School is out and kids and adults move to the outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and nature. Whether you enjoy the summer in your backyard, go camping, travel by car or plane, or take day trips outdoors in your local area, there are many ways to be active and rejuvenate this summer. Gifted kids and their parents need this time to slow the pace, relax a little, and enjoy each other in a way that isn’t usually possible during the school year.
This summer try using a smart device to enhance outdoor learning. Many people complain about the ‘screen time’ that kids get throughout the day all year long. I will not get into that controversy here. That is a topic for a future blog post. The benefit of using a smart device whether it is a smart phone or watch, a tablet, or other device is that information is in the palm of your hand and learning can take place on the spot. Examples of smart devices includes Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy, Amazon Fire Phone and Kindle, to name a few.
Being able to identify the insect or bird you see right now in the woods or in your backyard creates a ‘teachable moment’ that teachers, parents, and gifted kids cherish. Did you ever consider that your gifted student may get excited because they are able to teach you something while outside? What if the student could look up the bird and identify it before it flies off? That is learning at their fingertips. What if you are out hiking or walking in the woods and aren’t sure what that green leafy plant is all around you? Wouldn’t it be nice for your student to be able to look it up to see that it is poison ivy and you should all steer clear of it? What if you get lost on your walk through the woods or in a new city or town? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to find where you are on your device and figure out how to get back on track without getting too lost? These are all great benefits to using smart devices for purposeful learning in our summer activities.
Below are some apps for smart devices (a few with a website for those of you without a smart device) to help kids, teens, and adults enjoy the outdoors while exploring and learning together. This list is only a beginning. It doesn’t even scratch the surface of the apps that are available for smart devices, nor is it a rated list. I’ve listed free apps that are available on multiple platforms so if you use an Apple device (iOS), an Android, or other device you should be able to find something on the list for your device. If your student or you has an interest in a particular topic do a Google search, or search the app store for your device to find apps appropriate for your needs. The best thing about most of these apps is that kids can use them by themselves. That said, a parent should always be aware of what their student is doing online or with an app in order to appropriately monitor their activity.
Enjoy the outdoors as you explore near or far together this summer!
Free Outdoor Apps
NOAA Weather Radar and Alerts
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/noaa-weather- radar-live- doppler/id749133753?mt=8
SAS Survival Guide-Lite
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sas-survival- guide-lite/id363710835?mt=8
Android: http://www.amazon.com/Trellisys-net- Pvt-Ltd- Survival-Guide/dp/B006TK12HA
Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder Mobile App
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oh-ranger!- parkfinder/id402715941?mt=8
National Parks by National Geographic Society
iOS: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/mobile/apps/national-parks- by-national- geographic/
America’s National Parks
Passport: Your National Parks (National Parks Passport Companion)
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/passport-to- your-national/id502307055?mt=8
AllTrails Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails, GPS Tracker, Offline Topo Maps
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alltrails-hiking- mountain/id405075943?mt=8
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/map-my- hike-gps- hiking-tracker/id307861852?mt=8
Wisconsin DNR Official Mobile Apps
If you live in or will visit another state search for apps for that state.
1) The Official Guide for WI State Parks and Forests
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wisconsin-state- parks-forests/id891837013?ls=1&mt=8
2) The Official Guide for Wisconsin’s Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wisconsin-fishing- hunting/id745770899?mt=8
Virginia Tech Tree ID
Leafsnap (similar to Birdsnap)
Leafsnap website: http://leafsnap.com
Birdsnap (similar to Leafsnap)
Birdsnap website: http://birdsnap.com
Audubon Bird Guide
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/audubon-bird- guide-north-america/id333227386?mt=8&utm_source=app-landing&utm_medium=national&utm_campaign=iosapp
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Audubon-Birds- Pro-Field-American/dp/B004R49A4W?utm_source=app-landing&utm_medium=national&utm_campaign=amazon-app
Project Noah: Explore and document nature. Participate in research if desired (sign-in, location
identification, etc. required for research).
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Networked-Organisms- Project-Noah/dp/B0062Q9782
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sky-walk- free/id543615601?mt=8
Android: http://downloads.tomsguide.com/Star-Walk,0301- 59411.html
Fitbit App (track activity)
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fitbit/id462638897?mt=8&v0=WWW-NAUS- ITSTOP100-
Windows Store: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/apps/fitbit/9wzdncrfj1xx