12 Months of Outdoors Fun for Kids in 2016
New year’s resolutions look great in January but for most people, they’ve fallen through the cracks by June. The idea is simple. Do you like nature? Is family health one of your goals? Do you daydream about fun adventures outside? With work, school and home, it’s easy to let the outdoors slip by. If you’re overwhelmed by the daily grind, I can help you stick to your goals all year.
Here are 12 months of outdoors fun for kids in 2016. Each month, you find ideas about activities and day trips. After your adventures, share them on social media and use the tags #outdoorskids and #frogmom.
Ready to be wild?
1 – JANUARY 2016 – BIRDWATCHING
Winter is the perfect time of year to get children interested in birdwatching (or birding), particularly if trees in your area lose their leaves. Get a cheap pair of binoculars and plan a day out to spot winter birds in the forest, around water and in open spaces.
To ID birds, check out resources offered by the Audubon Society and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. You may be lucky and live close to a bird preserve. If not, why not make it a full day adventure with family and friends? Don’t forget a hot picnic. It’s cold outside.
- January 4: reserve campgrounds for July 4th at National Parks except Yosemite (USA)
- January 15: reserve campground for Memorial Day at Yosemite National Park (USA)
- January 18: Fee free day at National Parks (USA)
- January 30-31: RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch (UK)
2 – FEBRUARY 2016 – SNOW FUN
Snow! Pow! Whether off-piste or on the bunny hill, let’s hope that you can take the kids out for some snow fun! It’s not really winter until you’ve been in a snow ball fight or until you’ve built a (small) snowman. A lot of you are accomplished skiers, but why not try something new like dogsledding, reindeer sledding, snow holing, building an igloo or snowshoeing? There’s way more to snow than straight boards. For more inspiration, check out 6 outdoors snow activities for kids and if you’re driving, be safe out there with the right car tires for snow driving.
Also in the snow department, it’s the time of the year to spot snowdrops (these delicate white flowers) in western European countryside! Not as cold, but very pretty sights indeed.
- February 2: Groundhog Day (Celebrate Groundhog Day and eat French crepes)
- February 12-15: Great Backyard Bird Count (USA)
- February 15: Reserve campground for July 4 at Yosemite National Park (USA)
3 – MARCH 2016 – SIGNS OF SPRING
Spring is when most people consider that their outdoors year really begins, with longer and warmer days. Obviously, you’ve already been out a bit and if you’ve been on walks around your home, there are plenty of opportunities for your kids to notice the change of seasons in nature. Don’t miss five outdoors activities to say “Hello, Spring!”and if you’re headed to the Bay Area, I have a list of 10 outdoors kids activities to celebrate spring.
- March 8-9: Supermoon and total solar eclipse (see Kids activities to prep a lunar eclipse)
- March 19: Vernal equinox, First day of spring
4 – APRIL 2016 – INTO THE WOODS
Slugs are back, deer and rabbits as well, it’s time to go an adventure into the woods! Whether you’re going wildlife tracking or waterfall hiking, April is a splendid month to invite some friends for full days out and if you’re feeling adventurous, for a night out under the stars? April is also (generally) the peak of cherry blossom season in Japan so if you’re headed there, don’t forget your camera!
April is also Earth Month, so help your kids to organize nature clean-ups.
Last but not least, April is the perfect month to organize an Unbirthday Tea Party and wear silly hats just like Alice and the Mad Hatter. If you’re around Oxford, you can follow this Alice in Wonderland trail with the kids.
- April 15: Reserve campground for Labor Day
- April 16-24: Fee-free days at National Parks (USA)
5 – MAY 2016 – GO CAMPING
At last! Every year, May is the month when my kids are more than ready to go camping with their friends during the long weekends. For inspiration, read a few camping posts on Frog Mom for guidance on how to get started.
- May 2: Early bank holiday (UK)
- May 30: Memorial Day (USA), Spring bank holiday (UK)
6 – JUNE 2016 – SEA AND WATER ADVENTURES
So it’s already June and you haven’t taken the kids splashing in the sea yet? If you don’t live near a coast, you have a good excuse but if you live near the coast, the sea s warming up and a quick dip is de rigueur! Before or when at the beach, remember these simple steps to save our oceans and if your local beach is warm enough, take the kids out for some snorkeling fun! Some places even have underwater trails to explore the local marine wildlife. Crazy, huh?
Whatever you do, do something special with the kids on June 21st for the summer solstice. Beach bonfire? Evening picnic? Play music in the woods?
- June 20: Summer solstice, first day of summer
- June 21: Music festivals
7 – JULY 2016 – MOUNTAIN DAYS
If spring snows haven’t extended their welcome, mountains are at their best for outdoors activities in July. Most trails are clear of snow, you can enjoy wildflowers at higher altitudes and the weather is generally quite reliable (contrary to August). It’s the perfect month to go backpacking with the kids! More traditionally, you can all go hiking, fell-walking, peak-bagging, munro-bagging, climbing or mountaineering.
- July 1: Canada Day (Canada)
- July 4: Independence Day (USA)
- July 14: Bastille Day (France)
8 – AUGUST 2016 – RIVER DAYS
Ever heard of how great rivers look in the late summer? Warmer water, lush vegetation, sunny days, who could not want to enjoy a river in August? You can extend that to lakes and the sea, of course. The good news is, there’s tons of very active possibilities on rivers, lakes and at the sea in the late summer. You can start with sailing and windsurfing or wild swimming, activities that will get the kids to exercise while they get their dose of vitamin D. If you feel like you want more, have you ever heard of canyoneering? It’s like climbing and swimming at the same time in river gorges. tons of fun and the perfect way to end the summer. And yes, whitewater rafting with kids is still the best in terms of thrills.
- August 12-13: Perseids Meteor Shower
- August 25-28: Fee free day at National Parks (USA)
9 – SEPTEMBER 2016 – LATE SUMMER CAMPING
Back to school! Each year, we manage to squeeze in a few weekends of camping in September when the Indian summer makes for gorgeous days and great day temperatures. Though we know that most fair weather is behind us, it’s still quite a treat. See if you can squeeze in a micro-camping-adventure this month, or go on a late summer wild swimming day.
- September 16: Supermoon, Perigean spring tide
- September 22: Autumnal equinox, first day of automn
- September 24: Fee free day at National Parks (USA)
10 – OCTOBER 2016 – FORAGING
Spring has wildflowers but fall has autumn fruits. We love foraging! October is when we always go on hikes with spare plastic bags or plastic containers, just in case we stumble upon a patch of blackberries or other delicious edible fruit. Check out these tips and tricks for an autumn nature feast or how to spice up a family hike and your dinner table.
- October 10: Thanksgiving (Canada)
- October 31: Halloween (USA), Samhain (Scotland)
11 – NOVEMBER 2016 – AUTUMN GLORY
While many autumn colors start changing in October, November is just plain glorious in New England, Canada and the northern part of the UK. To enjoy fall colors, you can go all Davy Crockett with a family canoe adventure or if your kids are big enough, you can find a canopy tree zipline to enjoy fall colors from above. You can even canoe to look for beavers. November is also a great time of year to visit botanical gardens around you and find which trees give the best shows.
- November 11: Fee free day at National Parks (USA)
- November 24: Thanksgiving (USA)
12 – DECEMBER 2016 – WINTER SOLSTICE
Hush, don’t be too loud. Winter is coming. With winter come days so short that you can take the kids orienteering at night during the school week and they’ll be back in bed as usual. Or you can take them ice skating outdoors for the holidays, gliding gracefully under wintry skies. On the shortest night of the year, make sure to celebrate with one of these winter solstice outdoors activities for kids. After all, it’s only once a year and you’re already in the party mood. Why not?
- December 13-14: Geminids Meteor Shower
- December 21: Winter solstice, first day of winter
This concludes my 2016 Kids Outdoors Calendar. I hope that you will enjoy it and please don’t hesitate to let me know what you think about it in the comments.
Cheerio, little frogs!