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When I was young, my father and I spent a lot of time exploring the natural world at night.


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up to hear the latest tips on getting your kids outside. For many of us, sending our kids outdoors to play until dinnertime is common practice. After the rigor of school schedules, they need exercise, fresh air and the freedom to play unbounded.

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But what activities can you do when the sun sets early and daylight fades by 4 or 5? If your children know to stay close to the house and are adventurous spirits, you can still encourage them to have fun in the dark. If they are old enough and clearly understand the limits you set in place.

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Play tag with flashlights. Players creep forwards and get as close as possible before being tagged by the flashlight.

The person who gets closest is the winner. Hide glowsticks or battery-powered candles in your yard ahead of time, then go out together to find them. Tell your children the boundaries and let them lead the way to see how many they can find.

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Give each person a flashlight, hold hands and set off into nature or just your backyard. What can you see when you look up? When you look down?

Fun outside with kids

What happens when you turn off your flashlight — can you still see anything? Head outside and find a comfortable place to sit.

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Ask everyone to stay quiet for several minutes, taking note of everything that they hear. When the time is right, share your observations. Then repeat the process to see if you hear anything different the second time.

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On a clear night, take a blanket outside, lie back and gaze at the stars. How many stars do they see? Any constellations or planets?

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Research ahead of time to see which ones might be visible. You can also consider keeping a Sky Journal.

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Use light-up or glow-in-the-dark frisbees and balls. Other options include light-up Rocket Copters.

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Or get creative and tape spoke lights to a beach ball! Everyone has a flashlight to begin with. While the seeker covers their eyes and counts, the hiders all find their hiding spot within predetermined boundaries and turn off their flashlights.

When time is up, the seeker uses their flashlight to see who they can find.

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Put on some music being mindful of your neighbors and go wild! Collect 6 empty soda bottles and 6 glow sticks. Put a glow stick in each bottle and set them in formation one in first row, two in second row, three in third row on a relatively flat spot in the yard.

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Choose a ball the larger the ball, the easier it should be and have fun! Ask your child to choose a favorite book and head outside for some fresh-air reading time. If permitted, have a campfire! Ask your children to help gather kindling preferably earlier in the day and lay the base for your fire.

Adventures after dark

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