Get Outside for Family Time this Spring!
by Megan Mora Fuentes, HEAV
This time of year is one of the most exciting–when we get a taste of nice weather and the landscape starts blooming. Take advantage of these early spring days before the lazy summer heat sets in and spend some time in nature as it wakes up and grows before our eyes. Check out these ideas for free outdoor family activities for some fun ways to get outside with your family this spring!
1. Plant Kindness Rocks
Exercise your creativity and your body by painting “kindness rocks” and planting them around your neighborhood and community. You can make this project as simple or involved as you like. There are online groups dedicated to sharing hidden and found rocks, but you don’t need to participate in any of these if you choose not to. You can use the idea however you’d like within your homeschool.
Practice different painting techniques as you study art, glean inspirational quotes from favorite authors and historical figures, and pray for anyone who might find your hidden rocks. Then, take a walk around your neighborhood, in your favorite park, or through your hometown to find great places to stash your little treasures.
This is one of those great free outdoor family activities in which you can all participate. Be sure to follow the general guidelines of sealing your rocks, not decorating them with any foreign materials other than the paint, not hiding them in federal or state parks or private property, and any other restrictions your local area may have.
This blog post shares some great guidelines for making and hiding kindness rocks, and even other ways you might use them or gift them if you prefer not to hide them around.
2. Go on a Treasure Hunt
Geocaching combines the health and educational benefits of hiking with the excitement and adventure of a treasure hunt! Put simply, you use a GPS to locate a hidden cache located at specific coordinates–some caches are easy to find while others require some more adventurous searching. Then, you generally record the date of your interaction along with any other information you want to share in a log stored in the cache.
You’ll often collect a small trinket from the cache and leave a few of your own behind (maybe a kindness rock or two?). Check out this Homeschool Living for some great ways to incorporate geography, wilderness safety, map reading, logic, and more into your homeschool with a geocaching adventure.
It’s a great way to get outdoors with your family and learn organically this spring!
3. Play Disc Golf
Disc golf is a sport that has been gaining popularity for years, and found an explosion of growth during the pandemic as a healthy, outdoor activity that doesn’t require players to come in close proximity to each other.
It’s currently one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. It’s also a very accessible sport, as it requires little in the way of equipment–some good walking shoes and a disc or two are all you need.
Another family-friendly benefit is that many courses are located in public parks, with playgrounds, picnic areas, and more nearby, which makes it an excellent outdoor family activity when you have children in a wide age range.
You can check out this website to find disc golf courses near you. The walking throughout the course coupled with the throwing motion provides both strength and aerobic exercise.
Playing disc golf, or with a frisbee in general, also provides you an excellent opportunity to incorporate a lesson in physics and aerodynamics. (Hint: If you’re able, try getting discs in a few different styles and let kids hypothesize how the weight and shape of the disc will impact their throws.) free outdoor family activities
4. Create Land Art Together
Land art is a great way to explore your environment and exercise some creativity while providing an outlet for littles who seem to want to collect every cool rock and stick they find. Take some time to explore your surroundings–in your backyard, at the park, or on a hike–and collect whatever natural elements seem interesting. Pay attention to color and texture, but don’t damage wildlife by pulling bark off of trees or breaking off live foliage.
Focus on fallen leaves or blossoms, pine needles and cones, sticks, and rocks, and use that patch of moss or interesting root pattern under a tree as your foundation or background. Create whatever colorful arrangement or interesting structure you like, and take pictures to document it if you want to.
This is one of those completely free outdoor family activities, and you can utilize the time however best fits your family–with a laid-back approach to exercise creativity or incorporating more educational elements like a scavenger hunt or a focus on specific colors, types of material, or environments. This can also be a great way to help teach younger children to explore, examine, and learn about the natural elements, but to leave them behind in the environment they were found.
5. Visit An Observatory and Stargaze
Don’t restrict your outdoor time to strictly daylight hours! While the nights still fall earlier than they will midsummer, the weather is milder and can make it easier to take in the night skies. Many observatories also host times in which they are open to the public, for free or for a modest fee.
Check online for an observatory near you, or simply choose a clear night for some stargazing with the naked eye for a unique outdoor family activity.
A homeschool graduate, Megan earned her associate degree while in high school. She has worked as an office manager for eight years. In her spare time, Megan enjoys kayaking, writing, and baking cookies for anyone who will eat them. She and her husband live in her hometown of Winchester, VA.
This article was originally published by the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) on March 15, 2023. Republished with permission.