15 fam friendly outdoorsChildren who spend a lot of time outdoors benefit from exposure to nature in myriad ways, some of which may surprise even the most devoted outdoorsmen.

According to a study published in the journal Human Dimensions of Wildlife, fifth graders who attended school at a local prairie wetlands where lessons in science, math and writing were integrated in an experimental way had stronger reading and writing skills than peers who attended more traditional schools.

Another study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that holding a class outdoors one day a week significantly improved the daily cortisol patterns of students, reducing their risk of stress and improving their ability to adapt to stress.

In the era of coronavirus, outdoor adventures can offer a break for students and their parents.

Parents who want their children to reap the rewards of being exposed to the great outdoors can encourage educators to incorporate nature into school curriculums and also embrace these family-friendly outdoor activities.

Nature treasure hunt: A treasure hunt can keep kids engaged on family hiking excursions and provide an excellent opportunity for parents to teach children about the assortment of plants, birds and wildlife that live in the parks and along the trails near their home.

Outdoor art class: Families don’t even need to leave their properties to spend quality time together outside. Pick a pleasant or mild afternoon and set up an outdoor painting station, encouraging everyone to paint what they see. Regular outdoor art sessions can add variety as each season can offer new landscapes and wildlife activity.

Bonfire: Outdoor activities need not be limited to daylight hours. A post-dinner backyard bonfire can entice everyone outside, where families can tell scary stories as they make s’mores.

Stargaze: Stargazing is another way families can spend time outdoors and learn a few things. Some blankets, a thermos and a chart of constellations can provide the perfect complement to a sky full of bright stars. If visibility is compromised in the backyard, find a local spot where everyone can get a clear view of the night sky.

Fruit picking: Depending on the availability of farms in your area, fruit or vegetable picking can provide a fun and educational activity. Visit a local farm during its harvest season, teaching children about how the foods they love are grown and eventually make it to the family dinner table.

Parents can expand on these ideas to offer outdoor learning even after students return to the traditional classroom.

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