School's Out(side)

Plugging kids back into nature. 

The slow dawn of spring brings the sun’s warm rays, the smell of fresh grass emerging from the snow, the sound of birds returning home—and then the scream of a bored child brings you back to reality: this season is wet, muddy, and you’re not the only one who feels like cabin fever could be the demise of your family. Kids get just as crabby as adults during mud season, but unfortunately, can’t waste away their boredom with pints at the Bozone. This spring, instead of relying on digital entertainment, use some of these activities to combat cabin fever. 

Let It Grow
Spring is a great time to start a garden. Start by digging a plot and testing the soil like a scientist. (Kits are cheap and can be found at local nurseries and hardware stores.) Vegetables can be grown in a flat bed, a raised bed, or even small pots if you have limited space. Take a trek to the library to learn more about how to get started and what grows well in our region. Let your kids pick the seeds and be a part of the entire process—which means free weed-pulling in the summer.

Check It off the List
Design a nature lover’s scavenger hunt. Hunt for speckled rocks, red twigs, bugs, and animals.

Hike It Out
Southwest Montana has plenty of trails for little legs. The flat Sourdough Trail in Bozeman meanders by the creek, under groves of trees, and through fields. Missouri Headwaters State Park has interactive educational trails, great views from the bluffs, and places to swim when it’s warm. Suce Creek outside of Livingston offers plenty of adventure for the kids without the crowds.

Into Plein Air
Painting gives kids a chance to exert energy and show off some artistic skills. Why not do it outside? Let them paint an outdoor scene however they see it. Consider it fostering a child prodigy while creating less mess for you later.

Pirate Booty
Every kid dreams of finding a hidden treasure. So, bury one! Draw up a map and have the kids look for clues—in the woods, or your own backyard—and follow the trail to the treasure.

Hidden Gem
Out in the woods, ask kids why grasshoppers are green, or why certain birds are brown, and teach kids that camouflage isn’t just for hunting. What else is hiding in the woods? Encourage your kids to create their own natural camouflage out of sticks, mud, and leaves.

If you’re out of ideas, or need a break from the kiddos, enroll them in day- or week-long camps at Montana Outdoor Science School. Kids will learn about physics, engineering, rivers, and animals in fun, interactive environments with other kids.