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How to Turn Kids into Outdoor Explorers

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Hi Walkie Chalk fans - we have our great friend Denise Long here with a fantastic guest blog! Take it away, Denise!

Outdoor Explorers!

Kids are naturally curious about their surroundings, and the best way to engage that curiosity and their senses is to offer plenty of opportunities to explore. Experts know that exploring nature has a powerful, positive effect on the brain. It also teaches kids to cooperate with others and to think creatively. So invite them to venture outside and experience the natural world’s magic.

Backyard Activities

Take children on a scavenger hunt walk and ask them to find different objects. Give them a simple camera with which to snap pictures of, for example, a bird, a red leaf, a flowering bush, or a yellow car. Set up a water table, fill it with toys and water, and let your kiddo go to town. Or, add a sandbox and hide “treasures” for your explorer to discover. A simple swing hanging from a sturdy tree branch provides hours of entertainment, as well.

Set her up with a set of child-safe binoculars and a magnifying glass. Find an ant trail and put a little crumb of food next to the insects — then watch what happens. Collect flowers and press them between the pages of a heavy book to dry, then use them to make crafts.

Keep in mind that older kids love outdoor play, too. By the time kids reach age 5, they’re still very curious and observant about their world. That curiosity leads to critical thinking and greater understanding. Let them take the lead so they can make discoveries first.

Create a treasure hunt for older kids. You’ll need an end prize and a map with plenty of clues. You could put clues in bottles scattered around the yard or write them on a jigsaw and scatter the pieces. Use invisible ink for a real challenge, or incorporate the natural world and use natural markings such as arrows on trees or ones made with piles of rocks and sticks.

For an even more high-tech treasure hunt, try geocaching. All you need is a smartphone with a GPS app to start, but you can also purchase a GPS unit specifically designed for geocaching. Geocaching involves a set of coordinates which you follow to a cache of hidden treats. Currently, there are more than 1 million web-logged caches scattered throughout the world.

Give a kiddo supplies and they’ll create art. A bucket of sidewalk chalk is perfect for creating a hopscotch game, amazing sidewalk murals, or racecourse for RC cars. Go big with Walkie Chalk®, a supersized sidewalk chalk with a holder that extends up to 36 inches and accommodates standard square and round sidewalk chalk. This tool alleviates the need to bend or sit down on the ground to draw — it’s perfect for parents, grandparents, kids, and people with disabilities.

Swimming and Pool Safety

We are attracted to water — it makes us happier, healthier, and brings us peace. Ask any kid and he’ll tell you that water’s perfect for splashing, jumping, and swimming. But a mix of water and children can be deadly. Nearly 1,000 children drown each year, and it’s the second-leading cause of accidental death for people ages 5 to 24.

To keep young swimmers safe, teach them to follow the rules. Keep your phone and other distractions away when you’re watching a younger, inexperienced swimmer. Don’t rely on swimmies, pool noodles, or other non-life saving flotation devices to protect your kiddo. Stay in the water with your child or put him in a Coast Guard-approved life jacket — or do both. Have older kids use the buddy system. Also, get your child swimming lessons. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting lessons by age 4. Set and enforce pool rules, including no swimming without adult supervision, no running, no diving into the shallow end, no pushing people in, and no dunking.

You don’t need expensive supplies to create a world of magic. Blankets and deck furniture transform into castles. Gardens become homes to fairy creatures. Cardboard boxes transmogrify into spaceships. Give kids space to create and watch their imaginations soar.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

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