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Outdoor Adventures Fuel Fun and Learning

06/27/2016 10:45AM ● Published by Hood Magazine

By Kylee Breems, Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History 


With spring just around the corner, many families are spending more time outside. Playing together outside is not only fun, it also helps connect children with nature and animals. Studies have shown that encounters with the outdoors and animals have many positive effects, including increasing a child’s empathy and understanding of the natural world, and nurturing creative thinking skills. Outdoor exploration also promotes a sense of community and encourages children to care about the environment, planting the seeds for a lifelong interest in conservation.


Despite all the valuable benefits of nature play, recent studies show that children are spending more time indoors and less time connecting with the world around them. A survey conducted by the Outdoor Foundation found that youth participation in outdoor activities has declined every year since 2006. The survey also found that 41% of people ages 6 - 24 have not participated in any outdoor activity in the previous 12 months.

Here are a few tips to ignite and inspire your family’s outdoor play:

  • Explore together as a family! Let your kids lead the discovery and investigate the sticks, leaves, or rocks they find interesting.
  • Give your neighborhood walks a goal. Before you set out, choose something to search for, like three different kinds of birds, or five pretty leaves.
  • A drive after dark can be fun! Encourage your child to watch the moon and stars. You can even head out into the country to look up at the sky as a family. 
  • Help the planet while you play! Take a grocery bag when you head to the park or playground and make a game out of collecting scattered wrappers and other litter. 
Education, Family, In Print, Today, Community nature education