10 Fun Outings and Activities (Your Kids Won't Know Are Educational)
There are countless educational TV shows, computer programs, and apps that you can use to help children learn important life skills. But even all of the modern-day technology is no substitute for real-life experience. Kids can learn much more than academic skills when they’re out in the world. As parents, it can be hard to constantly come up with new activities and ideas. The good news is, even simple, day-to-day activities can be educational for kids. Here are 10 educational activities you can do with your kids. Don’t worry, your kids will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning!
Just about every kid loves animals. Even if your son or daughter is afraid of some animals, he or she is more than likely intrigued by others. The best thing about a trip to the zoo is you can decide what you want to do. You can check out shows and attractions, give your kids a hands-on experience at the petting zoo, pick the exhibits you want to see, or attend special events. Check the website for your local zoo to see which attractions they offer and plan your trip in advance.
Your kids will learn to identify different animals and observe them in their habitats; ask your children questions about what they see, say the names of the animals aloud, and read them the facts that are on display. A trip to the zoo is also a great way to get outside and get a little exercise!
The Science Center
This one may not be a big secret, especially since it has “Science” in the title, but your kids will have so much fun with the hands-on exhibits and gadgets and gizmos, that they’ll forget all about it.
Science centers are great any time of year; they have holiday-related exhibits and shows during the winter, and during the summer, it’s a cool place to escape the heat!
You can do a quick Google search to find the closest Science center or children’s learning center in your area, and if you’re traveling, make sure to check out one of the 10 best science centers.
Note: Check with your child’s teacher before heading to the Science center, he or she may be able to get you discounted tickets or admission. Here’s a whole list of places teachers can visit for free or for a discounted price.
The Craft Store
While this isn’t a specific educational venue or attraction, you can turn a visit to the local craft store into a fun learning experience. Ask your son or daughter to help you pick out craft-store items for a special project. You can either let him or her know what you’re making ahead of time, or make it a mystery and encourage them to use their imagination!
When you get home, unload your materials and have a fun day encouraging your child’s creativity. Arts and crafts boost confidence and encourage kids to think creatively, with an open mind. Crafting is also a great way to help your child develop his or her fine motor skills and you can teach your child about shapes and colors.
Introduce your kids to the marvels and creatures who live under the sea! If your child is already familiar with some sea creatures, plan your day and make sure you see these aquatic animals. Most aquariums also have special shows you can watch to learn more about certain creatures or underwater environments. Your kids will love to see these animals up close, so head to the Aquarium for a fun hands-on, educational activity for kids of all ages!
Although there are some fantastic movies for kids, here, we’re specifically talking about performance theatre. Depending on your child’s attention span, it’s never too early to introduce your son or daughter to the arts. It’s a unique experience you can enjoy together and a fantastic learning opportunity for kids.
According to Child Magazine, "Theatre and drama enable children to recognise how to express themselves physically and emotionally in a healthy manner, help them understand under-developed parts of themselves, and assist them in putting things into perspective - all of which can go a long way to empowering them." Help your child develop an appreciation for the arts and foster important life and social skills they will use for years to come.
You may not want to spend all day with your kids at a museum, but you can certainly find lots of kid-friendly exhibits that your children will enjoy. Like theatre, museums broaden your child’s horizons and help them develop an appreciation for the arts. According to the Art Works Blog, “there’s no shortage of research indicating the benefits of museum visits for children. They can provide memorable, immersive learning experiences, provoke imagination, introduce unknown worlds and subject matter, and offer unique environments for quality time with family.”
Out to Eat
Taking your kids out to eat may not seem all that new and exciting, and depending on how many kids you have, it may seem stressful. If it’s not too much of an undertaking, however, you can turn a meal out into a learning experience. Take your kids to an ethnic restaurant where they can enjoy different types of foods like Indian food, Thai food, Japanese food or Chinese food. It’s a great opportunity to introduce your kids to different cultures and cuisines. This may require a little research, but while you wait for your food, you can share facts about the culture, language or cuisine. Encourage your kids to try different dishes and ask them what they like or dislike about the food, you never know what they might like!
Go to the Library
You can have hours of educational, free fun when you take your kids to the local library. Reading is fun and promotes imagination, plus, introducing your kids to books at a young age can help them develop their logical thinking, language and communication skills, and enhance their concentration and discipline. Let your kids pick out books and have fun reading them together!
Check your local library website to find the schedule for storytimes and events.
Exploring a national park with your kids is a great way to get outside and be active. Plus, it’s a fantastic opportunity to teach your kids about history, nature, and wildlife. Find a park where you can camp as a family or get a day pass and spend an afternoon checking out the trails. Not sure which parks are best for kids? Check out these recommendations from National Geographic.
Tip: If there aren’t any national parks near you and you’re not ready to take a family road trip, why not explore a new park in your area? It’s a great opportunity for your kids to get outside and get some exercise, and it gives your kids a chance to interact with other children which can help them learn compassion and kindness. Scientific studies show that spending time each day to cultivate an attitude of compassion promotes happiness and life satisfaction.
Stay at Home
Most of the ideas on our list have been activities that require you to go somewhere, but don’t forget about all the fun, educational opportunities you can do in your own home. Take your kids outside at night to gaze at the stars. Teach them about the solar system and the constellations.
Spend a day at home baking or cooking. You can teach your kids kitchen safety and how to measure and mix ingredients. Plus, your son or daughter will have a blast helping you cook or bake fun treats!
You can also play a board game or create your own. Following directions is part of playing any game, so this will help your kids develop their listening skills, and if you create your own board game, you’ll give them a chance to be creative and come up with their own ideas.
These activities are kid tested and parent approved, but with a little creativity, you can turn any activity into a learning experience. What are your favorite things to do with your friends? Let us know in the comments below!
Maile Proctor is a content editor and blogger. She writes on health and fitness, lifestyle and family, how-to articles and more. She has worked as a preschool teacher, camp counselor, youth leader, and after-school coordinator. She earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University.