Wii Fit is great, but the summer months are approaching and it is time to rediscover your nearest park for a little fresh air and old fashioned games. Playing outdoors is more important than ever to incorporate into your kids’ weekly activities – it is fun and beneficial to your child’s health, as well as lays a foundation for your child to value a more active adulthood.
Below is a fun game I rediscovered over the weekend with my nieces – not only were they smiling with joy, but I was panting and out of breath chasing them, making me realize that I needed a little outdoor activity TLC.
Where Art Thou? (aka Scavenger Hunt)
# of Kiddies: 1+
Why?: Get back to mother nature and teach kids colors and a little about the environment.
What to Bring: A list of nature items. For younger children, use art or drawings to create the list.
Here is a short list to get you started:
- A worm
Fun fact: There are about 2 700 species (different kinds) of earthworms around the world. They are invertebrates, which means they don’t have backbones. Earthworms dig large burrows, which let water and air into the soil. As they burrow, the worms swallow soil and eat the plant matter that is in it. The soil they swallow passes though the worm’s body and is left in little piles on top of the ground. This is called castings and is excellent fertilizer (food for plants).
- A penny
Fun fact: The average penny lasts 25 years. It is made of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.
- 2 different types of grass
Fun Fact: Bamboo is actually a grass! Most animals cannot digest (cannot eat) grass. Animals that can eat grass are: pandas, cows, goats, sheep, camels, llamas, giraffes, buffalo, deer, wildebeest and antelope to name a few.
- Leaves from 3 different trees
Fun Fact: Like us humans, trees and plants needs to eat and grow. In fact, they like to eat sugar! A tree’s sugar is made with the help of the sun and a green chemical called chlorophyll. If the tree is eating, the leaves will be green. Spring and summer are when trees eat and grow the most because there is the most sun. In autumn, trees like to rest and have stored enough food away for the fall to stop growing. Since the tree is not eating and only sleeping in the fall, the green goes away, and the leaves turn red and purple, orange; yellow, and brown.
- Large rock
Fun Fact: Moss cannot have flowers
- Berry (Warn your children to not eat the berries, but rather inspect its color and texture, i.e. is it hard, soft?).
Fun Fact: The Native Americans were the first to introduce berries to their diets.
Fun Fact: a pinecone can weigh up to 10 pounds!
- Something plastic (Explain how it doesn’t belong in nature)
- Animal tracks (Draw them on paper after you find them)
- Nut or acorn
Fun Fact: Acorns come from Oak trees.
- Something red
- Feather (Have your children guess what type of bird the feather came from? Blue Bird, Seagull, Pigeon and more!)
- A gum wrapper
- Something that makes noise
- Something that fell out of a tree
- Something that begins with the first letter of your child’s name
- A garden tool
- A yellow flower or Dandelion
- A ball
- A white object
- A two pronged twig
- A snail
- A leaf with 3 tips
How to Play: Give the kids a printed list of nature items to find. The first player or team to report back with all of their items wins the prize (could be a healthy snack such as your child’s favorite fruit or even allowing the winner to pick the next game!). If your kid is lucky, mommy and daddy could even let the child pick:
a) Where he/she would like to eat that night for dinner
b) An educational program on the computer to play with for 20 minutes
c) A family board game to play at home that night
Note to Self: Since this game is obviously held outdoors, be sure to make a set of rules and guidelines for your kids. If you have more than 4 kids, set them up into teams, set a reasonable time limit and make sure to tell them to stay within the boundaries of the park where you can still see them as a chaperone. It’s always a good idea to pair up your kids and make a buddy system; young children can carry a cell phone with them. Everyone can be safe, learning and having fun!