If you woke up this morning dreading another long day of quarantine with your pre-teen vegging in front of the TV while your six year old does backflips off the walls, you’re not alone. Between long days working from home, keeping up with the endless onslaught of laundry and dishes, and operating elementary schools out of our living rooms, now more than ever parents are struggling to find the energy and motivation to get ourselves, and our kids, outside to refresh and reset. Thankfully, there are an abundance of digital resources available to parents to make this task easier. Take a look at our top ranked parent go-to apps for getting kids out of doors and adventuring.
Pokémon Go Pokémon Go has become a fast favorite with kids and parents alike since its release in 2016, encouraging families to explore new trails, parks, and even enjoy a walk around town, finding new pokemon everywhere they go. While your child may be reluctant to exchange TV time for fresh air, imagine his excitement when you suggest a walk to the neighborhood park where you spotted a Charizard earlier that day! This app is a sure way to make family outings fun and sensational again.
Audubon Bird Guide: North America This free app is an easy way to keep kids engaged and excited during hikes and walks through the park. Its highly detailed field guide includes over 800 species of North American birds. Users simply enter a description of their bird sightings, and utilize the app’s comprehensive photo guide for identification. This is a sure way to turn family outings into an educational and engaging experience for young minds.
Out-A-Bout This app works great for young kids who love to play games outside. The app prompts children to pose for pictures in various outdoor settings, and then plugs these pictures into a story book. The story scenarios encourage outdoor exploration that involves the entire family. Children can watch their story once it is completed, inspiring artistic creativity, teamwork, and enjoyment of the outdoors.
Plum’s Photo Hunt If you find yourself sending your kids into the yard to play, only to later find them lying around on the lawn bored, this app is for you. Created by PBS KIDS, Plum’s Photo Hunt sparks the imagination of littles by sending kids on missions to collect pictures of things in nature, like bugs, clouds, or plants. Kids can submit their nature pictures to the PBS KIDS website in the Plum Landing section. The app also catalogues their findings into a nature journal so kids can experience the joy of documenting and reviewing their discoveries of the natural world.
Disneynature Explore This free app by Disney uses AR (augmented reality) to create activities for the entire family to play outside. Activities are centered on five different animals and their respective habitats and include interactive activities, such as following tracks to locate a bear cub and experiencing the world from the perspective of a monarch butterfly. The app saves photos from your activities and logs them into a nature journal, so you can store memories from your outdoor adventures.
Star Chart This app utilizes your phone’s GPS and compass to reveal the night sky as one would see it through the lens of a telescope. It enables children and parents alike, especially those living in cities where starry nights are obscured by city lights, to discover and chart constellations and other astronomical features. It is educational, and most importantly, encourages children to get outside and contemplate the incredible universe that we are part of. Try it while by a campfire, or in your backyard after dark, for fun family memories and educational outdoor experiences.
Charity Miles This app is a great way to get your child exercise in the outdoors, while also cultivating a spirit of giving. It allows you to select the charity of your choice from its list of over fourty partner charities, and then donates to this charity for every mile that your child walks, bikes, or runs. You can pick the charity together with your child, empowering them to support a cause in a way that is accessible to them. This endeavor gets your child’s body, mind, and heart moving!
Project Noah A truly unique opportunity to support ecological research, Project Noah enables users to upload data about animal sightings. Users benefit from specie identification, while the community benefits from data pooling from users. This enables researchers to track and monitor animal populations and endangered species, while also giving children an opportunity to learn about ecosystems and be empowered to contribute to a bigger cause.
Geocaching If you remember geocaching from your college years, you might be surprised to learn that the geocaching community is still alive and thriving! Kids are encouraged to participate with parent supervision through the geocaching app. Families can hike, walk, and explore new areas together, in search of local treasures. The app claims that there are more than 3 million treasures located around the world, giving kids a reason to explore outside no matter where you live.
Nature Passport Promising young minds an answer to their curiosities, this app enables you to upload your nature photos for identification by highly qualified field experts. Activities, badges, postcards for printing, and a shareable digital nature journal are just a few of the features this app has to offer. The app also supports collaborative, team projects, encouraging outdoor exploration with family members and friends.