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Get Out!

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Published on: Dec. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 17, 2010

Ah, a new year. A fresh start. Time to make some resolutions. Like most, you’ve probably set goals to lose weight, live healthier or spend more time with your family. Since you’re reading the Conservationist, maybe you’ve resolved to do something beneficial for the environment.

What if there was a way to accomplish these resolutions without diets, fitness plans or “quality time with kids” entries in your calendar? In fact, there is. All you have to do is take your kids outside for an hour every day. Sound too good to be true? It’s not.

Research has linked time spent outside to everything from weight loss to lower stress levels. But here’s the really good news: getting outside is even more beneficial for children. In study after study, playing outside has been reported to make kids healthier, smarter and better behaved. Not surprisingly, getting outside has also been shown to foster greater appreciation for nature in children. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we live in an information-saturated environment where getting outside competes for your kids’ time with television, the Internet, soccer practice and dance class (to name a few). To win the competition, getting out has to be more fun than staying in.

To help in that regard, what follows is a month-by-month list of fun things to do outside. All you have to do is resolve to get out—and take your kids with you!

January

Encounter an eagle. Every winter, thousands of bald eagles follow migrating flocks of waterfowl to the Show-Me State. With a little searching—and a good pair of binoculars— you and your kids can find eagles perched in trees along large rivers, lakes and wetlands. To ensure an encounter, attend Eagle Days. For dates and locations, visit the Eagle Days link listed below.

Go sled riding. Build an igloo. Though Missouri rarely gets the deep, well-packed snow needed for authentic igloo construction, your kids can fashion a facsimile by packing snow into plastic storage tubs and stacking the resulting blocks.

February

Scavenge. Make a checklist of things found outside— feathers, pine cones, colored rocks—and send your kids on a scavenger hunt.

Track animals through the snow. For help figuring out what you’re following (is that a skunk track, Daddy?) check out a field guide from your public library.

Take a night hike. Fear of the dark is nothing more than fear of the unknown. Teach your kids there’s no reason to fear by taking

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