Kids today may be great with digital technology; when it comes to understanding how nature works, however, they tend to be quite clueless. While children even a century ago were taught basic outdoors skills, navigating by the stars and all about local flora and fauna, kids today rarely venture far enough from home to learn much about the wonders of nature. Happily, there are a number of tech solutions that are up to the challenge. These are apps that help children gain an interest in the natural world around them.
Learning about the stars
Whether you like to take your kids out camping or only find time to pitch a tent in the backyard, gazing up at the stars together on a dark night is a wonderful way to bond. These times can be far more magical when you use them to introduce your children to a little astronomy — planets, stars, constellations, meteor showers, eclipses and planet conjunctions. Solaris Sky Calendar is a wonderful app to help make the hidden night sky come alive for your kids.
Learn about local plants and flowers
Not long ago, fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts shared with children of the family, their deep knowledge of the nature all around them. Today, even if you do love nature enough to do a little research, it’s likely that you won’t end up living in an area long enough. This is where apps like Pl@ntNet come in. Developed by scientists in France, Pl@ntNet comes with optical recognition for thousands of botanical species. All you need to do is to train your phone’s camera on a flower or leaf, and wait as the software identifies it with great accuracy.
There’s something for local wildlife, as well
Major cities usually have very little by way of wildlife. You wouldn’t even know there were birds other than sparrows, pigeons, starlings and gulls. When you venture even a little outside, however, you begin to see partridges, grouses, turkeys and even large mammals. Going bird spotting or wildlife watching is a lot more fun when you know what you’re looking at, however.
The Project Noah app is perfect for these missions. Since it isn’t usually easy to get a good picture of a bird or animal, it doesn’t work on optical recognition the way Pl@ntnet does. You do need to do a little searching, but all the information is right there in your app.
Learning to love nature doesn’t have to be all about learning the names of everything you see. There’s a lot to be said for simply hitting the trail and taking in the beauty of nature. If you want to give your kids an excuse to go out and explore the world, apps like SAS Survival Guide and The Outbound make it a lot of fun. The Outbound notifies you of every adventure opportunity available in the area. SAS Survival Guide, on the other hand, is great for any kid who wants to gain a few skills. Together with Weather Live Free, the weather app for Android smartphones, Bug Out Bag Survival Guide, Cures A-Z and Army Survival Guide, it can give a kid plenty of great reasons to venture outdoors.
Modern technology may seem often to conspire to keep your kids indoors. If you know where to look, however, there’s a lot there to love.
Lilly Pearce is a Mom of three kids, 2 growing teens who don’t need her so much anymore, and a 7 year old daughter who still thinks hanging out with Mom can be fun! Lilly writes about parenting, technology and more in her articles.