Click to Explore the Outdoors
January 24, 2013

Click to Explore the Outdoors

There are plenty of times when you’d rather be outside but you are stuck inside: When slush, rather than snow, is falling from the sky, your kid is home sick with the flu, or you’re waiting for a delivery and your window is “9 a.m. to 3 p.m.” on a particular day.  For times like these, salvation takes the form of ParKids NYC, a robust section of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation website made just for kids. 

Bee-lieve It or Not

“Did you know that bees dance to instruct each other where to find pollen?”  In fact, we did not!  But now we do thanks to the game Dancin’ Bee, which has players press arrows to try to follow bees doing dances of increasing difficulty.  In addition to playing the game online, you can also dance around the room to the catchy tunes. 

The game Foraging Frenzy builds on what our children have learned in their Native American studies in school.  Players visit different New York landscapes and earn points for choosing edible foods over poisonous ones.  The plants are all local varieties—cherries, apples, and various nuts on the edible side, and Lily of the Valley, Jack in the Pulpit, and Clintonia among the poisonous. 

One game challenges children to find and match various parts of an animal to put it back together like a puzzle. In another, called Chain Reaction, players try to develop an urban park themselves. Another is Animal Detective, which invites players to choose one of five habitats in New York City—a meadow in Manhattan, a forest in Queens, a marsh or ocean in Brooklyn, and a pond in Staten Island—and then decipher clues about an animal. Players must then find the animal in the habitat. 

Local Information

The Library section is, as the name suggests, an area where kids can read about local birds, invertebrates, mammals, fish, herps, and plants. It may be helpful to read through these pages before launching into Animal Detective. A separate area is devoted to information about the city’s Park Ranger program: who they are, what they do, and where they work. 

Getting Involved

Being stuck inside is also a great time to check schedules and application deadlines for a whole host of outdoor activities run by the Parks Department, from sports programs and camps, to events at recreation centers and nature centers.  In addition, you can enroll in a program called Citizen Science, which invites you to sign up to help scientists gather information on your local park.  With adult supervision, children take water samples in their parks and then log the data on the password-secured website. You can join a ranger-led water quality program to participate, or you can purchase the water testing kits on your own. 


 

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Try letterboxing or geocaching, two pursuits in which you follow clues or GPS coordinates to find a hidden item. Kids love the goal and the reward.



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