Go Play Outside

 Go Play Outside: Resources, Book and Apps to Get Your Family Back into Nature

On several days a week throughout the year, you will find my family out in nature on our bikes, kayaking, hiking, camping, snowshoeing or skiing. The kids call it fun – I like to call it nature therapy. Here I share some of my favorite resources to get your family back into nature.


The book that jump started the conversation: Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. If you need a reason to go play outside (and you have kids), this is your book.

If you’ve already read Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv followed it up with The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age. It’s on my to-read list.

Not for the already adventurous parent, this is a great introduction for anyone on the fence about taking their kids into the great outdoors:  Let Them Be Eaten By Bears: A Fearless Guide to Taking Our Kids Into the Great Outdoors.

3 great books for inexpensive, go outside and breath fresh air ideas for parents:

Parents: take your kids camping. Of all the amazing vacations I took as a kid, camping trips were the ones I remember.  This book gets excellent reviews (and I love the cover design). The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids: How to Plan Memorable Family Adventures and Connect Kids to Nature.

Technology & Apps

Technology gets a bad rap for keeping kids from nature, but there’s some great apps out there to use in your quest for nature.

Here’s a great article on why we need to bridge technology and nature for our children.

This report from the NWF provides real-world advice to help parents serve as positive role models and teach children to use technology in moderation.

The Wilderness Society suggests 9 free nature and wildlife apps for kids.

The NWF compiled their favorite apps where you pretend to be animal or naturalists.

Go Play Outside: Resources to Inspire Your Family to Get Back into NATURE

Online Resources & Blogs

Children & Nature Network : News, research and more about the movement to connect kids to nature. I enjoy following the C&NN Facebook page for the highlights.

The National Wildlife Foundation has a great Nature Finder tool for finding local parks, trails and other nature sites.

The Be Out There Campaign, also by NWF, provides inspiration and ideas for outdoor play.

Join thousands across the US during the Great American Backyard Campout held annually in June and here’s 10 backyard campout activities.

A great Pinterest board featuring places all over the US for families to ride their bikes.

Nature Rocks has a great tool to help you generate ideas for getting outside in any weather or environment. Let’s say it’s raining today and you are going to a local park, Nature Rocks suggests playing games such as 20 Questions, Puddle Jumping and Guess What’s Inside Nature’s Mystery Bag? All come with instructions.

Outside Magazine (one of my favorites) has a blog titled, Raising Rippers, chronicling a mom’s journey to living outdoors with her kids.

Gadgets and gear for kids to play outside. How fun!

To make outdoor exploration more interesting and for gift ideas for little nature lovers, check out my 10 Favorite Gadgets and Gear for Outdoor Play.

Please share your own ideas to encourage others to get a fresh breath of air today.

Gadgets and Gear for Outdoor Play

These are great gift ideas for getting our kids back out into nature.

It doesn’t take much but a sense of adventure and a comfy pair of tennis shoes to play outdoors but a few gadgets and gear fit for kids makes it that much more interesting. Here are my favorites for little nature lovers.


Carson Hawk Child Binoculars : perfect for bird identification and viewing animals from afar.

Mini Microscope : my kids love to investigate leaves, insects and tree bark with these petite weapons of exploration.

Whistle and Compass : we have a similar version of this whistle and compass combo allowing us to teach the kids safety measures while out in the wilderness.

Petzl Headlamps : small enough for kids, we use these primarily for camping and playing outside at night.

Julbo Kid’s Sunglasses : this summer, my optometrist reminded me that children should have sunglasses on just as much as adults. Gulp. Julbo makes a durable pair for little ones, now if we could only make sure they don’t get lost.


Camelbak Kid’s Mini-MULE Hydration Pack : both kids, ages 4 and 7, tote these along whenever we venture outdoors. They not only hold water but snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, and other gadgets we bring along. I do not leave home without them.

Lifetime Youth Kayak : without a doubt, one of our favorite pieces of gear for kids. My son was 3 when he started paddling on his own. Perfect for weekends at the lake.  I recommend making sure it comes with a backrest and paddle.

Balance Bikes : skip the tricycle and training wheels and go straight for a balance bike. Just make sure you get the right size by measuring your child’s inseam first. Oh and please don’t forget a helmet.

Motorola Walkie Talkies : skip past the cheap children’s walkie talkies, they will be broken before you know it (speaking from experience). We got the kids this Motorola pair for Christmas and have been using them for our winter outdoor play: sledding, skiing and snowshoeing. They will get even more use this summer.

RoadID : this wristlet comes personalized with emergency contact phone numbers and information, just in case something might happen. My 3-year old got his own RoadID this past year, here’s why.

Visit me here for my favorite books, online resources, blogs, and apps for getting our families back into nature.