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10 Ways To Get Outside–Even After School Starts

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My friend Anne, from National Wildlife's Green Hour blog, asked if I would share these ten tips with all of you–on finding time to get outside with our children, even once the craziness of the school year starts. It is something that I believe is vital and important, so of course, I was happy to share them here. You can find the tips in their original location here on the Green Hour Blogwith live links, a few aren't working for me. Typepad is fussy.

And I would love to hear (and I'm sure Anne would too) the ways that you make time to get outside with your children, even once life gets busy. What are you favorite activities? Do you make time for a walk after dinner each night? Do you send them on a scavenger hunt? I'm sure we all have great ideas worth sharing.  It is amazing how easily children become engaged in the outside, natural world.

: BE OUT THERE : from NWF's Green Hour Blog :

Homework, soccer practice, ballet – is there time in the schedule to
play outside? Here are some tips to get a Green Hour — or at least
part of an hour – during a busy day:

1. Scenario: Traffic made you late, there's no time to cook
dinner, so you drive the family over to the rotisserie chicken place to
get a quick meal.

Tip: Keep a picnic blanket in your car for an impromptu picnic on any spot of grass you can find!

2. Scenario: Backpack? Check. Lunch? Check. You're ready to head to school.

Tip: Whether you drive or walk to school, or wait
with your child by the bus-stop, take a moment to notice nature. Make
it a game of "I Spy" — or download this nature scavenger hunt at greenhour.org/hunt.

3. Scenario: Your child is studying plants at school and, at
the dinner table, recites how photosynthesis works. You, yourself, have
never successfully kept a plant alive.

Tip: Start small: All you need is some bird-seed and a sponge. For sponge-garden instructions, visit greenhour.org/spongegarden. Next step: check out National Gardening Association’s parents’ primer for gardening with kids at kidsgardening.com/primer.asp.

3. Scenario: You and your youngest wait outside your older child's school, a few minutes before the bell rings.

Tip: Look up at the sky together. "Wait, mom — is
that a sheep or a donkey?" Picking out shapes in the clouds is a
classic childhood activity — and needs no special equipment.

4. Scenario: Your child looks at you and says, "Mom — I'm a little old for cloud-watching!"

Tip: For older kids, combine technology with the
outdoors and go geo-caching or, the lower-tech version, letterboxing.
There are about 20,000 letterboxes and 250,000 geocaches hidden in
North America. Visit geocaching.com and letterboxing.org.

5. Scenario: The kids get home from school and immediately
plop in front of the TV. You suggest going outside. They respond,
"Indoors is more fun!"

Tip #1: Set time-limits for TV watching and video
game playing. It won't be popular, so make sure you have a back-up
plan. If you have a backyard, kid-customize it with a homemade fort,
dart boards, a trampoline, a craft table. Set up a bird house to keep
wildlife visiting.

Tip #2: No backyard? Find your local parks using nwf.org/naturefind.
For older kids, start stretching your child's boundaries, allowing them
to go for unsupervised walks in the neighborhood with groups of
friends. They'll love the feeling of independence.

6. Scenario: Outside, it’s a perfect fall day, but you look
at your child’s homework assignments and realize outside play-time
isn’t a reality.

Tip: Take homework outside! There’s no reason math
problems can’t be done in the fresh air. Set up a clean outdoor
workspace for your child on a patio table, perhaps.

7. Scenario: Your daughter comes home from school clutching
new-found treasures: three crumbly leaves, two acorns and a
dirt-encrusted rock.

Tip: Instead of putting them on the kitchen
counter, a drawer, or — gasp — the trash, start a nature table. Set a
limit of how many items they can have in the "nature museum" — so
they'll keep it to a manageable number. Other ideas: use an old tackle
or sewing box, or a hanging shoe-organizer with clear plastic pockets.
Have your kids decorate it!

9. Scenario: A blank piece of paper in front of her, your daughter asks you, "What should I draw?"

Tip: Have your child make a map of your
neighborhood — using only natural landmarks. This will heighten his or
her observation skills and can be the first step in creating a "field
guide" to the nature in your neighborhood.

10. Scenario: It's 8 p.m. Dinner's over, but not quite time for bed.

Tip: Keep flashlights near the door, and go for a
neighborhood night hike. Kids will love the novelty — and you can
challenge them to identify "night sounds." Learn how to make a moon
journal at greenhour.org/moonjournal.

Anne Keisman is Be Out There Editor for the National Wildlife Federation. Follow her on Twitter: @GreenHour.

Logo_small

My friend Anne, from National Wildlife's Green Hour blog, asked if I would share these ten tips with all of you–on finding time to get outside with our children, even once the craziness of the school year starts. It is something that I believe is vital and important, so of course, I was happy to share them here. You can find the tips in their original location here on the Green Hour Blogwith live links, a few aren't working for me. Typepad is fussy.

And I would love to hear (and I'm sure Anne would too) the ways that you make time to get outside with your children, even once life gets busy. What are you favorite activities? Do you make time for a walk after dinner each night? Do you send them on a scavenger hunt? I'm sure we all have great ideas worth sharing.  It is amazing how easily children become engaged in the outside, natural world.

: BE OUT THERE : from NWF's Green Hour Blog :

Homework, soccer practice, ballet – is there time in the schedule to
play outside? Here are some tips to get a Green Hour — or at least
part of an hour – during a busy day:

1. Scenario: Traffic made you late, there's no time to cook
dinner, so you drive the family over to the rotisserie chicken place to
get a quick meal.

Tip: Keep a picnic blanket in your car for an impromptu picnic on any spot of grass you can find!

2. Scenario: Backpack? Check. Lunch? Check. You're ready to head to school.

Tip: Whether you drive or walk to school, or wait
with your child by the bus-stop, take a moment to notice nature. Make
it a game of "I Spy" — or download this nature scavenger hunt at greenhour.org/hunt.

3. Scenario: Your child is studying plants at school and, at
the dinner table, recites how photosynthesis works. You, yourself, have
never successfully kept a plant alive.

Tip: Start small: All you need is some bird-seed and a sponge. For sponge-garden instructions, visit greenhour.org/spongegarden. Next step: check out National Gardening Association’s parents’ primer for gardening with kids at kidsgardening.com/primer.asp.

3. Scenario: You and your youngest wait outside your older child's school, a few minutes before the bell rings.

Tip: Look up at the sky together. "Wait, mom — is
that a sheep or a donkey?" Picking out shapes in the clouds is a
classic childhood activity — and needs no special equipment.

4. Scenario: Your child looks at you and says, "Mom — I'm a little old for cloud-watching!"

Tip: For older kids, combine technology with the
outdoors and go geo-caching or, the lower-tech version, letterboxing.
There are about 20,000 letterboxes and 250,000 geocaches hidden in
North America. Visit geocaching.com and letterboxing.org.

5. Scenario: The kids get home from school and immediately
plop in front of the TV. You suggest going outside. They respond,
"Indoors is more fun!"

Tip #1: Set time-limits for TV watching and video
game playing. It won't be popular, so make sure you have a back-up
plan. If you have a backyard, kid-customize it with a homemade fort,
dart boards, a trampoline, a craft table. Set up a bird house to keep
wildlife visiting.

Tip #2: No backyard? Find your local parks using nwf.org/naturefind.
For older kids, start stretching your child's boundaries, allowing them
to go for unsupervised walks in the neighborhood with groups of
friends. They'll love the feeling of independence.

6. Scenario: Outside, it’s a perfect fall day, but you look
at your child’s homework assignments and realize outside play-time
isn’t a reality.

Tip: Take homework outside! There’s no reason math
problems can’t be done in the fresh air. Set up a clean outdoor
workspace for your child on a patio table, perhaps.

7. Scenario: Your daughter comes home from school clutching
new-found treasures: three crumbly leaves, two acorns and a
dirt-encrusted rock.

Tip: Instead of putting them on the kitchen
counter, a drawer, or — gasp — the trash, start a nature table. Set a
limit of how many items they can have in the "nature museum" — so
they'll keep it to a manageable number. Other ideas: use an old tackle
or sewing box, or a hanging shoe-organizer with clear plastic pockets.
Have your kids decorate it!

9. Scenario: A blank piece of paper in front of her, your daughter asks you, "What should I draw?"

Tip: Have your child make a map of your
neighborhood — using only natural landmarks. This will heighten his or
her observation skills and can be the first step in creating a "field
guide" to the nature in your neighborhood.

10. Scenario: It's 8 p.m. Dinner's over, but not quite time for bed.

Tip: Keep flashlights near the door, and go for a
neighborhood night hike. Kids will love the novelty — and you can
challenge them to identify "night sounds." Learn how to make a moon
journal at greenhour.org/moonjournal.

Anne Keisman is Be Out There Editor for the National Wildlife Federation. Follow her on Twitter: @GreenHour.

12 comments on “10 Ways To Get Outside–Even After School Starts”

  1. Interestingly, we do all these things and more without even thinking about them. I’ve always brought my kids up to observe nature, and to admire the beauty all around them. When we’d walk to school we would see all kinds of things that we would stop and enjoy (we’ve even rescued a few animals along the way). Even now when we catch the bus (different house) I take them up 10 minutes earlier (even in the snow-especially in the snow) so they can have a bit of time in the outdoors before going to school. Their reward for getting through their homework is to go outside (even on nights we have activities) and my oldest (15) comes home, and takes the dog out for a play-it’s his chill time. And while the word “hike” will get some groans, we’re all happy to be outside, to discover nature. I don’t think there’s a much greater gift you can give your kids than to have them enjoy and be inspired by nature.

  2. My lads love to play on the front porch while I’m getting dinner together or even to play in the back garden where they can get their own after school snacks (cherry tomatoes and green beans).

    We also like to keep our eyes on the bird feeder (and ears open for their songs).

    Our family joined a CSA this year, and we all go out into the fields (even if it’s only for 10 minutes or raining – you never know when you might spot a rainbow) to pick flowers or herbs together. ~H

  3. one thing I love about going to a neighborhood school is walking to (most days) and from (every day) school. We notice the changing seasons, hunt for big acorns. It is a nice decompression time between school and home, too.

  4. We do a lot of these things too and I agree with Melissa about walking to and from school. The urchins know where they might see a crane (in the pond), or the cat-tails (by the creek), or the lizard (sunning on a rock wall in a certain yard) and look for these things every day. They also look for the honeysuckle to bloom, the acorns to fall, and the leaves to change which helps them recognize the changing seasons. We also do homework outside sometimes too.

  5. this is a great post, i liked how she set it up as a ‘scenario and tip’. i do think she should have titled it: 10 Ways To Get Outside–Even MORE SO After School Starts

    i am going to put those flash lights by the door for tonight

    thanksi will link to this post.

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