Can an app help you make the most of nature?

13th April 2018

Griffin Longley is the CEO of Nature Play Western Australia. He was the creative director for the Nature Passport app, which the organisation built with IslandWood, an environmental learning charity based in Seattle, USA.

The Outdoor Classroom Day resource pack was launched in the Nature Passport app today! To mark the occasion, we caught up with Griffin to discover how an app can help children, families and schools make the most of nature.

Is tech a barrier to children spending time outdoors?

I don’t think there’s any doubt that technology can be a barrier to children spending time in nature, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  I think finding ways to make technology a bridge, rather than a barrier, to nature is one of the great challenges of our timeI think it’s important to acknowledge that people can have multiple interests. You can love your iPad and your local national park at the same time.  

“Sometimes a little technology can help modern families and schools find the motivation to get outside.”

How did you identify the need to create an app?

What we have found at Nature Play WA is that there is a growing number of children who are suffering from a significant imbalance between nature play and time indoors on devices. If our only strategy to bring back a healthy balance is by telling children not to use technology, we are doomed to failure. Considering what a big part technology plays in modern life across all ages, that would be asking to remove themselves from the culture they have been born into. And that really isn’t realistic, or fair. 

Apps that encourage active time outdoors might be the key. We believe these apps should be a fun tool that don’t take too much time to use; we want children who use Nature Passport to be looking up at the world around them, not staring into their phone as they step on the neighbour’s flowers.

How can the app enable children to spend more time outdoors?

Nature Passport can introduce children to more than 100 (and growing) outdoor activities. Each one of the activities is designed to be fun and engaging, as well as introducing children, schools and families to ways of playing, learning, and exploring outdoors that can be carried on independently of the app.

“Nature Passport is designed to help you and the children in your care play, learn and explore outside.”

Can you share three tips for teachers and parents?

1. Make sure no one spends the whole time looking at the phone. I think the most important thing is to remember that Nature Passport is designed to help you and the children in your care play, learn and explore outside – so Take turns using the app and its interactive functions.

2. Look over the activities before your group goes out to play and bookmark the ones that suit where you are, how much time you have, and what you think will work for your group. You can find them easily on the go as well, but if you’re short on time – you might be taking a class outdoors for one lesson – then it’s good to plan ahead.

3. When you’re having a great time and the activity moves on from that described in the app, put your phone away and let your children’s imaginations take over. Nature Passport is a bridge to playing, learning and exploring, and if it has helped your children get started outdoors it has done its job.

“Nature Passport is a bridge to playing, learning and exploring, and if it has helped your children get started outdoors it has done its job.”

DOWNLOAD THE NATURE PASSPORT APP

The Nature Passport app is free and can be downloaded from both the App Store and Google Play Store. Visit the website for lots of useful information for families and teachers.

To access the ‘My Outdoor Classroom’ pack: 

  1. Download the Nature Passport app
  2. Click on ‘activities’
  3. Click ‘now’ when prompted: ‘New activities available! Download now?’
  4. Use the tick box to select the ‘My Outdoor Classroom’ pack, then hit ‘download’
  5. Wait for it to download, then explore the activities inside the app.

 

GET INVOLVED!

If you would like children to spend more time outdoors, sign up your class or whole school to Outdoor Classroom Day, and share your day’s activities on social media using #OutdoorClassroomDay

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Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

Thanks for joining the movement we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂 Check out the resources tabs for ideas for the day – and to make learning and play part of every day!

Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!!!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!!!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

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