For Immediate Release
September 24, 2007
Contact:
Robin Crawford / Ruder Finn
202.974.5025 / crawfordr@ruderfinn.com

 

10 WAYS TO UNLOCK THE FUN OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS WITH YOUR KIDS THIS WINTER

Get Outdoors USA! Recommends These Winter Activities to Get Kids Off the Couch, Away From the Computer, and Into the Great Outdoors

Washington D.C. — Don’t let cold weather stop you from venturing outside this winter. Bundle up the entire family in mittens, wool hats and cozy scarves and head straight into the Great Outdoors.

Studies show that there has been a significant decline in the amount of time young people spend playing outside. TV programs and video games have filled this time and, consequently, today’s youth are less physically active and less interested in nature and the outdoors. Frosty temperatures during the winter do not need to keep kids indoors. Instead, it’s time to have some fun, combat children’s disinterest, and teach them healthy leisure patterns that will last a lifetime, by fusing the latest technology with the simple joy of an outdoor adventure.

Get Outdoors USA! has developed its latest installment of 10 outdoor activities as a guide for creative ways to have fun with your kids and grandkids as they explore and appreciate the outdoors during the long winter months. Our ideas work for most climates and are guaranteed to deliver lasting family memories and healthy fun.

1. Count Your Steps with a Pedometer.  Whether it’s a relaxing stroll or a fun saunter in the brisk winter air, enjoy the Great Outdoors by taking a walk. The Surgeon General recommends that everyone participate in 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, and walking is a great way for the whole family to get active. Want to see how far you’ve gone on the walk? Hook a simple pedometer to your pocket and record your steps. Don’t have a pedometer handy? Plug in any route to G-Maps Pedometer at www.gmap-pedometer.com/ and let the computer do the calculating.

2. Bird Watching. The air may feel chilly, but our feathered friends still pepper the sky. Set up a birdfeeder with the family to transform the backyard into an ornithological wonderland. Identify colorful visitors to the feeder by using a bird book and track which birds become regulars. Incorporate technology into your bird watching by investing in a pair of binoculars for the family.  Take the binoculars outside to hunt for abandoned nests and to watch birds soaring high in the sky.  For more information on bird watching, visit http://www.birdwatching.com/

3. Keep a Photo Logbook. Engage in the winter season by starting a photo logbook with the family. As a long-term project, encourage kids to get outdoors, take a walk and capture photos of the same location during varying points of the season – early winter, first snowfall, late winter – and log the photos in an album. As winter days change, compare the location photos for similarities and differences. For a short-term logbook project, have kids snap photos of shadows throughout the day and discuss the light changes and colors. Help kids share their photos on social networking sites like MySpace and on photo-sharing sites like www.shutterfly.com and www.snapfish.com

4. Animal Tracking. A fun way to get some outdoor exercise, foster observational skills, and learn more about animals and their winter habits is to follow their tracks. Winter is a great time to go animal tracking in your own backyard or in a nearby park. Start the outdoor adventure by having kids search for tracks in newly fallen snow or muddy patches. Take measurements and sketch drawings of the tracks. Then, have kids search for other signs of an animal’s presence, including rub marks, bite marks and scratches on trees and other vegetation, and snap photos. For more information on identifying animal tracks, visit your local library and pick up a book about animal tracks.  

5. Play Snow Games. Kids will abandon their video games for a classic winter pastime –a good, old-fashioned snowball fight. Add a few more games to the winter fun repertoire with freeze tag and red rover, which will get everyone’s blood pumping. True to its name, powder-puff football is great to play in powdery snow. Grab a spray bottle filled with water and food coloring and use it to draw goal lines in the snow. Then, line up your teams for the big game!

6. Travel to Snowy Spots.  Soak in winter’s majesty this year by taking the family to visit breathtaking, snow-laden locations where they can participate in a variety of fun outdoor activities. From day trips to weeklong skiing excursions, create family vacation memories of the Great Outdoors that will last a lifetime. Before you travel, explore wintry destinations and enjoy panoramic views using webcams on the Internet at http://www.earthcam.com/

7. Track the Snowfall.  Whether it’s your own backyard or a city hundreds of miles away, teach your kids and grandkids about snowfall patterns and how to track the weather using www.weather.com Pick a few locations nationwide, including neighborhoods where other family members live and cities that get large snowfalls, then punch in the zip codes to record snowfall in inches throughout the winter. Don’t forget to get your kids off the couch and into the backyard so that they can compare the numbers from around the country with the snowfall they measure right at home using a simple ruler.

8. Visit a Zoo. Our furry friends need company during the cold winter months too, so grab your hat and gloves and take a walk through your local zoo. In addition to great animal sightings, you are likely to learn about the seasonal habits of many different creatures throughout the zoo. Do they hibernate? Be sure to visit the penguins and polar bears in their natural weather habitats. Find the zoo nearest you at the Association for Zoos and Aquariums at www.aza.org/FindZooAquarium/

9. Create Art Using Nature. The treasures found outside in winter can transform any blank sheet of construction paper into a work of art. Take the kids out on a nature hike in the neighborhood before the first snowfall and have them collect fallen sticks, dried leaves, pinecones and small pebbles to paste into a collage. With a glue stick and some crayons, they will easily have the refrigerator decorated in no time.

10. Explore Nearby Creeks and Rivers. Changing river depths and temperatures can be fascinating phenomena to explore throughout the winter with the kids. Take the family outdoors to a lake or a river near you and visit it periodically throughout the winter with a ruler, thermometer and camera in hand. Keep a record of how temperature and water depth fluctuate throughout the season while snapping shots of the landscape at varying locations. Compare and contrast the different colors of the river’s surroundings and keep an eye out for the changing population of critters and insects.

For many more fun activities to do with your family in the Great Outdoors during any season, visit www.getoutdoorsusa.org

Get Outdoors USA! is a national movement dedicated to helping children live healthy, active outdoor lives.  Through outdoor activity children receive benefits of mind, body and spirit and are able to experience the national treasures that belong to all Americans.  The American Recreation Coalition launched Get Outdoors USA! in April 2007.  More information about the organization is available at www.getoutdoorsusa.org

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