Edu Apps

Getting Kids Outside

Getting Kids Outside

Originally published in TEACH Magazine, May/June 2021 Issue

Spring has finally arrived, and with it, the opportunity to head outdoors. After a long winter cooped up inside, it’s more important than ever to make sure students are getting plenty of fresh air and exercise now that the weather is warmer. Here are some apps that can be used in the classroom, by students alone, or shared with parents and families to encourage kids to play outside and explore the natural world around them.

Audubon Bird Guide
(Free – iOS, Android, Website)

Help students develop wildlife observation skills with this birdwatching app. Developed by the non-profit environmental organization Audubon, this guide contains information on 800+ species of North American birds. Students can use features like size, colour, habitat, and voice to identify any birds they find. The app also contains a Sightings journal where users can record the species and location of all the birds they’ve seen—and even upload their best photos to share with fellow birders.

Charity Miles
(Free – iOS, Android)

Charity Miles empowers students to help others, just by being active! For every mile they log on the app—whether through indoor or outdoor walks, bikes, or runs—users can earn money for a charity of their choice. There are over 40 charities to select from, including: Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, the World Food Programme, and the World Wildlife Federation. Students can accumulate miles on their own or as part of a team.

Geocaching
(Free – iOS, Android)

By downloading the Geocaching app, students gain access to the location of millions of geocaches across the world. The modern-day version of treasure hunting, caches are smaller, waterproof containers that typically contain a logbook and other items. These caches are placed at specific locations, marked by coordinates. Using the app, students can navigate towards caches in their area.

Outdoor Family Fun with Plum
(Free – iOS, Android, Website)

This app was created by PBS Kids to encourage young children and their families to spend time outdoors. Kids can choose from over 150+ unique missions, such as taking selfies with trees, counting different groups of animals, or finding shapes in the clouds. Each day the app provides 5 suggested missions, but users can also browse the full mission list at any time. By completing missions, kids can unlock new ones, while also earning achievement badges. (Note that the website also contains additional resources for educators.)

Project Noah
(Free – Website)

Students can become citizen scientists by joining the Project Noah community. Designed to help people connect with nature and learn about wildlife, this platform allows its members to document their own wildlife sightings, participate in global missions to photograph wildlife, and create their own nature journals. Members can learn to identify wildlife species through the help of experts, Rangers, and the broad Noah community. The website also includes lesson plans and nature-focused activities for grades 2-6.