Get Kids Outside To Learn All About Nature and Science

Posted on July 23, 2018

by April S

Kids are curious by nature. They love to explore and discover new things – especially about the natural world. Did you know playing outside can actually boost academic performance, improve sleep and increase happiness? The Child Mind Institute lists seven reasons it’s necessary for kids to spend time outdoors:

  1. It builds confidence.
  2. It promotes creativity and imagination.
  3. It teaches responsibility.
  4. It provides different stimulation.
  5. It gets kids moving.
  6. It makes them think.
  7. It reduces stress and fatigue.

Two of my favorite places to explore the great outdoors with my kids are Oak Openings Nature Preserve and The 577 Foundation.

Oak Openings is located between Whitehouse and Swanton – right past the Toledo Express Airport. It’s one of the largest nature preserves in the region with over 5,000 acres, which includes more than 50 miles of trails perfect for walking, running or biking. It’s also home to the greatest number of rare plants in the state of Ohio. My family loves the playground near Mallard Lake, the Window on Wildlife and the sand dunes. Pack food and water, because you’re definitely going to want to spend the day here.

The 577 Foundation is located in Perrysburg, but don’t drive too fast down East Front Street – it’s really easy to miss the turn. I’ll admit that I’ve only visited this unique destination a few times with my kids, but believe me it’s well worth a visit. We enjoyed exploring the grounds and discovering the many creative play areas set up for young children. When you hear your kid enthusiastically say – “look at this mom” or ask a bunch of questions – you know you made the right choice to visit a place. Before you leave, don’t forget to visit their book center for a wonderful selection of gently used books.

Even if you don’t have the time for an extended family outing – that’s okay. Spend time in the backyard or at a neighborhood park with your children. Nature is all around us, we just need to set aside a little time to appreciate it. After all, what could be more fun than spending time outdoors with your kids learning new things?

We hope you find inspiration with one or more of these amazing educational books.

Outdoor Learning Activities and Adventures

Educational Books for Parents and Teachers

Teaching STEM Outdoors: Activities for Young Children by Patty Born Selly

Teaching STEM Outdoors : Activities for Young Children by Patty Born Selly

Connect nature play, outdoor experiences, and STEM learning for young children with activities, real-life examples, and educator resources. Nurture young children’s innate tendencies toward exploration, sensory stimulation, and STEM learning when you connect outdoor learning and STEM curriculum. Discover the developmental benefits of outdoor learning and how the rich diversity of settings and materials of nature gives rise to questions and inquiry for deeper learning.

Full of activities, examples, and resources to take the fun of STEM outside, this book will help teachers articulate connections between nature play, outdoor experiences, and STEM learning in young children. Use STEM and nature-based learning to nurture children’s curiosity and exploration of the world. Also available in eBook.

15 Minutes Outside : 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids by Rebecca P. Cohen

15 Minutes Outside : 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids by Rebecca P. Cohen

Suggests family activities that require going outside every day of the year, from throwing a ball over the house and racing to see who reaches it first to mapping the changes in the night sky. Also available in eBook.

How to Raise a Wild Child : The Art and Science of Falling in Love With Nature by Scott D. Sampson

How to Raise a Wild Child : The Art and Science of Falling in Love With Nature by Scott D. Sampson

An easy-to-use guide for parents, teachers, and others looking to foster a strong connection between children and nature, complete with engaging activities, troubleshooting advice, and much more.

American children spend four to seven minutes a day playing outdoors—90 percent less time than their parents did. Yet recent research indicates that experiences in nature are essential for healthy growth. Regular exposure to nature can help relieve stress, depression and attention deficits. It can reduce bullying, combat illness and boost academic scores. Most critical of all, abundant time in nature seems to yield long-term benefits in kids’ cognitive, emotional and social development.

Yet teachers, parents, and other caregivers lack a basic understanding of how to engender a meaningful, lasting connection between children and the natural world. “How to Raise a Wild Child” offers a timely and engaging antidote, showing how kids’ connection to nature changes as they mature. Also available in eBook.

A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature by Asia Citro

A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature by Asia Citro

Dandelion Bubbles, Rain Drums, Seed Bomb Lollipops and more! Bursting with creative hands-on outdoor science and art activities, A Little Bit of Dirt is full of motivation to get outside and explore. Whether you’re investigating the health of your local stream, learning how birds fly, or concocting nature potions, you’ll be fostering an important connection with nature. The engaging activities encourage the use of the senses and imagination and are perfect for all ages. Discover more about the natural world waiting just outside your door! Also available in eBook.

Outdoor Science Lab for Kids : 52 Family-Friendly Experiments for the Yard, Garden, Playground and Park by Liz Lee Heinecke

Outdoor science lab for kids : 52 family-friendly experiments for the yard, garden, playground, and park / Liz Lee Heinecke

Learn physics, chemistry and biology in your own backyard!

At-home science provides an environment of freedom, creativity and invention that is not always possible in a school setting. It’s simple, inexpensive, and fun to whip up a number of amazing science experiments in your own backyard. Also available in eBook.

Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden by Renata Fossen Brown

Gardening Lab for Kids : 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden by Renata Fossen Brown

A refreshing source of ideas to help your children learn to grow their own garden, this book encourages families to enjoy nature. It features 52 fun and creative plant-related activities set into weekly lessons. Also available in eBook.

Families on Foot : Urban Hikes to Backyard Treks and National Park Adventures by Jennifer Pharr Davis and Brew Davis

Families on foot : urban hikes to backyard treks and national park adventures / Jennifer Pharr Davis and Brew Davis

Published in partnership with the American Hiking Society, “Families on Foot” offers practical advice and engaging activities to make hiking even more fun for families. You’ll find clever ideas and inspiration that apply to kids of all ages–from tackling diaper blowouts in the backcountry to using smartphone apps and GPS to engage teenagers with nature. Information for children with special needs and seniors also is included.

Learn More About the Importance of Outdoor Play for Children

The Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children – Live Strong

The Benefits of Outdoor Play – Fisher Price

6 Reasons Children Need to Play Outside – Harvard Health Blog

Why the Outdoor’s is the World’s Greatest Playground – National Geographic

Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature – Child Mind Institute

Find Even More Inspiration for Your Next Outdoor Learning Activity or Adventure with These Great eBooks
Chalk on the Wild Side : More than 25 chalk art projects, recipes, and creative activities for adults and children to explore by Lorie King Kaehler
Bug Lab for Kids : Family-Friendly Activities For Exploring The Amazing World Of Beetles, Butterflies, Spiders, And Other Arthropods by John W. Guyton
Learning Outdoors With The Meek Family by Tim Meek and Kerry Meek
Outdoor Play : Play in the EYFS by Sue Durant
Banish boredom : activities to do with kids that you'll actually enjoy / Rebecca Green
Nature Sparks : Connecting Children's Learning to the Natural World by Aerial Cross
Nature Preschools And Forest Kindergartens: The Handbook for Outdoor Learning by David Sobel
Outdoor Math : Fun Activities for Every Season by Emma AdBage
The Big Book Of Nature Activities : A Year-Round Guide To Outdoor Learning by Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman
Maker lab outdoors : 25 super cool projects : build, invent, create, discover / Jack Challoner

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