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Cool outdoor activities for hot summer days — yes, outside!

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Cool outdoor activities for hot summer days — yes, outside!
Cool activities for hot summer days -- get kids outdoors in the summer! Look for the National Wildlife Federation Be Out There e-book guide soon.

Cool activities for hot summer days -- get kids outdoors in the summer! Look for the National Wildlife Federation Be Out There e-book guide soon.

Is it OK for kids play outside in the heat and bright sun of summer? Of course! I’m sharing outdoors summer tips in a forthcoming e-book by the National Wildlife Federation — and here is the scoop! Check out some of my tips below, and watch for the e-book soon.

Be Out There with National Wildlife Federation. Look for the e-book soon!

Be Out There with National Wildlife Federation. Look for the e-book soon!

See, I live in southern Florida. The temperature is in the 80s and 90s for most of the year — and the humidity makes it feel even hotter. So we know all about the oppressive heat of summer. The idea of having a Green Hour where my family gets outside to play and explore nature is excellent but definitely a challenge when sticky, sunny summers (aka Hurricane Season) roll around.

However, there’s no way my kids could stay indoors in the air conditioning for the season! My family takes precautions on hot, sunny days, but we still get outdoors.

Here are five ways to play it cool outdoors during the heat of the summer.

1. Play in the morning

If you can get your family outdoors before 9 am (10 am at the latest), you will get that fresh air and sunshine before the hottest part of the day. As a bonus, you are more likely to see wildlife out and about. Many species take cover in the heat of the day. Just like people do. Morning is also a good time to work in the garden. Even if you have a pot or two with some flowers, fruits or vegetables, gardening is a fun nature activity that most kids enjoy.

2. Play in the evening

Likewise, just before and after the sun goes down, it’s not as hot as midday. You also don’t have a chance of getting a sunburn. No UV Index! Evening is a great time to watch the sun set and to look for fireflies, swallows and other creatures. After dark, stargazing is a legitimate outdoor activity. Some parks offer guided night hikes, and that’s fun too. Along the coast, many people like to stroll the beach, looking for sea turtle nests in summer. There’s a lot to do at night!

3. Play with water

Water-based activities in summer are a given because water is cooling. Swim at the beach or pool, play in a water sprinkler, or have a neighborhood water blaster or water balloon fight. Let kids shoot or pour water over blocks of ice that you have frozen small toys inside. My family enjoys kayaking, and even though we don’t get too wet, just being on the water is refreshing. When you’re outside in the sunshine, though, use clothing and/or sunblock to prevent sunburn.

4. Play in the shade

Got trees? They can be a lifesaver in the summer. It’s cooler in the shade, no doubt about it. Tree cover in your yard or a park is a great place to play outdoor games, have a picnic or do some birdwatching. If you have your own yard but no trees, consider planting one for future shade — and think about a patio gazebo for some shady fun.

5. Play in the rain

It’s OK to play outside in the rain as long as there is no thunder or lightning and kids are dressed appropriately. Where I live, Florida depends on rain to cool things down in the summer. The temperature can drop 10 or more degrees in just a few minutes once the rain comes down. Rain is refreshing, and what kid doesn’t love jumping in puddles?

Summer heat can make us want to stay inside. But with a little planning and some fun ideas, there’s no reason not to enjoy the beauty of nature with your family during the long days of summer.

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