Finding outdoor experiences can be as simple as looking to your own backyard or as complex as a week-long vacation.  For most, a variety of uncomplicated activities ensures good participation and interest.

Listed are links to ideas that you can use to keep you and your family curious and engaged while outside.

Beyond your backyard…where to find an outdoor experience.

The categories Below are listed in a progressive manner starting with those that take little outdoor experience.

Close-to-Home Activities

  • For a new idea every week, check out the National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour.
  • Richard Louv’s website offers a wealth of simple activities as well as a fun list of books:
  • Bird watching with your kids in your own backyard.  Click here.
  • Start gardening with your children – learn the plants that kids like, safety,and even one-hour activities.  Click here.
  • Build a fort!
  • Take the kitchen outside and use nature to cook a hot dog, s’mores, or warm up a slice of pizza when you create a solar oven out of a pizza box.  Click here.
  • A little supply intensive, but you can make crayons from soil! (use a little muffin tin rather than centrifuge tubes as listed) Hint – Call the WATER Center (316-337-9262)  and they will share their statewide soil samples.
  • Rediscover old favorites: hopscotch, jump rope, 4-square, hide & seek, stick ball, tag, red light green light, make mudpies, etc.
  • Be useful!  Rake the leaves, wash the dog, hang out laundry (let kids discover that the sun and wind evaporate the water from clothes)

Family Field Trips

Animal Encounters

  • Sedgwick County Zoo: Sedgwick County is fortunate to have one of the nation’s top Zoos!  Budget a whole day to explore the grounds, or if you have a family pass, consider making several trips so you can explore slowly.
  • Kansas Wildlife Exhibit: this free attraction is located in Central Riverside Park in the heart of Wichita. You’ll get to peek at native critters that are normally too shy to see in the wild.
  • Eagle Valley Raptor Center: grab a couple of families and call for pre-registration for this location.  You’ll see some of Kansas’ most majestic birds of prey.
  • Tanganika Wildlife Park
  • Great Plains Nature Center: you might catch a glimpse of wildlife while on the nature trail, but you are guaranteed to see some Kansas creatures if you venture inside the building.  The Center offers free and low cost special programs just for families – preregistration is required for some events.
  • WATER Center: visit the outdoor aquarium anytime and peek in on fish found in the Arkansas River.

After Dark
The Lake Afton Public Observatory offers programs on Friday and Saturday evenings and even has a discounted rate for family groups!

Camping & Hiking Experiences

  • The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ State Parks offer opportunities for tent and RV camping (click here for fee info) – and if you are not quite ready – many parks have cabins for rent!
  • Thinking of a camp experience for your child?  Discover the American Camp Association’s site.
  • Rock climbing: the Kansas Cliff Club in south Wichita offers classes and family memberships.
  • On the Water – learn to canoe and kayak or start taking float trips with the Arkansas River Coalition

Fishing & Hunting Resources
The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ Aquatic Education program will be hosting family fishing days during the summer.  For more about KDWP’s program, click here.

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