I love partnering with organizations that encourage learning and exploration. This is a sponsored post with National Geographic Kids and may contain affiliate links.
We live in Tennessee and the winter weather finally set in well after Christmas. I woke up early and stood outside in the peace and quiet watching the the beautiful snowfall. It’s exciting to see, because we don’t get much and it doesn’t stay long.
“It’s Christmas now!!” my youngest exclaimed at the window when he got up.
My husband was even home for a snow day because of the roads, and it turned out to be a long, 3-day snowy weekend.
The youngest explorer couldn’t wait to get outside in it. He got dressed and made a beeline straight for his favorite thing sun, rain, shine, or… SNOW.
It’s so simple, isn’t it? The crunch and bounce of a fresh snow and gentle clang of the springs and just boing, boing, boing. There’s nothing better than hands-on, natural fun from Mother Nature.
We did all the usual winter fun things, snow angels, a brief snowball fight, and snow ice cream. They love to help gather up fresh snow in a big plastic bowl with a soup ladle. It’s important to scoop gently so we don’t eat twigs and leaves of course 🙂
After coming back inside and leaving all of our wet coats, clothes and boots in a heaping pile next to the door, we changed back into warm clothes and then we were like, ok so now what?
We all zoned out on electronics for a while and indulged in lazy long enough that we needed to find something to do before our minds turned into mush.
How Can You Explore Indoors?
It’s easy to explore outside but sometimes we need to get creative inside when the cabin fever starts to set in. 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.
It was nice to know we could still explore indoors even though the weather was bad outside. It also 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, big warm socks, blankets, snuggles, and mayyyybe spending a little too much time together, we came back around to exploring outside again.
The snow melted away and it was business as usual. But 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.