Monthly Archives: July 2012

5 Books to Encourage Your Kids to Play Outside

Yes, it’s summer, and a hot one in much of the United States. Even so, as parents we need to encourage our kids to play outside more. That’s not easy for everyone, especially if the kids don’t play outside as much as they ought to. Whatever the case, it’s time to haul the kids away from their favorite screen and get them to play outside. These books may help with ideas. Buy them or check for them at your local library.

This is important. Too many kids are spending way too little time outside these days. More children are obese. Kids on average spend too much time in front of one screen or another. All too few spend any time at all playing outside on their during any given week. Just compare that to your own childhood, when more kids spent significant parts of the day outside, playing. That’s what I want for my kids. More time outside, playing, just being kids and having fun.

1. Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids: A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors

Yes, how much you go outside matters quite a bit. If you go out more, your kids will follow. This book is about finding activities you can enjoy together as a family.

2. Great Big Book of Children’s Games: Over 450 Indoor & Outdoor Games for Kids (Ages 3-12)

Yes, this one is for indoor and outdoor games, but the big thing is to play away from the TV and computer screens. I like being reminded of the indoor games kids can play, as sometimes the weather’s not right for playing outside or you have other reasons for keeping the kids in. Doesn’t mean they have to start watching TV or playing on the computer, though.

3. I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature

Yes, you get to be involved too. This book is a reminder to look at the outdoors as a child, not an adult. If you want to help your kids learn about things like bugs, dirt, trees and all the other things they can discover outdoors, this should be a good book for you.

4. Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids

Need cheap, simple, quick ways to get outside? That’s what this book is all about. I hope you won’t spend only 15 minutes outside for all of these activities, but if that’s all you have, it’s better than nothing at all.

5. The Green Hour: A Daily Dose of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids

On the other hand, who says fifteen minutes is enough? Go for an hour a day. This book has a variety of projects and ideas for getting the kids to play outside.

13 Great Apps for Green Living

While iPhones, iPads and other such things have their own problems in an eco friendly lifestyle, they can also help you do better. Here are some apps that may help you, whether you’re looking for environmentally responsible food or want to take a hike.

1. AllTrails Hiking & Mountain Biking Trails, GPS Tracker, & Offline Topo Maps – AllTrails, Inc.
Are you ready to get out there and enjoy a nice hike or a challenging ride on your mountain bike? You can find trails near you or plan a trip elsewhere, or even submit your own hike to their listings by using GPS.

2. GoodGuide – GoodGuide, Inc.
Want to know if you’re buying safe, healthy products? What about how it rates on an environmental or social scale? The GoodGuide app has more than 170,000 products in its database. Scan the barcode and see what comes up.

3. EWG Sunscreen Buyer’s Guide – Environmental Working Group
The great part about the EWG’s sunscreen guide is that they’re so thorough in gathering the information about the many products they rate. They went through a variety of databases to come up with the health hazards from various products. They’ve reviewed more than 1,800 products, so you have a good chance of finding your sunscreen here.

4. iRecycle – Earth911, Inc.
Want to know where to recycle something? The iRecycle app might just have the answer for you. When you’re done with that, it goes beyond recycling to current green news.

5. Eco Chef 10 Minute Meals with Bryan Au – The App Company
Chef Brian Ayu shares simple raw, organic recipes in this app. The app includes HD videos showing you exactly how to prepare the recipes and use the recommended tools.

6. EcoChallenge – Raureif
Are you ready to take on an eco challenge? This app gives tips on ways to make your lifestyle more environmentally friendly. Some may be easy because you’ve already made changes, but others might make you think.

7. vegLookup – Josh Highland
Want to know if a food is vegetarian or vegan? This app can help.

8. Healthy Child Healthy World Pocket Guides – Spirit Quest World
This app may be a great resource for parents. There are a variety of guides to help you choose the right products for your children.

9. Locavore – Hevva Corp.
Want to know what’s in season in your area? This app knows. It can also help you find local farmer’s markets so you can buy that local produce. Not all farmer’s markets are listed, of course, but it’s a help.

10. Garden Tracker – Portable Databases
Planning a garden? This app can help you plan it out. It has a variety of vegetables preloaded, and you can set up a schedule of caring for your garden.

11. Skeptical Science – Shine Technologies
Ever get tired of arguing with climate change skeptics? This app can help you deal with many of the common claims made by such skeptics.

12. Label Lookup – SmartTools
Just what do the claims on the label mean? This app can help you figure out which claims mean anything.

13. The Recycler – Square One
A fun little game about recycling. Looks like a nice way to teach kids about recycling.

What are your favorites? I know I must have missed some.