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The Great Indoors: Things to Explore When You Take a Break from the Outdoors

Posted on July 6, 2022 at 6:00 am

By Abra Cole

Ah, summer! The sun is shining (we hope), the grass is green, and pollen is everywhere.

For some of us, this is the season when we head outdoors as much as possible, to dig in the soil, go on walks, explore nature, and get dirty every day.

For others, none of this is part of their summer. Maybe allergies keep you indoors or an aversion to the heat. Maybe it’s the bugs.

With that in mind, I have ideas for summer that may appeal to you. They do involve adventure, gardening (but less heat and bugs!), and bears (but not real bears, don’t worry!).

Let’s Play Games!

You can find a nearly endless supply of outdoor and nature-themed board and card games designed for all ages and interests. Some are simple, some are complex, and all are a lot of fun.

If you like an aesthetically appealing game, you might try the PARKS Board Game (ages 10+) from Keymaster Games. This board game and others from the series feature art of the National Parks (fifty-nine parks series), and the games range from the complex, multi-player, multi-component options, to simpler single-player games like card-matching concentration. There are several expansion-pack options, and a deck of playing cards too! These games really will make you want to take scenic photos along the way!

Another beautiful game features the life cycle of a tree—Photosynthesis (ages 8+) from Blue Orange Games. It is a strategy game with a three-dimensional forest that teaches about the environment while simultaneously offering a visually engaging game play. It also has an expansion pack called Photosynthesis Expansion: Under the Moonlight to explore the forest at night. 

Explore the desert during your indoor adventure with the game Cactus (ages 6+), from designer Jordan Draper. This dexterity-friction-balancing game fits into a simple box, and the wooden pieces are simultaneously endearing and aggravating as you try to balance them atop one of five wooden cacti.

If you’re up for a worst-case-scenario pretend camping trip, try your hand at BEARS! Dice Game (ages 7+). This frantically risky dice pairing game is for 2–4 players, and you win this fast-paced game by surviving the campout as best as possible.

For anyone who wants to pretend to be a gardener, I suggest Abandon All Artichokes (ages 10+), Point Salad (ages 14+), and Bohnanza: To Bean or Not to Bean? (ages 12+).

Abandon All Artichokes is your not-so-garden-variety gardening card game where the goal is to get all your artichokes into the compost bin. The winner must shout: “Abandon All Artichokes!” to secure the win.

Point Salad is a strategic math game in which players work to plant the veggies to achieve the highest combined score.

Bohnanza is a game of cards featuring absurd, anthropomorphized beans—each one angling for a spot in the garden. Different types of beans are worth different points, and if you’re any good at card counting, this might be a fun one to try.  

If indoor plants are appealing to you, look no further than Tussie Mussie (ages 8+), the gorgeously colorful card game dedicated to the Victorian tradition of using flowers to send messages. After three rounds of flower arranging, the player with the most points wins the game (and the love of a Victorian suitor perhaps?).

Another indoor plant game is Verdant (ages 10+) from Flatout Games. For this game, players get to create the coziest spaces that they can by puzzling out the best way to arrange their plants for optimal light conditions within a 3-by-5 grid. The green thumb and fertilizer tokens help increase your verdancy, while the pet tokens add to overall points collected by the player (just like in real life!).

For younger players, try Toc Toc Woodman (all ages). Similar in some ways to Jenga, this dexterity game requires you to use a plastic axe to harvest a tree in just the right way. Channel your inner lumberjack to knock the wobbly tree sections back and forth to loosen the sections of bark for harvesting. The player who harvests the most bark at the end of the game wins!

Let’s Get Artsy!

Are you artsy? Whether you answered yes, no, or somewhat, you have options for all types of art dabbling. So let’s give art a try.

SCLD’s digital resource Creativebug is an excellent place to start for inspiring crafts, art projects, and quick, daily practice sessions. Creativebug offers thousands of art and craft classes that you can watch anytime, anywhere to explore your creative side and is available to all in-district library card holders.

You can check out easy-to-follow videos on a variety of crafting projects, including:

  • Making paper flowers (Link)
  • Creating dried flower candle shades (Link)
  • Crocheting your own corn on the cob (Link)
  • Making an owl figure that moves with animatronics (Link)
  • Creating Galaxy Slime (Link)

We also have books in our collection, both physical and digital items, that will spark your creativity and enjoyment of nature, while still indoors!

Book cover of "Natural Processes in Textile Art"

Don’t forget about our Digital Library and the loads of eBooks and audiobooks you can find using our digital resources for reading. Check out hoopla, OverDrive, TeenBookCloud, and others.

We also have librarian-curated booklists on OverDrive that can spark creativity and bring the outdoors directly to you with the Libby app.

Let’s Go on Virtual Tours!

Virtual tours come in several different styles. In the following examples, there are Google street-view tours, some 360-degree views of featured spots, and videos and/or photographs taken by drones and put to music or commentary.

Digital Resource Icon

Another great place to view virtual tours is our digital resource World Book. Once you are on the World Book website, you can select the “Student” portal and scroll down to “Featured Media” to find 360-degree tours and videos of places, people, and animals.

So many places can be explored virtually these days. If you’re not sure if a place has a virtual tour, you can do an online search to find out. For example, when you type “Machu Picchu virtual tour” into a Google search, several websites and YouTube videos show up in the first page of results.

Let’s Visit the Library!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the library as a source of adventure. Where else offers you an all-access pass to global escapades in the forms of giant coffee table books, travel documentaries, nature sounds, and photography guides?

Here are some examples of books in our collection that can provide insights into adventures that you can peruse from the great indoors.

Coffee Table Books


Sounds of Nature

Enjoy the sounds of nature without the nuisance of bugs! Kick back on your couch and listen to one of our nature-sounds CDs.

Whether you’re planning an epic road trip this summer that includes being outdoors 24/7 or planning to hunker down at home until the leaves start to change color, I hope one or more of these suggestions piqued your curiosity to try a new way to experience the beauty of our planet.

Abra Cole

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