By  Alisa Taylor

Albertans are celebrating the end of a long winter’s nap and relishing this much deserved warm weather. The chirping birds and sprouting buds may be enough for parents to get outside and into nature but the same can’t always be said for our kids. Prying their hands from their beloved devices to enjoy a walk in the river valley or help plant the garden can be like taking away a Mom’s first cup of coffee in the morning. Not likely going to happen.

It is well documented that nature reduces levels of stress and anxiety and improves mood and creativity. One study linked spending time in a forest setting to an increased expression of anti-cancer proteins which lasted 7 days post forest walk. Fortunately, technology can assist us once again in providing our kids their daily dose of sunshine. Utilizing an app or becoming creative with what motivates your child can get them out counting lady bugs or ripping up the trails.

Here are some tech-inspired ideas to reinvigorate your child’s love for the great outdoors:

  1. Geocaching – there is no shortage of geocaches hidden all over our province ranging from easy, kid-friendly caches to challenging, complex, where-am-I-going caches. The excitement in the search and finding the treasure is sure to draw out the most reluctant You Tuber.
  2. Photography – the number of picture enhancing apps and fun photo filters available can inspire the youngest of photographers. Encourage your child to appreciate and capture on screen the smallest creatures in nature or notice the beauty in a single water droplet left hanging on a leaf.
  3.  Scavenger Hunts – suitable for older kids who can be on their own, parents can set up a scavenger hunt around the neighbourhood or on the trails. Perhaps the last clue will lead to the home wi-fi or iTunes password that was just changed.
  4. Go-Pro – creating content via video and sharing that content is immensely popular with kids. Attaching a go-pro or similar device to their bike helmet or scooter can bring out their adventurous and creative sides. Plus, the excitement in watching and editing their self-made videos may spark further outdoor creativity.
  5. Bird watching – the river valley is a haven for our feathered friends. Did you know the great horned owl is Alberta’s provincial bird and they are right here in our YEG river valley? Download a bird watching app like Peterson Bird Identifier & Field Guide and see how many chirpers your kids can identify.

“When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength” – Maria Montessori

Alisa is a former Criminal Intelligence Analyst and has worked in law enforcement for the last 15 years. She is passionate about keeping kids safe and kind online and ensuring they thrive in our digital world. When Alisa isn’t online, you might spot her in the YEG river valley with her dogs, husband, and daughter or escaping the city for a weekend of camping.  You can follow Alisa on her blog The Lotus Page as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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