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Outdoor Activity Ideas for Families
Steven Cleaver has some ideas for outdoor activities for families that will
chase your family’s blues away. Steven is the Executive Director of Horizons for
Youth, an organization in Massachusetts that has specialized in environmental
education for children for more than 60 years.
We asked Steven to share some outdoor learning activities and projects that
families can do together. Here’s what he told us:
Taking a hike is a great way to get outdoors and get some exercise. State parks
offer free trails to hike and many acres to explore. Activities such as scavenger
hunts can add a little more structure to the hike.
Gardening is a wonderful family activity. Not only can the whole family get
involved, but everyone can benefit from the harvest. Start with a family plan
for the garden. What will be in it? Try to include flowers, vegetables, and herbs
everyone likes. How big should it be?
Assign responsibilities to each family member. Who weeds? Who waters?
What’s the daily or weekly schedule? The garden can be a cooperative effort
where parents can emphasize teamwork and accountability.
These are great seasonal outdoor activities with immediate payoffs. Children get
to see how fruit grows and everyone gets to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
View the stars from your own backyard. Local newspapers often publish a
regional “sky watch” that you can use as your guide. Start with something
easily identifiable, like the “Big Dipper.” Consider going to a local planetarium
or observatory to learn about the night sky. Some colleges and universities
have observatories that are open to the public.
Go to a Nature Center
State Audubon societies have many sanctuaries and there are usually smaller
nature centers that offer family activities. Naturalists are on hand to answer
kids’ questions so parents don’t need to worry about teaching the subject
Participating in nature clean-ups or volunteering to do trail maintenance are
activities that teach kids that they have the ability to do something positive for the
environment and community. When parents get involved, they model responsible
environmental behavior that will help instill those values in their children.
Other Outdoor Family Ideas
Depending on the weather, consider biking, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing,
sledding, or birdwatching.
For other great ideas, try the activities in Joseph Cornell’s book, Sharing Nature