At last, the weather seems to be cooperating enough to allow us quality outdoor time. A perhaps surprising number of shows on PBS Kids – such as “Curious George,” “Nature Cat,” “Molly of Denali” and “Wild Kratts,” among others – encourage children to get outside.

This highlights a distinguishing feature of quality educational media: one measure of success is whether it motivates off-screen activity. While we wish that a child would instinctively leap up and run outside after viewing an episode, in reality a parent or another adult usually needs to get involved to make outdoor action happen. Courtesy of, here are some activities that don’t require much preparation:

1. Walk slow with your heads down. See what forms of life you normally pass by without noticing, and take full advantage of little kids’ close-up views of the ground!

2. Go on a scavenger hunt. Make a list of things you would like to see in the natural world, then go out and find them! Nature Cat includes the following items in his list: something that smells good, a flying insect, an acorn or other seed, something rough and something beautiful.

3. Read a book outside. Grab a blanket and a snack, then read a story out loud to all who wish to hear it.

4. Make a fort. Convert that reading blanket into a roof with some string. Add cardboard and other materials to create a magical outdoor space.

For more ideas, get the free Nature Cat Great Outdoors app for daily suggestions for outside adventures, or visit for more tips.

Benjamin Kramer, Ph.D., is the director of education for Austin PBS.

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