I love partnering with organizations that encourage learning and exploration. This is a sponsored post with National Geographic Kids and may contain affiliate links.
Of course we want to encourage you to get outside as much as humanly possible and explore the great outdoors together as a family. But the weather doesn’t always allow for that.
I grew up in Kansas and now live in Tennessee with yin-and-yang seasonal weather conditions. There’s searing heat, pouring rain and icy snow. We do all of the usual seasonal activities together, but then we just kind of look at each other and ask ourselves…
We all zone out on electronics for a while and indulge in lazy long enough that we need to find something to do before our minds turn into mush. We found several ways you can still explore inside to relieve the cabin fever that sets in. It’s awesome that you can explore both outside and inside with National Geographic Kids.
How Can You Explore Indoors?
We received a nice arsenal of new things to try from National Geographic Kids just before the holidays, so it came at the perfect time.
These are the things that we all enjoyed together and kept the kids from dismantling the house!
Here are our favorite things in the wicked-cool NatGeoKids arsenal:
1. Explore by Reading
You all know I’m crazy about the Weird But True book series because it’s instrumental in getting a completed reading log out of my oldest at school.
But in addition to cool, random facts about all things science, they recognize a big part of the scientific process is making mistakes and accidental discoveries. Hence the book Famous Fails.
Did you know the infamous Slinky toy is included in the book as a famous fail? (page 21) I was puzzled to see that at first.
The Slinky we all know and love started out as a failed invention. Richard James was an engineer creating a shock absorber to stabilize battleship equipment when he accidentally knocked the spring off of a shelf.
He saw something unique in how it fell and thought it might make a great toy, and the rest is history. Since then, enough Slinkys have been sold to wrap around the Earth 150 times.
The Famous Fails book has a lot of other surprises. They put several “mistakes” in the book for kids to find with an answer key in the back. A 2-page photo spread in the book is upside down, for instance 🙂
There are tons of beautiful, vibrant books available from NatGeoKids today, and you can’t go wrong with any of them!
2. Explore with Learning Games
Some of our regular game night favorites are Uno, Super Mario Chess and Battleship but we livened things up with fun brain teaser trivia.
The Brain Games Kids board game by National Geographic went over very well because (my 9 year old won) and there are lot of funny pictures, optical illusions and trick questions to keep you on your toes. Here are a few of our favorite cards:
Question: If this picture were taken on the Earth’s moon, what’s wrong with it? (answer below)
Answer: The moon appears in the sky. It wouldn’t be in the sky if you were standing on it!
Here’s another one we’re all probably curious about:
Question: Why do your fingers wrinkle after swimming or soaking in the tub?
Answer: The wrinkles improve your ability to grip slippery objects in wet conditions.
My 4 year old especially liked that one because he doesn’t think it’s time to get out of the bath tub until his hands are bumpy. 🙂
3. Explore with Live Videos
I’m not mad at electronics. You can watch wild animals in their native environments on a live video stream! We are big fans of National Geographic Kids’ SafariLIVE broadcasts on Facebook. They go live for about 10 minutes twice a day from various locations. They invite comments and questions during the live feed.
We have watched elephants walking around, lion prides sunbathing with cubs, giraffes eating leaves, leopards, wildebeests, and many more. A guide narrates where they are and what you are seeing as they drive around and stop to zoom in on the animals.
Check out this AMAZING broadcast of a mama elephant and her calf. National Geographic crews keep their distance while the cameras zoom in, but this elephant gets extremely close and (gently) personal in this one!
There are plenty of videos to enjoy, check out the video library here.
4. Explore with TV and Radio
Radio? Talk about kicking it old school. But yes, radio. Because it was so popular in book form, the Weird But True series has expanded into television and radio.
The Weird But True tv show airs on Saturday mornings on most FOX stations during Xploration Station. Check your local listings!
You can find The Weird But True satellite radio show via SiriusXM Radio on Kids Place Live, Channel 78. Check the Kids Place Live website for details on show times or listen to shows On Demand.
5. Explore with Virtual Reality
Escape reality altogether by strapping on a virtual reality headset and stepping into a whole new 360° world. We checked out the Dinosaur experience by National Geographic that works with a View-Master headset.
Yes, that View-Master, with the little red right-hand clicker device and the thin cardboard disks of old. They still sell the old ones, but this particular device works differently compared to the classic View-Master we’re used to.
It took me a minute to get it up and running, but I loved it and the kids couldn’t wait for their turns.
How Does the Headset Work?
It works by downloading an app, running the app on your phone and securing your phone inside the headset to see the virtual world in 3-D. (more about the disks below)
Let me tell you, if you have never seen someone try virtual reality for the first time before, you’re missing out! Hilarious.
The dinosaur encounters were our favorite feature. There were things happening all around us, and the dinosaurs came at us head on. A Tyrannosaurus Rex ran straight up to us, roared and then ran off. (It’s for kids so it isn’t too scary)
This cool video gives you a glimpse of what you’ll see. The underwater Spinosaurus is our favorite! (it’s a 360° video clip so you can move the view around)
What About the View-Master Disks?
The VR kit does come with a disk like we’re used to with the old school viewer, but the disk doesn’t go inside the viewer. Only your phone goes inside the viewer.
You look at the hard plastic disk on a well-lit, steady surface through the viewer with the app running. A small, hologram-style dinosaur image appears on top of the disk and you select the dinosaur you want to see in the viewer menu.
Honestly, we were so jazzed with the encounters, we didn’t use the disk much though it is a cool bonus.
After 3 days of having our fill of cool books, games, virtual reality, movies, snacks, snuggles, and mayyyybe spending a little too much time together, we came back around to exploring outside again.
So cool to know we have plenty of new tools to nurture our inner explorers no matter what it looks like outside.
National Geographic Kids has all the cool toys. Everybody knows that. Wink wink.