Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Education Opportunities--Keep those Kids Outside!

Hey folks!

I hope everyone is ready to jump into summer! My daughter turns 6 months old this weekend and her daycare asked if I had a swimsuit to bring so she could enjoy the kiddie pool! I can't believe it! I think I've mentioned this before, but one of the reasons I love her daycare is because they take the kids outside ALL THE TIME! As long as it's not raining, they go out.

If you're looking for things to do with kids this summer, here are a few suggestions:
  • Look to your local, county and state parks. Many, if not most, offer summer day camps for weeks at a time. It's a great way to keep your kids occupied and out from in front of the computer or television. And many of them are wildlife-themed, which obviously we encourage. :-)
  • You can also check out your local zoos. All of the 5 Ohio zoos have summer camps for kids of all ages.
  • Check out your local arboretums, plant conservatories, and science museums for similar offerings.
  • Setting up play areas in your backyard where your kids can dig, plant, and dig some more can go a long way towards keeping them occupied and interested in the outdoors. Allowing them to build forts and tree houses, supervised of course, gives kids a place to hang out in nature on their own.
  • Helping them create a nature journal by taking a few pieces of paper, folding them in half and wrapping a string through the middle for binding, is an easy way to give them a creative outlet for writing and drawing outside. And best of all, they don't have to worry about it being graded!
  • Using a similar technique as the above journal, have your kids make a backyard field guide of all the plants and animals they find, either by drawing or collecting plants and drawing animals or signs of animals that they might find. You all might be surprised by what lives there. If you need help identifying some of the critters, check out the A to Z Species Guide on our Web site.
  • Camping in the backyard is a great experience for kids. All you need is a small, inexpensive tent, a pillow and some blankets, and a flash light and you've got the makings of an outdoor adventure. Hearing the sounds of the backyard at night opens up a whole new world to kids. If you're really adventurous, you can invite the neighborhood kids and have a big group camp out.
  • Fishing is an excellent way for kids to explore the outdoors. And it's free for kids under 16. Depending on the age of the child, plan on having other things to do if the fish aren't biting. Bring along some collecting boxes and small nets for insect collecting. Check out our Web site for good places to fish near you.

Outdoor exploration opportunities are endless in the summertime! Whether it's something as simple as splashing through the local creek or taking a canoe trip, kids love the opportunity to explore the outdoors. You're limited only by your imagination.

Please feel free to post any other suggestions you may have. Or if you know of any local events this summer, feel free to post them here.

In the meantime, GET OUTDOORS!!