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Urban Science Adventure: 100+ things to do outside

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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It’s summer. The kids are out of school. You want to keep them engaged and active. Most parents also want to keep them on track academically, but not necessarily with a strong hand approach to learning.

I get it. Cultivating some old-fashioned out of doors play and reflection time is just what this doctor recommends.

From a previous post at Urban Science Adventures! © here is my list of over 100 things you and your kids (or grand kids, or summer camp kids, little cousins, nieces/nephews, students, etc) can do that lots of fun and will make a ton of memories to last for forever!

And you can do most of things anywhere! Your backyard or neighborhood park as well as across town or out of town adventures to state or national parks and forests. In fact, the more places you visit and different types of places you can then start to compare the wildlife and environmental habitats of these different places.

Here’s how you and your family can get started.

Creating Outdoor Recreation & Education Memories

1. Make maple syrup.*
2. Read a book under a big shady tree.
3. Ski down a mountain. *
4. See a wild bobcat.
5. See a wild fox.*
6. Find a shell on a beach. *
7. Skip a rock on a lake. *
8. See a sunrise. *
9. Pick fruit from a tree. * (peaches are in season in June/July, apples September/October)
10. Grow a sunflower. *
11. Sleep under the stars in a sleeping bag or hammock. *
12. Find the Big Dipper.*
13. Climb a sand dune.
14. Walk in the rain with or without an umbrella. *
15. Find a fossil.
16. Take a photo of the Grand Canyon.
17. See a sunset.*
18. See a raptor fly. *
19. Be able to identify ten birds by sight or sound.
20. See a mushroom. *
21. Visit a tide pool.
22. Visit a volcano.
23. Feel an earthquake. *
24. Find four-leaf clovers. *


25. Make flower garlands. *
26. Catch snow on your tongue. *
27. See a deer in the wild. *
28. Touch a dolphin.
29. Go ice skating on a pond.
30. Go fishing. *
31. Go snorkeling.*
32. Whittle a stick. *
33. Gather chicken eggs.
34. Milk a cow or a goat.*
35. Ride a horse. *
36. See a moose.
37. Gather acorns.*
38. Pick berries and eat some.
39. Watch a lightning storm. *
40. Build a campfire.*
41. Press a flower.*
42. Use binoculars to spot a bird. *
43. Identify five or more wildflowers.
44. Take a photo of the night sky.
45. Identify ten types of animal scat. *
46. See a tumbleweed. *
47. See a wild snake.*
48. Watch a spider spin a web. *
49. Climb a tree. *
50. Take a hike. *
51. Watch ants in a colony. *
52. Hatch a butterfly.
53. Climb a rock. *
54. Go biking. *
55. See the Northern Lights.
56. See a bear in the wild.
57. Dig for worms. *
58. Grow a vegetable and then eat it.
59. See a bat flying. *
60. Feel a sea star. *
61. Swim in the ocean.*
62. See a geyser erupt.
63. Walk in the fog. *
64. Observe a bee.*
65. Find a bird’s nest. *
66. See a beaver’s den.
67. Go whale watching. *
68. See a banana slug.
69. Stand on the edge of a cliff.*
70. Blow a dandelion. *
71. Throw a snowball and build a snowman.*
72. Visit a wildlife rescue shelter or hospital. *
73. See a lightning bug. Or do you call it a firefly? *
74. Visit a cave. *
75. Make a sand castle.
76. Hear a cricket. *
77. Catch a frog. * (I’m actually pretty good at this.)

Me holding a Fowler's toad

78. Watch for the first star in the evening.*
79. Smell a skunk. *
80. Feel pine sap. *
81. Feed a duck or goose. *
82. Learn to use a compass or GPS.*
83. See a buffalo or bison. *
84. Get wet in a waterfall. *
85. Swim in a lake or river or pond. *
86. Walk on a log. *

Ok, I'm taking a quit rest.

87. Feel moss.*
88. Jump in a pile of leaves. *
89. Fly a kite. *
90. Walk barefoot in the mud. *
91. Hear a sea lion bark. *
92. Hear a coyote.
93. See a coyote. *
94. Crack open a nut. *
95. Go snowshoeing or snow sledding.
96. Feel a cattail. *
97. Smell a pine forest. *
98. Sit under a palm tree.*
99. Walk across a stream on rocks.
100. Collect a mold of a mammal track.
101. Watch a bird build its nest. *
102. Do a tree bark rubbing. *
103. Do a leaf rubbing.*
104. Catch butterflies with a net.
105. See wild elk.
106. Catch a crayfish. *
107. Go searching for ground hogs on Groundhogs’ Day. *
108. Walk along a stream. *
109. Go on a night hike. *
110. Go sniffing for spiders at night.*
110. Go spot lighting for wildlife *
111. Make a kite.
112. Go flip small rocks. *
113. Go on a nature photo scavenger hunt.
114. Start a nature journal to record all of the great things you’ve checked off of and added your list. *

But most importantly, have fun!

* Things I’ve checked off of my own list.

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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