11 Apps to Lure Kids Outdoors This Spring

There’s no question digital and mobile tech provide mesmerizing tools for kids today, but one of the fall-outs is lack of outdoor play and exercise.

A growing body of research shows that regular exposure to the outdoors may be just as important as exercise, especially for children. The result of doing both is an increased attention span, improved physical fitness and mental well-being, yet sometimes it’s tough to inspire kids to change their behavior. While we fully endorse unplugging completely to improve family bonding and exercise, sometimes a little extra coaxing might be needed.

What if mobile devices became a part of the solution? Interactive apps, journals, embedded GPS tracking, field guide applications and more can be used as lures to get our kids moving and active in the great outdoors. As the saying goes -- “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” -- so here’s 11 you might want to consider:


  1. Disneynature Explore (iPhone, iPad, free): Unlike other apps or games, this free, augmented

reality app from Disney Citizenship encourages kids to go outside, play in nature and have fun. Children 4-8 and their caregivers can search their own backyard to go on a hunt with a lion, view their surroundings through a butterfly’s eyes, follow tracks along with the bear to find its cub, crack a nut like a chimpanzee, and much more ! This Parents Choice Award winner includes a Spanish-language option and parenting section for learning and teaching kids about animals and ecosystems. Ages 4-8.

  1. Plum’s Creaturizer (iPhone, Android, free): Go on a nature adventure with Plum's Creaturizer! This Parents’ Choice “Gold” Award winner learning app from PBS Kids provides opportunities for kids and families to interact with nature in a thoughtful way and have fun exploring together. Kids and families can build wild creatures, then head outdoors to photograph them right in their own backyard. Age 5+

  2. Meet the Insects: Forest Edition (iPad, $4.99): Kids will be inspired to get outside and become