5 Nature Activities to Keep Cool This Summer
The summers can get excruciatingly hot. Even though we know our kids need to spend more time outdoors and less time in front of the screens, it can be hard to convince our children (or ourselves!) to step out the door in the heat of the afternoon.
I have good news! We can structure our days so that we still spend time outdoors without having to suffer from heat exhaustion.
Try these suggestions below!
If you’d like to see what other parents are doing to engage their kids in nature while staying cool this summer, join the Facebook group, Nature Challenge..
1. Early Morning Nature Walk
The easiest way to beat the heat is to get outside first thing in the morning. With my kids, I get them up, feed them, then we head outside. We focus on a lot of unstructured play in the mornings (can you focus on something that is unstructured – ha!). Our primary goal is to be outside and explore nature, letting our adventure lead the way. This may be a walk around the backyard, the neighborhood, or even an early morning hike. If hiking stresses you out because it takes so long to get out the door, click here for a checklist that will make it simple! The key here is to be consistent. Make it part of your routine so that your kids have outdoor time every day regardless of how hot it gets in the afternoon.
2. Dissect a Flower
While on your morning nature walk, find a flower or two that you can pick. Please refrain from picking wildflowers as they are necessary for the survival of the plant as well as many animals. And only pick flowers from the gardens of neighbors that let their dog poop in your yard. (Just kidding - or am I?) When you get home, put the flower in a cup of water and save it for the afternoon.
In the heat of the afternoon when it’s too hot to enjoyably play outdoors, do the flower dissection with your child. To get the full lesson, click here. For this activity, you can stay inside or you can find a shady place to set up outdoors.
3. Play with Ice
There are so many fun things that you can do with ice in the summer. And the best part is, you aren’t wasting water. The kids get to stay cool, learn something new, and be environmentally friendly.
Melting Experiment: Find 3 different containers with the same shape and dimensions. Fill them up with water and let them set in the freezer overnight. The next day, place them in 3 different locations around your home (maybe asphalt, rock, and grass). Ask your kids to hypothesize which one will melt first. Have the kids time how long it takes for the ice to melt in each location, preferably taking pictures every 15-30 minutes to document their results. Was your children’s hypothesis correct? Why?
Ice Watercolors: If your kids love art, then why not let them paint with ice? You can do this in two ways – have them paint with popsicles as they eat them (fun but sticky) or freeze ice cubes with food coloring overnight. The next day, the kids can decorate with their ice cubes on white paper or canvases. (Add more food coloring for a brighter color.) To make this a nature activity, I ask my kids to paint something in nature, like their favorite tree or an insect.
Hidden Treasures: Get a large Tupperware container and fill it with water, adding nature items as you go (pinecones, leaves, sticks, maybe a plastic animal or two, etc). Freeze the block overnight then give it to them the next day. They will spend a lot of time chipping away at the ice to pull out all the nature items! (Hint: do this a few days ahead of time. Add an inch of water in your container, a few things, then freeze. Do this 2 or 3 more times until you have layers of items in your bowl.)
If you’d like to try more nature-based activities that are great for summer, check out Nature Matters Academy here!
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!