Have you heard of the #1000HoursOutside concept? This challenge is simple enough: to get kids outside for 1000 hours. The idea started when Ginny Yurich, Midwestern momma, saw that kids were spending 1200 hours on their screen! If kids can spend that much time on screens, surely they can aim to spend 1000 hours outside, right? YES! The global movement has encouraged families to get out, enjoy nature, and explore. Well, once I heard about #1000HoursOutside I was all in! (As you know, I’m all about challenges and lists.) And I got even more excited once I learned that Ginny came out with a new book 1000 Hours Outside, an activity book with even more ideas to get those hours in. (After all, sometimes playing at the park does get old.) Read on to find out what I thought about Ginny’s new book and then get to learn more about Ginny in this interview!

Disclosure: I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Links may contain affiliate links.

Highlights of 1000 Hours Outside Activity Book

The all-color activity book boasts over 50 different activities from garden and forest activities to art and farm visits. The best thing is that the these activities can be enjoyed year round and throughout different seasons. Once the kids got their hands on the book, they couldn’t wait to get started. In fact, they each bookmarked activities that they wanted to do. (Our book is basically filled with bookmarks BTW!)

What I loved about the book is that the activities don’t use a lot of materials. Most of the items used are those found in nature along with the kids imaginations! Some ideas like water play are simple yet open-ended. Others, like planting seed starters, require a little bit of prep work but are totally doable for busy families. We tried a few activities already and they were a hit! The kids can’t wait to try all the suggestions for snow fun.

Final Thoughts

We’re well on our way to accomplishing our goal of 1000 hours, and with the help of this book I am confident that we’ll surpass it! I absolutely loved this book and my kids do too. Go ahead, grab a copy, and get outside!

Will you take the challenge? What are some outside activities that you love to do?

Get to Know Ginny Yurich, Author of 1000 Hours Outside Activity Book

Q: How did the concept of 1000 hours outside come to be?

Ginny: 1000 Hours Outside evolved out of our own family’s experiences when our oldest kids were small. I found the early childhood years were absolutely grueling. I was always behind, always failing in keeping up with needs. A friend introduced us to the work of Charlotte Mason who recommended that children be outside for four to six hours a day whenever the weather was tolerable. This seemed like an absurd amount of time to me since normal kid activities such as classes or sports practices run for a much shorter length of time.

In the fall of 2011, we attempted one of these four hour days outdoors and it changed our lives. We packed a picnic lunch and spent from nine in the morning until one in the afternoon at a local park … and the kids just played. They occupied themselves. They were happy and engaged. They didn’t squabble amongst themselves. And it was the first good day I had as a mom because I could finally catch my breath.

In the years that followed, we changed our lifestyle to include these days of nature immersion, learning along the way that there is ample research supporting open-ended free play in nature as an amazing use of time. Outside is a place where kids make great strides cognitively, emotionally, socially and physically. Knowing how much nature play had changed our family, I decided to write about our experiences and put out this goal of matching nature time with screen time, a way to balance out childhood and fill it with memorable, hands-on experiences. By spending 1000 Hours Outside in a calendar year, parents will ensure kids get the sensory input they need from hands-on environments, they will model balance in an increasingly technological world, and they will make priceless memories.

Q: Any tips on how to achieve 1000 hours outside? Any recommendations for those that live in the city?

Ginny: My top tip is to schedule it in. Calendars quickly fill up and often nature time gets the back seat. There’s no one advertising to take a walk around your neighborhood or to go for a family bike ride. Often, parents aren’t aware of the tremendous benefits simple nature play provides – I know I wasn’t. By truly understanding how much we get out of simple nature experiences, it makes it easier to prioritize heading out the door.

Nature is all around us. Dr. Scott Sampson, author of How to Raise a Wild Child, says nature is shooting up between the cracks in the sidewalk. Nature is certainly in the city – bugs and birds and trees and squirrels and the big fluffy clouds. There’s lots to see, hear and observe when walking around any city block. Sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, and bubbles are great things to have with you in the city.

Q: Have you noticed any changes in your kids behavior as a result of spending time outdoors?

Ginny: Our kids began to noticeably thrive once we started spending time outside. All those nature experiences allow them to expend their energy in healthy ways. They are happier, less fussy, and sleep better at night. 

Q: What are some of your favorite activities from the book? What are some of the kid favorites?

Ginny: Our kids really enjoyed all of the activities in this book. It’s amazing how much simple nature activities hold the attention of children and even their grandparents. Their favorites were the open-ended ones that allowed for maximum creativity like the nature jewelry, nature enhanced drawings, and the flower pressed clay pots. It’s feels good to handle all of the natural materials and combine them together in ways that make beautiful things.

Other Ideas to Getting 1000 Hours Outside

  • Playgrounds, playgrounds, playgrounds. This summer we challenged ourselves to visit 100 playgrounds. We’re more than halfway done and are literally gone from the morning until lunchtime! It’s easy, it’s free, and fun!
  • Hikes. We’re well over halfway on our #52HikesChallenge and it’s been a blast!
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