Summer is here, and as parents we want our kids to get outside and play! Often kids these days just want to watch YouTube or play games on devices all day. There is a compromise though! There are so many apps that kids can use to HELP them explore the outdoors! Using some augmented reality features and other types of apps kids can discover so many things about even just your small neighborhood that will keep them entertained for days!
Getting excited about astronomy has never been easier. These apps will allow you to point your phone to the sky and identify the constellations that you are currently looking at. Not only that, but the app will give you a lot of facts and details about the constellation, the planets, and stars you are able to see right in your own backyard! (iOS, Android)
Curious minds are always asking why, and what's that. With these kinds of apps you can snap a picture of a particular plant and get information about the plant. I love combining something like these apps with a paper notebook or a digital notebook like OneNote. The children can write about the plant, where they saw it, and details about the environment, just like a real life field journal. (iOS, Android)
This is along the same lines as the plant identification, but birding is a real thing and can become extremely addictive (in a good way). Getting the kids to try and see as many different types of birds throughout the summer would be a great way to get the kids to compete for a grand prize at the end of the summer for the most birds! Within the app there is a section to record sightings of various birds so you can keep track. (iOS, Android)
A list like this just is not complete without mentioning Pokemon Go. Never before has a video game gotten such a widely diverse group of people out of the house and interacting! Last summer you could not go anywhere without seeing people playing the game. You basically take the concept of birding and insert digital animals throughout the world to locate, and voila a cultural phenomenon is born! The game really is a lot of fun, and with the weather turning nice again, I'm sure we'll see a lot more Pokemon Go playing at nearby parks again. (iOS, Android)
While the concept of Geocaching has been around for quite some time, it's been made much easier now that we carry GPS devices with us at all times. In the past, you would have to own a specific GPS device in order to play. It basically feels like a treasure hunt. You locate a small box with hidden treasures in it. You can leave the treasure for the next person inside or just mark that you found it within the app. Who doesn't love a good treasure hunt?? (iOS, Android)
So, time to install these apps on your kids devices and kick them out of the house for the day! The fresh air will definitely do them some good.