Exploring the great outdoors

Exploring the great outdoors

With the popularity of electronics growing every day, it can be a challenge to get your children outdoors and into nature. To make the most of what is left of the summer weather, you should get out to explore the beauty that Ireland has to offer. So how do you get your whole family to experience some fresh air and enjoy the sunshine? Here are 11 ways to do just that.

1. Colourful scavenger hunt

Take your child’s eye off technology and onto some nature. With a piece of paper and some crayons, create boxes with different colours for a guide. Once you see an animal or plant with the same colour, you can make a little checkmark in the box.

Make it a competition to see who can get the most boxes ticked on a certain outing or save one for each occasion to spread across the summer.

2. Family camping

There’s no better way to have your kids experience the outdoors than a night under the stars. Pack up some treats for the campfire and a few songs as well for some great memories. If they aren’t ready for the wilderness, try hosting it in your backyard. This way they can have the security of being somewhere they know but still getting outdoors.

3. Geocaching

Have a little nature, a little technology and a lot of fun with geocaching. Ireland has 9,824 geocaches across the island so there is a good chance one is close to you. Create a free membership, choose one from the list and get to tracking. Once you find the logbook for you geocache, sign your names, take a photo for the memories and put it back.

4. Rock collection

After a family walk, your child may have picked up a rock or two along the way. Instead of throwing them into the grass, set up a table outside to showcase these rocks.

You can make it a goal every time you go out to find a rock different from the rest. If you want to include some arts and crafts to the collection, paint faces or drawings to add some colour.

5. Plant a garden

Teach kids about plants, nutrition, the cycle of life and other lessons with a garden. You can decide what to grow together after you find a space. Pick up a few seeds at your local market and some cute signs to mark the different types. You can start with a small amount and expand it as your love for it grows along with your expertise. Allow your kids to water them each day and watch as the plants go from seeds, to sprouts, to full bloom.

6. Make art with nature

Make a keepsake or two to remember your time in the outdoors with this simple craft. Pick up some flowers of different colour, shape and size to press them.

Once you get home, place them in between two pieces of wax paper sheets. Press the sheets by placing them in a big book and wait a few minutes. After that time, open your book to see your nicely preserved creation.

7. Build a fort

Let their imagination run wild as your kids build a fort. Provide them with some long branches, old sheets, unused cardboard boxes or any material you can find around the house.

You should try not to restrict them with instructions but be sure to check in on them along the way for faults in the structure.

8. Cloud watching

Look to the sky for a fun art project. Find shapes and figures in the fluffy clouds and sketch them out in different colours or just an outline. Frame them for the walls or put them on the fridge as a reminder to get outdoors each and every day.

9. Puddle jumping

Not every day can be full of sunshine but don’t let that stop your family from getting outside. Rainy days are a great time to put your child’s rain boots to good use and explore puddles. Be sure to have a towel or two handy for when the dancing and splashing stops.

10. Create a nature notebook

Put those unused notebooks to good use with a nature notebook for the family. Have your children use different things from nature to decorate it such as flowers or leaves.

Tell them to keep track of all your outdoor fun by writing down stories of your adventures or drawings of what they found. Make a list at the beginning of the book with all the things your family wishes to do over the summer and check them off as you go.

11. Pass on your childhood games

Be a great role model for your kids and reminisce on good times. Teach them things like skipping stones or how to play games that you invented. Not only is this a good way to get all of you moving but it may just create a tradition for them to pass on to their kids.