by the Ad Council aimed at getting tweens outdoors. (Work warning: lots of audio on this site!) They've got a few on-line activities, and a PDF book of outdoor activities, here.
  9. Wild Zones is a website dedicated to resources for designing outdoor play spaces that encourage unstructured play in nature: building forts, making nature art, playing in the mud -- things that may not be encouraged by a typical park. They offer a PDF toolkit that describes the concept and gives ideas for how communities can create Wild Zones.
  10. The Grass Stain Guru is of the philosophy that  childhood should be "Messy. Muddy. Slimy. Silly. And most of all, joyful...[and] spent outdoors as much as possible." In addition to writing about all that, she has a cute "Mystery Critter" post on Saturdays for kids (ok, I play too).
  11. Play Outdoors has a blog they call "the Campfire" which "aims to provide inspirational tips, tricks and motivation to get your kids and the whole family outside playing together." They first caught my attention with this post on sunscreen, which applies to adults as well as kids.
  12. The Outdoor Parent is "a collection of surfers, climbers and skiers who have embarked the greatest adventure -- parenthood -- and lived to tell about it." This is a relatively new blog but I really like their tone so far -- and loved their post on teaching girls to pee outdoors.
  13. Mama Joules blogs about science and kids, and much of her science involves the outdoors. I especially liked her post this summer on cricket ears. Which, apparently, are located on cricket knees. Who knew?
  14. Similarly, the Growing With Science Blog includes lots of hands-on nature study. See this post on nature journals, or their fun "bug of the week" series.
  15. Nature for Kids is a blog by two parents with three kids under the age of six. (How do they find the time?!) They have quite a few good posts for fun outdoor activities with young children. Recent activities have included shadow drawings, footprints, and "binoculars" made of toilet paper tubes
  16. Birdfreak (a bird conservation blog) has some excellent guides to taking kids birding.
That should keep you busy for a while! But who did we miss? Feel free to post more resources in the comments.

Like the photos in this post? Mouse over for credits; a click takes you to the photographer on Flickr.


Kelly Senser said...

Thanks for including National Wildlife Federation among this wonderful list of resources. (Some are new to this nature-loving mom--I'm excited to check them out!) FYI: Green Hour and Ranger Rick are both part of the national Be Out There campaign that NWF is launching this week: www.nwf.org/beoutthere.

Bethe said...

I actually was co-founder of Green Hour, so I feel like I made the list twice! Can't say enough good things about Nature Rocks -- lots of great, clever resources for parents. I think the best resource that any of us have is the front door. Just get out there!! Oh, and don't forget http://enature.com

Cheers- Bethe @balmeras

Victoria said...

Some great sites.....thanks!
Also check out www.naturebag.com for a fun bag of activities and tools for connecting with nature. (And it has been created with the environment in mind - it is eco-friendly!) My kids always ask for theirs before we head out on our adventures.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the great resources. Also check out www.hikingalongtrails.blogspot.com for some great resources on family friendly trails in the DC region. They are also leading a guided hike entitled "Why Are Trees Important?" for preschoolers and parents next Thursday, October 22nd at Scotts Run Nature Preserve in Great Falls.

mattandeliz said...

Thanks everybody for the adds to the list! Keep 'em coming!

momanddadcamping said...

Thanks for the great links. For more tips on family camping you can check out www.momanddadcamping.com. They have tips and stories for advanced and novice campers.

jublke said...

Thanks for including me in such a great list of links! I'll have to bookmark this page and start checking out the others. :)

Martial Arts said...

It is great idea to submerge kids into nature, Some kids now a days are not having fun in nature park, they rather choose to stay and play computer games, hope that this website can convinced kids to submerge in nature.

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