Plum Landing: A WGBH Website Offering Fun Ideas for Outdoor Activities
August 27, 2014

It may seem odd to use space on our blog, which is focused on the outdoors, to write about a new website started by the media group WGBH, but it’s not too odd when you consider the organization’s educational focus.

From Sesame Street to WordGirl, WGBH’s children’s programming has always been creative and innovative---its newest project, Plum Landing, is no different. The multi-media project encourages kids to get outdoors and to connect with nature, in hopes that they will become better caretakers of our planet.

Using the premise of a space traveler, a character named Plum, who has longed to visit Earth, kids can go on real and virtual adventures to explore the world. The site suggests indoor/outdoor and science exploration adventures aimed at kids ages 6 to 9 and their caregivers. There are games, animations, videos, an app, a digital curriculum for afterschool and summer camps, and science activities for parents and kids to do together.

Examples of some of the hour-long activities for parents and kids are “Roots and Shoots,” where kids learn how plants obtain and store water; “Habitat Sweet Habitat” to learn about where animals live; and “Biodiversity Bingo,” to look for plants and animals in your neighborhood. You can download and print out the instructions, so you can minimize computer time, but there are short intro videos with kid hosts if you choose to kick off the activity that way.

Throughout the site, other ideas and projects offer ideas for getting kids engaged with the outdoors. Two ideas I especially like are below.

Family Field Notebook
Something as simple as a spiral notebook from the dollar store is a great place to record and share what you notice about your surroundings. TIP: Have your kids decorate and name it, and keep it in a common area so everyone can make entries in it. Encourage your kids to draw or write about the exciting things they find outdoors, such as a beautiful feather or a pattern in the clouds. You might even start a new tradition, such as reading out loud from the notebook every Friday evening.

Adopt a tree, shrub, or other plant in your neighborhood
What do its leaves and stems look like? Does it have buds? Flowers? Visit the plant once a month and jot down what it looks like in your Family Field Notebook. Take pictures of it and paste those in your notebook, too. Draw the big-picture view that includes the whole plant, and draw the up-close view of different parts of the plant.

Though the site has “parent” and “educator” sections, there’s no reason parents can’t go on the educator site and check out some of the programs there, which are from one to three hours. Plum Landing is a great example of harnessing children’s often constant interest in online media and directing it in a fun and rewarding way.


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Tip of the Day

Help a neighbor: Whether it’s the season for shoveling snow, raking leaves, or weeding their garden, your kids will get double benefits from being outdoors and building community.

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