7 Apps to Get Kids Outside Exploring this Summer - Washington FAMILY Magazine: Fun Things To Do

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7 Apps to Get Kids Outside Exploring this Summer

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Posted: Monday, July 9, 2018 11:19 am

For kids, summer means one thing: freedom. For most parents, this freedom begs the question: “How am I going to keep the kids entertained all break?”

You can only plan so many summer activities and trips to the pool before it becomes an exhausted effort. And it’s unrealistic to think that you need to keep your kids busy at all times — children benefit from being able to entertain themselves.

Yet, when their idea of personal entertainment turns into frequent “veg” sessions in front of the TV playing video games or watching back-to-back episodes of “Paw Patrol,” you might want to guide them in a more active direction.

These top-rated exploration apps will lure your kids off the couch and outside in nature for hours of boredom-crushing adventure!

1. Disneynature Explore

Disneynature Explore

Disneynature Explore encourages kids to discover nature from an animal’s perspective with a fun augmented reality experience. Choose between five different animals to experience their lives out in nature and observe their wildlife behaviors. The exciting 3D animal animation lets users see what it’s like to go hunting with a lion in the backyard, find bear tracks along the driveway, crack nuts with chimpanzees and view the world from up high through a butterfly’s eyes. The app also includes a Spanish-language option. Ages 4-8.

2. Plum’s Photo Hunt

Plum's Photo Hunt

In this PBS developed app, a friendly alien named Plum sends kids outdoors on photo missions to capture all kinds of wonderful things found in nature like flowers, trees, insects, shadows and more. With safety in mind, the app instructs kids to ask a parent’s permission before starting any photo mission. Once a photo hunt is completed, users can submit their pictures to be displayed on the PBS Kids’ Plum Landing website. Ages 6-9.

3. Meet the Insects: Forest Edition

Meet the Insects

This interactive app is jam-packed with resources on everything your kids would ever want to know about insects. Let them discover fun facts, watch mind-blowing videos and interact with animations by making insects come to life with the tap of a finger. Kids can also test their bug knowledge with photo quizzes and start their own observation journal to become an insect expert. Age 7+.

4. Leafsnap


Developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution, Leafsnap is one of the most extensive tree-identifying apps available. Its visual recognition software and collection of striking, high-resolution images help kids easily identify a wide-variety of trees and plants out in nature. It also provides fun games to help sharpen identification skills. Age 6+.

5. Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors

Nature Cat's Great Outdoors

Based on the PBS KIDS show, Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors is an app that will definitely get users excited to explore the vastness of nature. Your kids won’t get bored with over 100 daily adventure prompts catered to inside or outside play and specific weather conditions. Earn achievement badges and create an in-app art journal to store photos, notes, recorded nature sounds and digital drawings. Age 5+.

6. Star Chart

Star Chart

This virtual star chart is the perfect companion for family nights out on the patio. The app uses GPS technology and accurate 3D simulation of the visible universe to calculate in real time the location of every star, planet and moon visible from Earth. Simply point the device at a star to identify it. In addition, you can virtually explore all the planets of the solar system and 88 constellations with Star Chart’s dynamic visual effects and beautiful artwork by 17th-century astronomer Johananes Hevelius. Age 7+.

7. Geocaching


Make it a whole family outing by taking part in this massive, worldwide geocaching adventure. This app takes you on a real-life treasure hunt to find containers called geocaches that are hidden throughout almost every country on Earth. Once you find one, you sign and date the logbook and hide the item again. The free intro app walks you through the process with helpful tips, hints and instructions. You are likely to find the first few geocaches right in your neighborhood! This app is recommended for children with adult supervision.