Investigate the Outdoors This Summer

kids outdoors playing natureSpend your late summer and early fall exploring the nature of Iowa! The U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council public service campaign, Discover the Forest (available in Spanish, Descubre el Bosque), aims to inspire 8- to 12-year-olds and their parents to reconnect with nature. The program offers numerous helpful resources, including The Book of Stuff to Do Outside. This book shows how to have a scavenger hunt, find directions using a compass, and keep a nature journal. It can be downloaded for free at

Another Forest Service program that helps children connect with nature is the Junior Forest Ranger program. Children can complete the activities in the 18-page book to qualify for the Junior Forest Ranger pin and card. And when the summer is over, they can get ready to qualify for their Junior Snow Ranger designation.

Go Take a Hike

Kid and Parent HikingEarly fall is a great time for hiking. Hiking can offer hours of enjoyment, a lifetime of personal fitness, and is a great stress reliever. If it is a family hike, stronger bodies and wonderful memories can be a joint outcome. Don’t forget when choosing a trail to keep in mind the ages and abilities of the family members who will be taking part. Length of the hike and type of terrain are important to consider. Remember hats, sunglasses, and safe drinking water. Use a sunscreen and follow directions for reapplying. Sturdy, well-fitting shoes keep feet happy and injury-free. Don’t forget to include healthy trail snacks to provide fuel to keep everyone going strong. Enjoy!

Keeping Active When It Is Cold Outside

Family WalkBeing physically active can sometimes be a challenge when it is cold outside.  However, children still need 60 minutes or more and adults need 30 minutes or more daily of moderate physical activity.  Here are some tips to keep you and your family active when it is cold outside.

  1. Dress in layers and head outside for a family walk.
  2. Go sledding.
  3. Build a snowman.
  4. Try cross-country skiing.
  5. Turn on the music and dance!
  6. Check with your local park and recreation centers for organized indoor sports such as basketball.  They often have leagues for both children and adults.
  7. Choose an exergaming video game like Wii® Fit or Dance Dance Revolution
  8. Go to an indoor pool and swim laps.
  9. Check with the local school to see if it offers open gym in the evenings or on the weekends when community members can play basketball, walk, or participate in other active games.
  10. Limit TV and computer sedentary time to two hours or less daily.

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