4 Free Programs to Help Engage Your Child in the Seacoast Outdoors

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Many of us want our children to harbor a love and appreciation for the outdoors and nature, but struggle to implement a plan for learning and engagement. How can a forest compete with a tablet? Fortunately, we live in the Seacoast where there are tons of programs to help your family on your journey to more outdoor time. Here are four free programs to help engage your child in the Seacoast outdoors.

discovery bags at beach plum farm
My son loved exploring Beach Plum Farm Preserve with the Discovery Backpacks!

Discovery Backpacks at Beach Plum Farm Preserve in Ogunquit, ME

This was a huge hit with my kids. Discovery bags are backpacks full of tools to help kids engage in the outdoors. Binoculars, magnifying glasses, scavenger hunts, wildlife guides, coloring stuff all help children see the outdoors as a place to engage with and discover. It helps spark the senses of look, listen, and feel. My three and five year old loved unpacking the pack and using all the things on our nature walk. Although the nature walk is an easy, flat half mile, we spent 2 HOURS drawing, observing, listening, and searching nature. This program is free for families thanks to Great Works Regional Land Trust. The backpacks are available weekdays from 10-4. Parking is free. Find out more at GWRLT.

kid with discovery packpack
Collecting and observing nature is a great way for kids to engage in the outdoors!

Bayventure Grab N Go kit at Great Bay Discovery Center in Greenland, NH

Throughout 2021, The Great Bay Discovery Center in Greenland, New Hampshire is continuing to promote children’s education and connection with nature by providing their Grab N Go kits. Each Monday, they put out a new take home kit related to the natural world. Topics include mapping, the rock cycle, geocaching, and more! This program is free and available to anyone. While you’re there, take a stroll on their boardwalk loop trail – one of our favorite nature walks with toddlers! Learn more at the Discovery Center’s website.

kid at great bay discovery center
The Great Bay Discovery Center offers Grab N Go kits for the public every Monday.

Story Walk at Mount Agamenticus in York, ME

One of the challenges in engaging children in hiking is that they will struggle with the sustained activity of steady walking. Try the story walk at Mount Agamenticus! The Ring Trail has 24 stations – each with a new page of a story book. Your elementary age children will love reaching the next page of the story and never get that bored feeling on a hike. While my own young children might start to whine after a half mile of walking, they are able to walk double or even triple this length on a story walk. Mt A’s story walk begins from the lower (free) parking lot on the Ring Trail and is 1.3 total miles. Learn more on their website

story walk
Mount Agamenticus’s Story Walk will entertain your children along a 1.3 mile hike.

Beach Clean Up and Data Collection for Blue Ocean Society at Hampton Beach in NH

What a better way to become a steward of the planet than by helping it! Pre-Covid, the Blue Ocean Society held daily beach clean ups through the summer months. Now, they are offering their Digital Beach Clean Up. Arrange a clean up with friends and family and download their clean up list. Blue Ocean Society will use your data to better inform scientists and the public about beach trash. Want more? Schedule a 2021 visit to their Discovery Center right on the beach. They are open starting June 5 from 9 am to 5 pm daily. You can make an appointment for a 30 minute visit tour and time with the exhibits. After, participate in a clean up! Learn more on their website.

Have the professionals help you get outdoors

Even the most experienced nature mama appreciates the touch of a professional when it comes to environmental education. Thanks to the amazing programs in our area, I’ve been able to continue to share my love of the outdoors with my kids. These four free programs are just a sampling of ways to engage your child (and you) in the Seacoast outdoors!

Want more places in nature to explore with your family?  Follow @SeacoastHikes on Instagram and Facebook for local kid-friendly trails.

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