We all love our electronic devices, and kids are no exception. If you’re constantly trying to get your youngsters to put down their phones and go outside, maybe you should change your strategy — use their phones to make them want to get outside! These FREE apps allow your kids to interact with the outdoors with the help of their electronic devices. No more nagging them to “go out and play!”
Project Noah (Android, iOS) is a highly rated educational app that allows your child to submit pictures they’ve taken of plants, animals, and insects to share with the Project Noah community for help in identifying what they are. Users can see what kinds of wildlife other kids around the world have seen in their areas, too.
Kids can join “missions” like Global Schoolyard Bioblitz, which asks students and teachers to document wildlife spottings in their schoolyards, or Mission WILD, which asks for pictures of organisms in wilderness areas. Kids can even create their own missions for others to participate in! They’ll also earn virtual “patches” for achievements like participating in missions, submitting wildlife spottings, and commenting on others’ submissions.
SkyORB (Android, iOS) offers a universe of fun for your budding astronomer. They can enjoy real-time, 3-D representations of stars, planets, asteroids, and comets; point their phone to the sky to identify the name of the star, constellation, or planet on the screen; simulate what the sky looks like from anywhere in the world, and even from other planets; and receive notifications of astronomical events like extra-visible planets, full moons, or eclipses.
Disneynature Explore (iOS) allows kids to interact with virtual animals in real outdoor environments. Just point the camera at something — one activity asks you to point the camera at “something green or brown” — and animals appear in 3-D in the camera view screen. Then, kids can do simple puzzles or follow commands to get the animals to behave in certain ways, or see their environment from the animal’s point of view.
They can choose from adventures with a brown bear, a monarch butterfly, a chimpanzee, an African lion, and a sea turtle, with four activities for each animal. They can also earn virtual “pins” for their in-app achievements and keep a virtual journal of their adventures.
Moon Globe (Android, iOS) puts the moon in the palm of your hand. Using satellite technology, virtually explore the moon in real-time 3-D, and see where spacecrafts have landed, learn the names of areas of the moon’s terrain and it’s craters, and even see what your part of the world looks like from the moon! Once kids learn how to recognize the different areas of the moon, they can go outside and identify them like an expert.