Summer’s here, and with it a heavy increase in screen time for many kids. Worried that yours are going to spend too much time indoors? Here are five apps that are all but guaranteed to inspire kids to get outside and explore the world around them. Whether they want to learn about insects, birds, the sun or simply how to build a backyard pond, here are some top apps to get them out of the house!
This NASA-backed app offers fascinating ways to learn about the sun: through activities, videos and images, as well as a “sun observatory,” which shows live images of the star from a NASA satellite in seven different views. A good assortment of activities offers mini experiments on subjects like solar convection — sun-baked s’mores! — and heat distribution. Most can be done with minimal parental supervision. This is a worthwhile app for kids with an interest in space sciences and is entirely free.
DIY: Kids Learning Skills and Being Awesome is an amazing app that encourages kids to learn new skills, many of which will get them exploring outside. Kids earn badges for skills such as learning to shoot with a bow and arrow, sewing a beekeeping suit and building a backyard pond. Through the app, kids can sign up for projects, track their progress and get feedback from other users, creating a community where a truly great assortment of skill-building, creative DIY projects gets star billing.
Backed by National Geographic, Project Noah is mobilizing a new generation of nature explorers and helping people from around the world appreciate their local wildlife. With a goal to build the go-to platform for documenting all the world’s organisms, the site encourages kids to upload their own photos and observations of nature around them, no matter where they live.
This fantastic (and completely free) app gives you the tools to photograph and expertly classify birds. Audubon Bird Guide boasts many impressive features with more than 800 images of bird species, detailed seasonal and migratory range maps, birds reported near your location and over eight hours of bird calls. Kids can even search for birds visually by identifying things like color, size, body shape and wingspan. Best of all: Despite containing so much information, the design doesn’t overwhelm.
This is great way for kids to not only learn about insects, but also to spark their curiosity to know more. Kids can read, watch and learn about hundreds of species through snippets of text, video, photography, audio recordings and graphics. A great day-to-night feature includes realistic insect sounds. While younger kids may need some help adjusting to the navigation, the observation journal is very easy to use. Best of all, it encourages kids to apply what they’ve learned to the outdoors (or indoors, depending on where the insects are living)!