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Adventure/Outdoors Community Service Environmental Hiking Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Nature Programs Play/Outdoor

Outdoor Activities for Earth Day

Getting outside is healthy for the body and the mind. This Earth Day, why not get the whole family outdoors for some memorable adventures?

By Wendy Chou

Research has shown that getting outside keeps kids moving, lowering the risk of childhood obesity. Another health benefit from being out and about: added Vitamin D, which strengthens bones and is thought to help the immune system fight off infection. Some health experts say that spending time outdoors also relieves some symptoms of hyperactivity, including short attention span.

Every year since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22. It was originally created to bring attention to environmental goals like cleaner air and water. Today Earth Day reminds us to step out into nature. Try these kid-approved outdoor activities highlighting science, crafts, sports, and helping the community. Find these activities and many more in The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer, an excellent user-friendly guide for kindling the adventurous spirit in all of us.

Little Scientists

Go outside at an unusual time: nighttime! Go stargazing or take a walk to admire the moon. Visit kidsastronomy.com for tips.

Start a compost pile from kitchen scraps and yard trimmings. If your family has a garden, generating your own rich compost (so-called “black gold”) is not only fun, but also useful. It’s also a great tool for teaching kids about nature’s version of recycling. Tips for beginners.  

Watch a sunset. Watching colors change can inspire a lifelong appreciation for the environment. Find details on specific sunrise and sunset times at timeanddate.com

Arts and Crafts Lovers

Paint a birdhouse. Using a more natural palette such as gray, dull green, brown, or tan will help keep birds safe from eagle-eyed predators. And steer clear of metallic, iridescent, lead-based, or neon-colored paints which contain additives that are unsafe for wildlife.

Play “Nature bingo”. This game is a variation on a scavenger hunt. Create a bingo card for each player on sturdy paper or cardboard. You’ll need 16 assorted images arranged in a 4 x 4 grid: either paste on stickers, or draw/clip out pictures from magazines. Some examples are ladybug, leaf, flower, bird. After you design the bingo cards, have a blast exploring nature and looking for your items.

Make a nature mosaic. For this textured craft, first gather small items of roughly the same shape and size, like small pebbles, dried flower petals, or seeds. Take a paper plate and draw your desired shape with pen or pencil (for instance, outline your handprint). Working with one small section at a time, add a thin layer of glue and press the objects down to secure them. (If you apply glue over too large an area at once, it will dry before you’ve finished pasting.) Let dry and it’s done!

Love being in nature? Find outdoor kids’ camps with ActivityHero!

Ready, Set, Move!

Roll down a grassy hill. Who doesn’t love doing this on a sunny day?

Go for a bike ride. There’s nothing quite like coasting along on the open road. Safety first: study the biker’s checklist before you head out!

Make homemade trail mix and take it on a hike.

Try geocaching, a modern take on treasure hunting. This activity relies on GPS technology to hide or find caches. To get started, check out geocaching.com.  

Community-Minded

Join a volunteer event. Find an organization near you (check your city or county listings) that is sponsoring an Earth Day event, such as a river cleanup or tree planting.

Visit a farmers’ market. You’ll find fresher fruits and vegetables here with less wasteful plastic packaging. People selling their wares often enjoy telling you where and how they grew their food –and sometimes let you try a sample for free.

Beautify your neighborhood. Clean up trash, prune or weed a garden, or do some other type of community service to show your appreciation for Mother Earth.

Be Adventurous Beyond Earth Day

Save the date for Kids to Parks Day, an annual event to encourage youth to get out and play in nature. Learn more: https://www.parktrust.org/kids-to-parks-day/. Getting outside isn’t just something to do on Earth Day!

Find summer camps featuring the outdoors. Camp is a great way to spend time outside. Emily Moeschler has over ten years of experience in adventure education and the outdoor industries. She is currently a leader at Avid4Adventure Camp in Boulder, CO. Her top tip: “Give your kids permission to get dirty!”

Be inspired. Have your own brainstorming session to come up with even more outdoor activities. There’s really no “right” way to explore, just get outside and have fun!

Love being in nature? Find outdoor kids’ camps with ActivityHero!

About Wendy Chou

Wendy Chou is an environment writer and parent based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Adventure/Outdoors Play/Outdoor

Where to Dig for Buried Treasure in the United States

Little boy wearing pirate costumeWhat kid doesn’t dream about becoming a pirate and digging up buried treasure to fill their chest? You may not be able to sail the bounding seas on your summer vacation, but you and your kids can enjoy nature while digging for buried treasure across the U.S. From gold and gems to actual dinosaur fossils, if it fascinates your kids, there’s a spot where they can discover it. These top-notch treasure spots are guaranteed to give your kids a great time and might even provide a valuable piece of treasure for a souvenir.

Hiddenite, North Carolina

Nestled in the hills of North Carolina, the Emerald Hollow Mine is the destination for thousands of gems seekers each year. Set in one of the most interesting geological areas in the country, Emerald Hollow Mine has produced dozens of types of gems, including amethyst, topaz, sapphires and valuable green emeralds. Your little treasure hunters might happen upon one of the 63 different types of gems that have been found here and they can turn any of their finds into cut stones or jewelry with the onsite lapidary shop.

Murfreesboro, Arkansas

geography for kids
photo by Flickr user artstreamstudios

In Crater of Diamonds State Park, diamonds can be found literally sitting on top of the soil, ready for treasure hunting kids to pick up. Sitting on top of an ancient volcano field, this diamond field produces already-smoothed stones in white, brown, and yellow colors. There are three different diamond-searching methods used here:

  1. Walk the fields and, using a sharp eye, find stones laying on top of the soil
  2. Dig shallow areas and sift the soil, digging through resulting gravel by hand
  3. Dig deep holes, concentrating the resulting soil into a likely gravel mix

The first method is obviously the simplest, and has actually produced gemstone-sized diamonds for lucky visitors. Bring your own tools or rent them at the park. Rangers are prepared to identify diamonds from your pile of rocks, but leave the valuation up to your local jeweler.

Deming, New Mexico

In the desert lands of Rock Hound State Park, thousands of people have found geodes, also known as thunder eggs. These stones just look like plain rocks when you pick them up, but once you crack them open the insides show off lovely crystals in amethyst, hematite, or rose quartz. Make this treasure hunting outing a part of your camping or RV trip in the Western part of the country. Geodes can be found in washed-out piles of rocks or lying against wind-swept hills. Bring along small hammers to tap the rocks open to discover what’s inside the best of them.

Devil Hills, South Dakota

The Badlands region of South Dakota is prime dinosaur-fossil hunting land. Kids who are dino-lovers will eagerly spend their days sifting through piles of rock and soil just to find a hint of dinosaur history. Gigantic pieces of bone from over 145 million years ago have been discovered here, and young hunters have had as much luck as older, more experienced explorers. If you find fossils in this area you have to report them to the authorities and leave them where you found them, but pictures with the fossil make a great souvenir. Besides, how many kids can brag about personally discovering their own dinosaur and have the pictures to prove it?

Central Florida Coast

Photo by Flickr user  David Dawson Photography
Photo by Flickr user David Dawson Photography

11 Spanish galleons sunk off the Florida coast in 1715, dropping tons of gold coins, jewels, and other relics into the sea. The ocean waves have been washing this treasure up for the past 300 years onto the beaches between Cape Canaveral and Stuart. People have been finding treasure almost daily, even today, and the finds are so simple they’re great for kids to work on. Look on the high tide line, especially after a thunderstorm creates big waves and on the sand that’s still damp from the tide going out. Treasure has been found by looking with the naked eye but you may want to invest in a simple metal detector to find treasure buried in the sand. The entire eastern coast of central Florida provides abundant lodging for visitors so pick a small town for your best bet and look for your very own pirate treasure.

When you go treasure hunting with your kids, you’ll build memories and give them experiences none of their friends will ever have.

 

Categories
After-School Activities Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

10 Awesome Green Outdoor Activities for Kids

10 Awesome Outdoor Green Activities for Kids
photo by Flickr user Gypsy Forest

Our children are our future. The world will soon be in their hands.

Show them the importance of caring for their environment, recycling, and appreciating the luxuries of everyday life with these ten exciting green outdoor activities for kids.

Make a compost pile.

Did you know about 30% of the waste in landfills across the country is yard and food waste that could be used for composting?

A compost pile is a way for kids to watch nature recycle itself in action!

According to the EPA, the average American generates about 4.9 pounds of trash every single day—that’s over 1700 pounds per year! If every person turned their natural waste into compost, it would eliminate almost 500 pounds of garbage from going to the landfill! This project will encourage your kids to think twice about wasting their sandwich crusts or uneaten vegetables. Follow the step-by-step instructions on how to turn your trash into treasure.

10 Awesome Green Outdoor Activities for Kids
photo by Flickr user Daniel Magner

Start a worm farm.

Worms are basically nature’s way of recycling.

They munch on dead leaves and grass clippings and create pathways in the soil for plants to grow and breathe.

Not only are worms fun to watch squiggle and wiggle about, but I bet your kids didn’t know what a huge role they play in the environment. Making a worm farm is fairly easy and low maintenance; they are just about the easiest pet to have.

When you’re finished with the worm farm, you can set them free in a garden or compost area and watch them thrive in their natural environment! A worm farm is a great way to teach the responsibility of being in charge of another living thing—practice for a future pet perhaps? Follow the simple instructions here.

Plant a garden.

Kids love seeing the watch magical process of how food is grown and how much work goes into it.

They are also more willing to eat their vegetables if they’ve seen where they come from and put forth the effort into tending to them!

Have your kids to pick out plants or seeds of fruits and vegetables the like, and encourage them to pick out something they’ve never tried before like zucchini or sugar snap peas.

10 Awesome Outdoor Green Activities for Kids
photo by Flickr user Trey Pitsenberger

Recycled arts & crafts.

From toilet paper tube teddies to broken button bottle banks, just about everything old can be made into something new.

All you’ll need is some clean recyclable waste—such as Kleenex boxes, paper towel rolls, empty soda bottles, or plastic cutlery—and some craft supplies like glue, string, ribbon, etc. Turn empty baby food jars into memory jars, brown paper bags into puppets, and old tin cans into wind chimes.

Find a list of great recycled crafts. Once your crafts have run their course, snap a digital picture of them and place them back into the recycling bin to keep the use cycle in motion.

Make recycled paper.

A great project to show kids how much effort goes into making a single piece of paper. Perhaps they’ll think before wasting too many sheets next time!

All it takes is some old newspaper, water, and a few other supplies to make a brand new sheet of paper from old newspaper. Kids will need the supervision of an adult for this project as it requires the use of a blender. Follow the instructions here.

Make reusable grocery bags.

Teach your child how something seemingly small can make a world of difference.

It’s a widely known fact that most plastic grocery bags end up right in the trash, only a small amount are actually recycled. Paper bags aren’t much better and use even more energy to create and transport than plastic ones.

You’ll need a sewing machine for this project as hand stitching won’t quite hold up to the weight of the groceries. Gather a few pillow cases and as much “old” fabric as you can. All you’ll need is a couple of straps to stitch on and you’ve got yourself a bag!

Kids can decorate their reusable grocery bags with pieces of fabric or use fabric markers to personalize them.

Create a backyard habitat for neighborhood animals.

With expansion and construction on the rise, many animals’ habitats are being threatened or eliminated. Have you child help you create a welcoming environment for local wildlife and enjoy the views of butterflies, birds, and small mammals.

Set up a bird bath to attract a variety of local birds, plant local flowers and trees, and set out a few bird and bat houses and the will find its way! Kids will love watching the joyful wildlife enjoying the gifts they’ve provided them!

Go for a nature hike.

A growing number of kids spend most of their time indoors, and many don’t even make it a point to go outside every day.

Encourage your kids to explore the wide world around them and appreciate all the beauty that nature has to offer!

Visit a nature preserve in your area and take a long walk. What colors, animals, and plants do they see that they don’t see at home?

(Almost) zero carbon footprint day.

Pick one day to be the greenest family on the block!

When children see their parents setting an example and getting involved in a cause they are more likely want to get involved themselves. Spend the day biking to the grocery store, shutting all lights off before leaving the room, and conserving as much water as possible.

Kids will learn to appreciate everyday luxuries that are often taken for granted.

Make a milk carton bird feeder.

Your kids will enjoy watching the local birds flock to their backyard and enjoy a tasty treat!

Cut a hole in the side of the carton big enough for birds to come and go about 2 to 4 inches from the bottom of the carton. Cut a small hole below to add a dowel rod below the hole for birds to perch. Cut 2 holes in the top of the carton and thread twine through to hang from a tree.

Finally, using a pin, poke several holes in the bottom of the carton to promote moisture drainage as soggy bird feeders can cause illnesses in birds. Fill with a wild bird feed and watch the birds flock to your snack station.

10 Awesome Green Outdoor Activities for Kids

Written by Sarah Antrim

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Categories
After-School Activities Parenting Resources

10 Awesome Green Activities for Kids

Our children are our future. The world will soon be in their hands. Show them the importance of caring for their environment, recycling, and appreciating the luxuries of everyday life with these green activities.

1. Make a compost pile. A compost pile is a way for kids to watch nature recycle itself in action! Natural waste, such as grass clippings and table scraps, is slowly broken down to make new soil that many farmers and gardeners consider the golden ticket to a thriving crop. Did you know about 30% of the waste in landfills across the country is yard and food waste that could be used for composting? According to the Clean Air Council, the average American generates about 4.5 pounds of trash every single day—that’s over 1600 pounds per year! If every person turned their natural waste into compost, it would eliminate almost 500 pounds of garbage from going to the landfill! This project will encourage your kids to think twice about wasting their sandwich crusts or uneaten vegetables. Follow these step-by-step instructions on how to turn your trash into treasure.

2. Start a worm farm. Not only are worms fun to watch squiggle and wiggle about, but I bet your kids didn’t know what a huge role they play in the environment. Worms are basically nature’s way of recycling. They munch on dead leaves and grass clippings and create pathways in the soil for plants to grow and breathe. Making a worm farm is fairly easy and low maintenance; they are just about the easiest pet to have. When you’re finished with the worm farm, you can set them free in a garden or compost area and watch them thrive in their natural environment! A worm farm is a great way to teach the responsibility of being in charge of another living thing—practice for a future pet perhaps? Follow these simple instructions.

3.  Plant a garden. Kids are more willing to eat their vegetables if they’ve seen where they come from and put forth the effort into tending to them. Have your kids to pick out plants or seeds of fruits and vegetables the like, and encourage them to pick out something they’ve never tried before like zucchini or sugar snap peas. Kids will see the watch magical process of how food is grown and how much work goes into it!

4.  Recycled arts & crafts. From toilet paper tube teddies to broken button bottle banks, just about everything old can be made into something new. All you’ll need is some clean recyclable waste—such as Kleenex boxes, paper towel rolls, empty soda bottles, or plastic cutlery—and some craft supplies like glue, string, ribbon, etc. Turn empty baby food jars into memory jars, brown paper bags into puppets, and old tin cans into wind chimes. Find a list of great recycled crafts at favecrafts.com. Once your crafts have run their course, snap a digital picture of them and place them back into the recycling bin to keep the use cycle in motion.

5.  Make recycled paper. A great project to show kids how much effort goes into making a single piece of paper. Perhaps they’ll think before wasting too many sheets next time! All it takes is some old newspaper, water, and a few other supplies to make a brand new sheet of paper from old newspaper. Kids will need the supervision of an adult for this project as it requires the use of a blender. Follow the instructions at childrenoftheearth.org.

6.  Make reusable grocery bags. It’s a widely known fact that most plastic grocery bags end up right in the trash; only a small amount are actually recycled. Paper bags aren’t much better and use even more energy to create and transport than plastic ones. Teach your child how something seemingly small can make a world of difference. You’ll need a sewing machine for this project as hand stitching won’t quite hold up to the weight of the groceries. Gather a few pillow cases and as much “old” fabric as you can. All you’ll need is a couple of straps to stitch on and you’ve got yourself a bag! Kids can decorate their reusable grocery bags with pieces of fabric or use fabric markers to personalize them.

7.  Create a backyard habitat for neighborhood animals. With expansion and construction on the rise, many animals’ habitats are being threatened or eliminated. Have you child help you create a welcoming environment for local wildlife and enjoy the views of butterflies, birds, and small mammals. Set up a bird bath to attract a variety of local birds, plant local flowers and trees, and set out a few bird and bat houses and the will find its way! Kids will love watching the joyful wildlife enjoying the gifts they’ve provided them!

8.  Go for a nature hike. A growing number of kids spend most of their time indoors, and many don’t even make it a point to go outside every day. Encourage your kids to explore the wide world around them and appreciate all the beauty that nature has to offer! Visit a nature preserve in your area and take a long walk. What colors, animals, and plants do they see that they don’t see at home?

9.  (Almost) zero carbon footprint day. Pick one day to be the greenest family on the block! When children see their parents setting an example and getting involved in a cause they are more likely want to get involved themselves. Spend the day biking to the grocery store, shutting all lights off before leaving the room, and conserving as much water as possible. Kids will learn to appreciate everyday luxuries that are often taken for granted.

10.  Make a milk carton bird feeder. Your kids will enjoy watching the local birds flock to their backyard and enjoy a tasty treat! Cut a hole in the side of the carton big enough for birds to come and go about 2 to 4 inches from the bottom of the carton. Cut a small hole below to add a dowel rod below the hole for birds to perch. Cut 2 holes in the top of the carton and thread twine through to hang from a tree. Finally, using a pin, poke several holes in the bottom of the carton to promote moisture drainage as soggy bird feeders can cause illnesses in birds. Fill with a wild bird feed and watch the birds flock to your snack station.

Sarah Antrim