15 Websites and Apps to Encourage Kids to Explore the Outdoors
How do you pull kids away from their computers and other devices and encourage them to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors? You get technology involved! We’ve taken the time to round up some of the best websites and apps designed to encourage kids to get outside and have fun while they’re exploring the outdoors.
Learning about Nature
These resources give kids ideas of what to look for while outside and activities to enjoy.
EcoKids is a Canadian website focused on helping kids learn about the environment. Much of the site focuses on environmental issues, such as climate change, land use and waste. Becoming more aware of these issues can help kids further appreciate the outdoors.
National Zoo Animal Cams give kids an up-close and personal view of many different animals found at the National Zoo. If visiting the zoo isn’t feasible kids can still explore the outdoors and learn about animals online.
Bug Bytes is full of downloadable sound files featuring the sounds of bugs. Kids can use the site to learn what sounds bugs make or to try and identify the bug sounds they hear at night.
Animal Diversity Web is full of descriptions of animals organized by species. The site is geared more towards older kids or those conducting research.
Project Noah (FREE) gives kids a place to share their wildlife encounters and learn from encounters others have had. Its location-based field guide is particularly useful to help kids find out about wildlife around where they live.
BirdsEye (FREE w/ IAPs) helps kids learn about the birds that live in their area. They can search by time, year or by characteristic to make it easier to find the birds they see outside.
Bugs in the Garden (PAID) is full of pictures of bugs in all stages of their life cycles. Realistic pictures help kids quickly identify the bugs they find crawling on the ground or in the garden.
Leaf Snap (FREE) is an electronic field guide designed to help people recognize plants around them. It even includes a feature to allow you to take a picture of a leaf to narrow down the possibilities.
“But there’s nothing to do out there!” There’s plenty for kids to do outdoors, but sometimes they just need a little inspiration. These resources are all about helping kids find fun activities so they can enjoy the outdoors.
Nature Rocks has users select whether the weather is rainy, snowy, warm, or cold. Then they choose where they want to play (local park, water, backyard/home, forest/wilderness). After it provides a wealth of activities kids can do to help them explore and enjoy the nature scene they created.
NWF Activity Finder is a searchable list of outdoor and nature-based activities. Parents can search by keyword to find ideas to help fill kids’ time outdoors.
Kids Gardening encourages kids to get outside and get gardening. The site is designed more for adults, but provides a lot of helpful resources to help adults make gardening fun for kids.
My First Garden introduces kids to gardening through a series of simple explanations. It also includes a gardening journal, planning list and other guides to help kids get started.
Out-A-Bout (FREE) is a short interactive story designed to encourage kids to get outside to play and explore. It also allows kids to take pictures of their time outdoors.
Big Cat Race (FREE) is a game kids play by running. Kids can choose which type of big cat chases them and the level of difficulty. Best of all, they’ll get outdoors and start exercising.
Compass (FREE) is just one of the many compass apps available. Your device may even come pre-loaded with a compass. Hand kids the compass and get “lost” in your backyard or a local park together, using the compass to help you find your way back.
Technology offers a lot of resources to get kids outside. Of course, your ultimate goal is to get them to enjoy the outdoors. Let’s try to get our kids to look up every now and then to explore the beautiful outdoors that surround them.