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Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids

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Want to pry your kid away from the screen? Try these fun ideas: 

Design a nature-friendly backyard
Involve your tween in building a birdhouse, say, or planting a butterfly garden. (Find more ideas at Nwf.org/outside.) Motivate him to keep an eye on his creation by setting up an observation station nearby, with binoculars, a camera, and a journal.

Take a hike
Get your kid to help plan a trek to an enticing destination (like a waterfall). Then -- and this is key -- let him invite a friend. He'll be way more into a day trip if he's got a pal along.

Make a splash
Challenge him to a water fight. Use the old standards, like water balloons and squirt guns, or think outside the box with thick sponges, plastic cups, and squirt bottles. 

Tap into his techie side
Send your budding director outdoors with a digital video camera to film a movie with his friends. Or if you're feeling Spielberg-esque yourself, make up a video scavenger hunt: Give your kid a list of silly things to hunt down, and film as he finds them. He can upload the footage and relive the fun with you when the sun goes down.

Rebecca Cohen, author of 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids, has three more ideas:

Speed racer
Design an obstacle course in your backyard or at a local park. Climb over a log, touch a rock, race to the third tree, and run back!

Stick-athlon
Have everyone collect sticks and spell out letters, words, and special messages. Want to make the task tougher? Have them build a tunnel of branches to crawl through.

100-yard splash
The fun doesn't have to stop when it rains. Suit everyone up in rain gear, and head outside for a good ol' puddle-splashing jamboree. The one with the largest splash wins!

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