Summer: 8 Ways to Enjoy and Learn More About the Great Outdoors With Kids

Disclaimer: The U.S. Department of Education does not mandate or prescribe particular curricula or lesson plans. This information is provided for the visitor's convenience and is included here as an example of the many resources that parents and educators may find helpful and use at their option. See the full FREE disclaimer.

With summer in full swing, take advantage of the great outdoors and the great weather. It’s a time when you may want to get outside to appreciate nature and take an active adventure with your kids. Here are just some of the activities you can try during this season.

Habitat Exploration

Habitat exploration

1. Locate a park: Learn about the different parks in your area with the National Park Service (NPS) search engine. The search can be initiated by name, location, activity, or topic. You can also search parks by state.

Park Ranger with kids

Park Ranger with kids

2. Find events in a park: There are calendars available that outline the diversity of events offered at different community parks around the country. Localities across the country, for example, from Kentucky to California, have scheduled events, so consider checking out what’s available locally for you and the kids. Events can include movies in the park, free workout classes, like salsa dancing and judo, and environmental festivals.

Open road for a trip

Open road for a trip

3. Take a road trip: With parks located throughout the United States, there may be an opportunity to hop in the car and take a road trip to one. A road trip can be a great family adventure that focuses on the outdoors and a healthy lifestyle. As you get ready to hit the road, ask your kids if they remembered to buckle up and try to check out some of these ideas for ride activities, such as making a trip diary or playing a license-plate game (e.g., find different states), while you’re on the road.

4. Explore WebRangers online: Experience the National Parks and nature on a virtual landscape with the WebRangers website. Kids can explore the website and play activities that enhance their knowledge of U.S. history, nature, and science. Some games include virtually hiking the National Parks, delivering a message to Paul Revere during the Revolutionary War, and learning to read maps.

5. Become a Junior Ranger: The Junior Ranger program is geared towards children between the ages of 5 and 13. Following the motto “Explore, Learn, and Protect!” kids complete a series of exercises with Park Rangers during visits to select National Parks to earn their title as a Junior Ranger, an official badge, and a personal certificate. Online you can find booklets that contain information on various topics that include fossils, night skies, and underwater environments, and worksheets to help in your exploration of the wilderness.

Ranger patch

Ranger patch

6. Watch Sesame Street Explore the National Parks: You also can bring the wilderness to your home. The YouTube channel of the National Park Service contains a playlist just for children. The 4-5 minute videos combine the beauty of the National Parks with the characters of Sesame Street to bring the great outdoors to your couch. There are activities within each video, and they contain educational information on topics like animal habitats and the environment.

7. Sing Along with the Junior Ranger Radio: The Junior Ranger Radio plays tunes about the history of National Parks, prehistoric life through the discovery and study of fossils, and the habitat and characteristics of bison.

8. Learn about climate change: Informative videos, located on the National Park Service’s website, visually explain the melting glaciers and increased ocean temperature. In addition to the scientific explanations about climate change, there are experimental demonstrations with everyday household materials, such as ice cubes and plastic food storage containers, that can be re-created at home.

These are just a few ideas to help your kids have a fun-filled summer. Check out more ideas from FREE and enjoy the outdoors and related activities with your kids.

climate // outdoors // park // ranger // recreation // summer // July 31, 2014