Why is it Important to Let Our Kids Play Outside When it is Dark?
When tend to hole up inside once it gets dark, but the world is so different at night that it is well worth taking a few minutes to step outdoors and show our kids the night as well as the mysterious night sky. While we don’t want to let our kids roam around outside in the middle of the night, some outdoor night activities are great for teaching them about the earth, day cycles, and their environment. Playing outside teaches our children coordination, environment awareness, and a little bit of science. As well, playing outside instead of snacking indoors while watching TV will be great for their physical and mental health, energy levels, attention spans and will help them connect with nature in a way that doesn’t happen during the busy day.
Be prepared for awe and lots of questions! Here are a few nighttime play ideas to get you inspired.
These nighttime outdoor play ideas are just the beginning. There are more activities on the It’s All Kid’s Play blog as well as Pinterest. And sometimes I share ideas on Twitter, too! Oh! And be sure to check out the book I wrote, too. It includes even more travel games as well as over 1,000 other play activities so no matter where you are and what your interests or age, there is something in there for you–guaranteed! Check it out!
Howl at the Moon
No, really. Get out there and howl like a dog. Why is it that dogs howl at the moon anyway?
Want to hear a funny story? This one time, when I was a kid, we were on a big road trip and we stopped in Quartzite Arizona and camped with TONS of motorhomes. My dad noticed there was a full moon. What did he do? He leaned out the door of the motorhome and howled at the moon just for fun. The lady in the motorhome next to us didn’t know what to do she was surprised! But her dog thought it was great–he started howling along too! What a ruckus!
Look at the Moon
Get a closer look at the moon through binoculars or through a telescope. What does the surface look like?
Look at the Stars
You can find information about the stars you see in a star book, smart phone app, or on the Internet.
Groups of stars are called constellations and are a lot of fun to try and spot. Some of them even have stories behind them.
Look for Shooting / Falling Stars
Shooting stars are actually mini meteors and are made up of bits of rock that have fallen off comets or asteroids. They are often very small (the size of a pebble or smaller). The reason we can see these tiny bits is because they are burning up from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. When they disappear, it is because they have completely burned up.
Cool, huh? (Don’t forget to make a wish.)
Visit an Observatory
Check to see if there is a local observatory–sometimes they allow the general public in to look through their huge telescopes–it’s very, very cool!! Forget the moon and stars, check out the universe!
Find out when the Next Comet, Meteor Shower or Other Astronomical Event is Coming
This is something that you can research on the Internet or ask about at your local observatory. When the event comes, find a dark place away from street lights for the best viewing. Some cities have their own observatories where you can look at the stars.
Make your Own Constellation
On a clear, dark night look up at the stars. A constellation is a group of stars that someone has named. Usually the constellation looks like something and many have a story that goes with them. For example, there is Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper) which is shaped like a dipper or big spoon. It’s also called Little Bear and Little Dog. Little Bear comes from the Greek legend where a woman was turned into a bear and her lover put her in the sky–now she’s a constellation.
Look at the stars and see if you can see groups of stars that look like something. You can name them and create stories about them.
Watch the Northern Lights You will need cold air (winter is good), a dark sky (no streetlights), a view to the North, and good timing and good luck.
Many towns have their own fireworks that they send up during special occasions.
Catch a Firefly (Lightning Bugs)
Can you find one?
Go for a Night Walk with Your Family
On a clear night you may be able to see the stars. At Christmastime it is great to see all the Christmas lights. Either way, it is lovely to go for a nice little walk around the block. Maybe you’ll even hear crickets! (Does the world sound different at night?)
Looking for more? Try these pages:
Might I also suggest this time-saver…
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