Monday, October 20, 2014

Geocaching and More! 3 Ways to Get the Kids Outside to Enjoy Nature

When we first moved to the mountains, I sort of pictured us living in The Sound of Music.  I thought my kids would scamper outside and pick leaves and twigs off the ground while singing a heart-warming tune.
The reality is that I have to drag the kids on hikes like a couple of teen-agers (even though they're 4 and 6).  They get tired, they get hungry, and they get bored.  My husband and I, on the other hand, love to hike and be outside, but we have found a few ways to get them to enjoy nature:
1.  Geocaching.  Have you ever heard of this?  It's basically like a free scavenger hunt, and you can do it anywhere in the world.  There are lots of ways to do it, but the best is to download the App from the popular site,  Then on your phone, you can "Find Nearby Geocaches" and it will show you all the treasures that have been hidden close to wherever you are.  You just use your phone to find the GPS coordinates and you will find a little box with hidden treasures!  The kids absolutely loved this.  They got to hold the phone and watch as our dot got closer to our treasure (It's very similar to using GPS for driving directions).  We eventually found the box (look where my hand is reaching, you can see a little box hidden inside the logs), and inside is a little notebook where you can record that you were there and found it, to really give the kids a sense of accomplishment.  Sometimes there are even little toys in them, so be sure to bring a few cheap pencils or bracelets so you can "get one and give one" to the cache community.  The best part about this???  It's free!!  (Other than the $10 app)
2.  Scavenger Hunt.  I made up a simple page and printed them out for each kid.  I gave them clipboards and pens and they had so much fun searching for all the things on the page.  I used Microsoft Word Clip Art and found photos of everything for their hunt.
3.  Lastly, our latest obsession is Dino Dan.  Dinosaurs are fascinating to them, so one hike we livened things up by pretending we were finding dinosaur teeth, bones, etc.  Every time they found one, we would exclaim how exciting it was that they found a T-Rex tooth!  We let them bring little bags to collect their treasures and it was even a little educational.
I hope you and your family can enjoy some of these fun outdoor adventures too!
For more ideas on engaging your children and keeping them busy, please consider buying my book, co-written by an amazing Kindergarten Teacher! The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.  
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