We’ve talked about careful screen time management here at Nature For Kids before. It’s tough. Plus when it comes to the internet and technology it’s challenging to sort out the good from the bad.
That’s why I’ve been nervous about our 12-year-old son’s Christmas wishlist. He asked for a tablet. I was hesitant, but then he also asked for a snowboard for his birthday next month, so I’m happy to know he’s still anxious to get outside.
We decided the tablet was doable so we prepared ourselves by…
1. Setting up some guidelines to make sure it’s used for good.
2. Doing a little research and adding some educational nature apps along with some other fun games and movies so it’s ready to enjoy on Christmas morning.
Here are some of the nature friendly android apps we added:
- Mister Smarty Plants – A personal plant identification expert. Snap a pic of a unknown plant, flower, bush or shrub, enter a few details about it and hit submit. The community of plant experts will work on an ID and let you know when they have an answer.
- Google Sky Map - (android) free After one of his assignments in school he’s pretty obsessed with constellations so this will be super fun for him.
- Geography Quiz 3D - (android, ipad, iphone) free This one has fun quizzes and is laid out in a gameboard type format. Great for learning about the world we live in.
- Stack The States – (android) $.99 This is another one to help him learn more about geography!
- National Geographic’s GeoBee Challenge – (android) $1.99 Allows you to travel the world and test your smarts.
- The NASA app – Explains the projects NASA is working on and includes videos and activities.
- Periodic Table – No flashy graphics or slick videos, but this app is a solid resource for exploring the periodic table and individual elements. Plus it includes audio clips to aid in pronunciation, and a quiz mode to help students drill on the basics.
- MyNature Animal Tracks – (android) $4.99 Designed to aid you in animal track identification. Search by track size and shape in seven different illustrated categories to identify over 46 animals across North America.
We could only download apps for android but for you iPad users I came across these great apps I think you’d like:
- Jack Stalwart: Passport to Adventure (for iPad) $1
- Ranger Rick Apps – Includes six!
- Here’s a great list of mobile apps put together by the National Wildlife Federation
- And here’s some more…25+ Nature and Wildlife Mobile Apps
- National Geographic’s games and apps for kids
We also like a couple fun channels on Youtube that we’ll let him subscribe to…
- TEDed Youtube channel – Short engaging videos for kids that are mostly science based. Brought to you by the ever popular TED talks.
- Bored Shorts TV – They have all the Kid History and Kid Snippet movies that make us all laugh.
I found this information from Secure Mama to be super helpful when it came to Youtube usage for kids.
Here are the ground rules for the tablet that we’ve already discussed about implementing:
- Each download needs to be approved by us.
- It can only be used during designated screen time.
- It needs to be placed in the media basket at night.
- No browsing the internet or Youtube without us present.
To protect the tablet we got a case to cover it, because with four kids and two dogs around we’ve learned that everything is fragile. I have a tablet and it makes me feel so much more comfortable to put it in my backpack or have it in the car or camping with us when it is protected in a sturdy case. I have the Snugg Galaxy Tab 2 7 Case Cover and Flip Stand. It makes it easier to handle as well and keeps the screen from getting so many fingerprints and spills on it. The cover doubles as a flip stand and allows for free hand usage.
Although I’ve been a bit hesitant about this whole thing I’m looking forward to some star gazing on the trampoline, movie nights while camping in the tent and some quiet moments on long road trips!