Parks are not only some of the very best playgrounds, but also amazing classrooms. By observing, touching, smelling and hearing the natural world, kids (and adults!) are learning, sometimes without even knowing it.
Our educators love taking the parks to communities, showing kids and their adults that nature is wherever they are. Through the Elsie and Henry Hillman Summer Program, Buzzword events, and events at the Frick Environmental Center, we're working with partners and getting kids active, learning, and jazzed about the outdoors.
Want your kids to stay curious? Read on for some of our favorite family friendly activities that you can do on a walk through your neighborhood, a hike through the park -- anywhere!
1. Keep Your Head in the Clouds
Is that a bird? A plane? What about a big fluffy marshmallow? Find a nice comfy spot on the grass, look up, and let your imagination do its thing.
2. I Spy with My Little Eye...
Nature! Keep your eyes peeled in your backyard or sitting on a park bench when you play "I Spy," and you'll be surprised at all that you see.
3. Match Swatches
With just a few color swatches from a hardware or paint store, you're ready for a color scavenger hunt. Let the kids match colors from the swatches with those they find in a garden or even in a business district. The greater the variety of colors, the bigger the challenge.
4. Make Words Jump off the Page
Kids and parents had a blast bringing books to life on Raising Readers and Nature in Your Neighborhood hikes. After reading aloud books with outdoor themes, they took a walk to spot (and reinforce) what they read. Some fan favorites are Something Beautiful, Tree Pittsburgh's If We Were to Plant a Tree, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
5. Pack a Lunch
The ingredients for the perfect picnic are simple: One large blanket or sheet; one basket of sandwiches, drinks, and fruit; and whoever wants to eat! Picking a spot is easy -- grab the best patch of grass you can find, then sit on it.
The limit to the number of projects that can be done with a little glue, paint, construction paper, and objects found on a hike is imagination. Paint a rock like a rockstar, make a daisy chain crown, or draw a picture of something you see in the parks.
7. Be a Good Helper
We all love to live and play in places that are beautiful. Your little ones can have a hand in making their favorite playground even better by being a good helper and cleaning up litter. Who knows, maybe this will even inspire them to clean their rooms!
8. Bug Out with Entymology
Creepy crawlies aren't so creepy crawly when we give them a closer look. How many insects can kids find on a walk through the woods? Sweep insects into a net or a bug jar to get a closer look before setting them free.
9. Rain, Rain, Go and Play
Whatever the weather, there's fun to be had outside. In fact, rainy days are sometimes extra special. Galoshes? Umbrellas? Mud puddles to jump into? Count us in!
Have more suggested outdoors adventures for kids? Leave them in the comments section below!