Night activities for kids and adults

Looking for some nighttime adventure? Try these nighttime activities to explore the dark side!

Night hikes are always fun as they provide an educational opportunity and squelching fears of the dark while learning more about nocturnal time. A recent Michigan State University Extension article by Janis Brinn, “Summer science education in the dark: Night hikes,” highlights why night hikes are valuable and provides some sample activities. This article further expounds on the usefulness of night activities and provides additional activities that are educational and fun for both youth and adults.

Night activities teach us more about life after dark. Many animals are more active at night as opposed to the day. By learning about their adaptations, we become more sensitive to their traits and potentially develop our own senses further. Development of our own senses makes us better connected to our environment where we might otherwise not be aware of what goes on around us.

We rely on our sense of sight so much that at times our other senses are not utilized as much as they could. Here are some night activities to try to help create a greater sensitivity to the night.

  • Collect various smelling items in small containers for participants to try and determine what it is. Some items might be garlic, coffee, cinnamon, hunting lures, vanilla, dryer sheets, vinegar or even dirty socks! It is fun to hear responses, right or wrong.
  • In the dark, have participants draw the landscape or other pictures on white paper with a white crayon. Later, paint the sheet of paper with water color to show what was drawn. Have a discussion about what was difficult, challenging and easy or stands out. Does the picture look like they thought it would?
  • Walk a partner through a wooded area blindfolded without touching them. Communication skills are important to avoid bumping into a tree. This is also a great trust building activity. Discuss the challenges.
  • Share various items and try to identify what they are by feeling them. Some items to share can be pine cones, rocks, silly putty, food items or other common items. Use your imagination!
  • Play a game called “Bat and Moth.” In this game the bat tries to catch the moth by calling out “bat!” and each moth responds “moth!” The bat is blindfolded, but the moths are not. This game teaches adaptations of these creatures and a predator-prey relationship.
  • Use colored lenses over flashlights to see which works best at night. Red, green, blue and amber colored lenses can be found or try colored cellophane.
  • Try walking from one point to another without the use of any light. The darker the location, the better. First let your eyes acclimate to darkness. Go slow! You might be surprised what you see.
  • Go out at night during a full moon. Try another time during a new moon or the other moon phases.

Night activities are fun, educational and help us find out more about ourselves and nocturnal life. They are great activities for 4-H clubs, youth groups and families. As a follow-up, lots of reading and investigation can be found about animals that are active at night and what special adaptations they have to help them. Don’t be afraid of the ghosts and goblins as Halloween approaches. Young and old alike will enjoy these activities, but only after dark!

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