Summer break is upon us and households have already begun pulling their bikes out of storage. Brakes are being checked, tires are being filled, and handlebar bells are enthusiastically ringing. It’s great that you and the kids will be getting outdoors to ride as a family, but did you know that you can also use the time to create valuable outdoor learning experiences? Not only does it add another layer of fun, it helps prevent learning loss that science shows occurs over summer vacation. In honor of the season (and UN-designated World Bike Day-June 3) we have provided some outdoor education “by bike” ideas below, activities that will work well in nearly any community across Canada.
3 Ways to Turn Family Bike Rides into Fun and Educational Outdoor Learning Experiences for Kids
1. Bike Through an Ecological Reserve
From coast to coast there are ecological reserves that boast numerous trails for the public to bike and enjoy. Find one near you that offers a lot of online information about the animals, insects (pollinators!) and plants natural to the area. Create a scavenger hunt checklist so that your kids know what to keep an eye out for as you ride along the trails. One great example is found in Lower Mainland – Boundary Bay Regional Park, which according to eBird, hosts 216 unique species of feathered friends, in addition to rabbits, frogs, salamanders, bees, garter snakes, flora, and so much more. The trail leads to and from a large beach, which increases the number of species to add to the list. In addition to finding an eco-park near your home, you can also add this learning activity to your vacation destination itinerary as there will surely be a bike rental in the area that you can take advantage of.
2. Community Garden Bike Tour
Start by creating a map of local community gardens that are close to a family friendly bike route. You can get the kids involved in the initial process by having them get creative with a paper map, and/or simply add the coordinates to your smartphone/tablet GPS app from the get-go. Each community garden and urban farm offers an opportunity to teach your children about horticulture, nutritious foods, and the entire seed to table process. Be sure to include one or two “u-pick” gardens (where possible) on your map and bring along a bike basket to load your two-wheeled vessels up with fresh fruit and veggies for refueling as you expend energy on your journey.
3. Mountain Biking (and Learning) Tour
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