Little Learner Tech (part 2)

Outside Learning & Using Tech:

AJ on a mountain with a mountain behind him holding his black hiking had and his camera bag in front of him
The mountains are calling….

Continuing from the first part in using tech indoors that foster learning, here we are getting out and using tech to augment our learning.

In the PNW, the outdoors are an integral part for many of in our way of life or even our culture in this region. To offset the week of what can feel like the inevitable digital screen usage for a tot, I have made it a priority to take each weekend and dedicate time in the outdoors for adventures in the Whatcom and Skagit areas fit for a toddler. Granted not a hard ask for me or my tot as pre-Covid this was a regular thing in our family.

Learning in and about the outdoors, aside from imparting the obvious appreciation to our ecology and environment, also educates both children and adults on missing knowledge of the natural world, saftey, and common sense. And even out here, a screen can be tool that can even be used. After all, even the away-team in Star Trek they had to use Tricorders on new worlds to help deduce the new world around them…and now, so do we. So, that Tricorder, er..I mean smartphone, can be just that.


A part of iNataurlist, allows users to snap a picture of floral and fauna to help better identify it. Instead of Pokemon Go and catching fake AR pocket monster, parents can encourage their little to capture real ‘monsters’ or bugs and plants and collect them for identification digitally.


Combine that nature walk with the ability to produce a video of your trek with photos. Relive uses the GPS on your smartphone to follow you as you explore. On the free account you are able to have 10 photos (or live photos on iOS) on your route to produce a virtual tour on a 3d topographic rendered map. You are also able to add pins and icons to also include your your own way-points or things that happened.


Little kid on rocks near river holding bronze compass
Compass…the original PDA
  • Now, along with this, arm your tot with a compass. Giving them the starting knowledge of the cardinal directions and orienteering, but also can help link the area they live in their minds eye. For instance, my tot as equated that West is where the water lives, and East is where the snow mountain is. Which at 3years old is pretty solid understanding.
  • Pro tip, if you own a tracker or smartwatch that supports GPX data, you can import that tracking data into Relive to produce a map as well.


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is by far, one of the most used curriculum in my house hold. Cornell has a great YouTube channel for anyone who loves birds…who doesn’t like birds? Merlin is their bird identification and education app that will help you identify that bird …that keep pecking at your gutter waking you up at 4:30am each morning. Users can snap a picture and it will use it to try and identify it against 7500+ species in their database.


Get an actual camera in the hands of your toddler…not a smartphone

Kiddo with old Canon film camera taking picture of blocks

Have an old camera? Even if it an old point-and-shoot your forgot or a GoPro around the house that you are not using as a webcam; give it to your toddler. Let them roam and send them on a photo assignment, bonus points if you have a camera where it doesn’t have a screen and they have to think on how a photo might look. Let them take the best of the week and print it out, and voila you have an tech art assignment that is a weekly possible on your refrigerator door.