With the sun high in the sky and the grandkids home from school for the summer, now is the time to explore the outdoors with family and friends. From nature hikes to leisurely wildlife puzzles and activities, plenty of options await the adventurous grandparent eager to teach young grandkids about the world. Regardless of the weather, we hope you’ll find something on this list that will entertain you and your grandkids this summer.
Backyard Bug Hunt
Kids love collecting toys and knick-knacks, so it’s not surprising to know that many of them also enjoy finding bugs. Between earthworms, roly-polies, ants, beetles, and preferably-avoided critters such as bees and spiders, there are plenty of valuable lessons to be learnt when seeking out creepy crawlies. Take along a clipboard and a piece of paper. Draw a few creatures that you might easily find around the backyard, and leave room for tally marks so that your grandkids can count how many they find. Let the kids count each one and, if they’re up for it, compete to see who can find the most bugs. Experiential learning at its finest.
Playing in the mud has never seemed like much of an educational opportunity, until now. Next time you’re outside with your grandkids, take along a clear bowl or jar and let them fill it with mud, dirt, grass, twigs, and plenty of water. Once the soil settles to the bottom, point out the layers it forms as gravel, sand, silt, and clay settles at the bottom. Teach your grandkids about the importance of nutrients in the soil – without it, trees and plants wouldn’t be able to grow and give the earth its beautiful green scenery.
Explore the Local Park
Sometimes a simple stroll through the park will put you at ease. Next time you’re looking for a chance to watch the ducks or enjoy the scenery from the view of a comfy bench, bring your grandkids along with you. As you meander through the park, watch for unique flowers and point out passing squirrels and birds to your grandkids. Bring along a camera and a picnic basket for a splendid afternoon. If you’re looking for a chance to explore large national parks and see great sights around the country, consider going on a road trip to one of our top, “Four Inspiring Road Trip Locations.”
When the weather is nice, spending time outside can feel relaxing, reduce stress, and leave you with a feeling of serenity. But, summer also brings heat, and in many places around the country, it brings far too much heat to handle. If you find yourself huddled in front of the fan or feeling grateful for the air conditioner, consider one of these informative indoor nature activities.
- Nature Puzzles – Putting together a puzzle requires dedication, concentration, and cooperation. Choose a wildlife image or a landscape painting for a natural theme. With a simple puzzle, you and your grandchild can spend half an hour working together to accomplish something. With a difficult puzzle composed of many small pieces, it could take up a whole afternoon or longer, thus giving you plenty of time to chat and bond with your grandchildren as you engage the problem-solving parts of your brain.
- The Life of a Tree – Chances are, your grandkids have climbed plenty of trees before. But, do they know much about them? If it’s too hot to let them climb one, why not give them the opportunity to learn how trees live? With paper and pens (or crayons) in hand, draw a simple tree as your child follows along on a separate sheet of paper. Feel free to include rain and soil in your drawing as you explain how trees absorb nutrients and water from the soil before producing the air that we breathe.
- Painting with Plants – Ever wondered what it would be like to use a leaf as a paintbrush? With a piece of cardboard and a bit of paint, your grandchildren can fulfill their creative desires. Let the kids find leaves, rocks, and branches to use for painting. Use a large piece of cardboard rather than paper or canvas to avoid scratching, and be sure to lay down a tarp or other covering to keep the floor clean if you’re painting indoors. In no time, you’ll see fascinating patterns emerge as your grandkids create colorful leaf imprints and twig arrangements.
Still looking for more ways to enjoy nature with your grandkids? For more outdoor adventures and escapades, check out our blog on Travel.