Kids can learn an enormous amount from simple, short adventures away from the house. Exploring -- even without an agenda -- introduces them to new experiences and can provide valuable lessons about nature and history. It can also burn tons of that pent up summertime energy. Take an afternoon to explore, learn and make memories together.
1. Make an Adventure List
Adventure is all around you, and it's more accessible than you think. Even if you live in a larger city, state and national parks, national forests and historic landmarks are never far away. With a cooler lunch packed and a little planning, a couple of hours at one of these nearby sites -- walking trails, climbing rocks, seeing sights -- could cost less and be more fun than going to see a summer blockbuster.
2. Map it Out
Along with your list of places to go, find a state map (or a United States map if you're really ambitious) and use some yarn and tacks to make a web of all the places you went. You can build upon this map with a different color of string every summer. It will make a great keepsake, plus your kids will learn more about where they live and be able to find each place on the map.
3. Build a Bug Board
We know; it sounds gross but it doesn't have to be! Finding bugs is a perfect mission to give your kids on any trip outdoors. Looking for critters keeps them engaged with their surroundings -- paying attention to where they step, what's flying above or hanging onto the trees. Just carry a camera or phone along to snap a picture of the discovered bug for the board.
We admit that this is a little easier said than done. Try bringing a small mason jar without the lid or a clear plastic cup and a butterfly net to corral the bug. Then, set the bug free and use your supplies again for the next one.
At the end of the season, have the pictures printed and label them on the board or in an album. It's a great way to learn about the kind of bugs in your area without killing or adopting them as housemates.