Combining Technology and Outdoor Play is a Win-Win Situation
There’s no denying the benefits of technology, even from an early education standpoint, but when those technological devices get in the way of a younger generation enjoying fresh air and the wonders of the outdoors, it’s time to put on the brakes. How do parents convince a generation that doesn’t know life without an iPad to go play outside?
According to Christina Fecio, director of education and training for Doodle Bugs! Children’s Centers, parents need to adapt by bringing nature and technology together.
“Most parents today remember their childhood days filled with outdoor play—making forts in the woods, chasing butterflies, riding bikes, etc. because there were no devices to entertain them inside. Being indoors was boring. It’s just not the case today with tablets, TVs, cell phones, iPods. For those parents that struggle with their children using their designated screentime inside on a beautiful spring or summer day, there are ways to use technology to help children appreciate what’s outside,” Fecio said.
Fecio offers tips on combining technology and fresh air for children of all ages:
- Nature Scavenger Hunt: In the “notes” section of any device, create a list of items (stick, stone, leaves, flowers) that children will find outdoors. Kids can use the camera function to take a photo of each item found.
- Preschoolers: Keep it simple with the number of items.
- Young School Agers: Make the list a bit longer and add in a few “tricky” items, such as an “object that looks like a letter in your name.”
- Older School Agers: Consider widening the search area to a neighbor’s yard or park, or allowing them to create a list of their own for a sibling/friend.
- Explore Nature Day or Night:
- Daytime: At your local park or nature preserve, look for animal tracks and use the” iTrack Wildlife” app to identify them. The Lite version is free and allows you to identify up to 5 species.
- Nighttime: Use “The Night Sky” app ($0.99) to identify planets and constellations. Both apps are fairly intuitive so even young children will be successful with adult support.
- Fitness Fun:
- The Fit List: Challenge children with the “workout of the day’”– a list of outdoor activities can range from “6 times down the slide, 3 tries at hula hooping, and one game of hopscotch” for younger kids and get more elaborate for older children (shooting hoops, rollerblading backwards, or practicing new yoga poses). Children have to use the camera or video option to record evidence that the challenge is complete.
- Family Fitness Challenge: Make fitness a family affair! Based on your child’s interests and abilities, consider using Pedometer, Couch to 5K, or RunKeeper to meet your activity goals.
- Creativity in Art:
- Put a modern twist on the artist with his sketchpad by installing a free painting app like “Doodle Buddy.” Bring your tablet to the park, the waterfront, or just the backyard and challenge kids to paint what they see (or whatever inspires them).
- Challenge older kids with a contest. One person or team “paints” 3-5 images of things they see and the other team has to find (and take photos) of those actual objects. Repeat and the team with the most correct photos in the shortest time wins.
- Have children use sidewalk chalk to create large, life-size scenery, then lay down on the ground to insert themselves into the scene. Need inspiration? This article has some great examples.
- Children can make comics by taking photos of your neighborhood or an excursion, then use those images to make comics using “Strip Design” or another kid-friendly app.
Doodle Bugs! Children’s Centers provides education-based care for children ages six weeks to 12 years, including Preschool/Pre-K and Summer Camp programs. The BRAVO! Curriculum®, which is professionally designed and exclusive to Doodle Bugs!, combines theme-related, developmentally appropriate classroom experiences, all-inclusive enrichment activities and a series of center events. Enrichment activities include Tae Kwon Do and Doodle Dance & Fitness. Doodle Bugs! has 13 locations in Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh and Lake Worth, FL.
For more information, visit www.doodlebugs.com.