Get out there!

Kids need nature play and outdoor activities. But when there are 1,000 free cool games on the iPad, you’re facing an uphill battle, even in summer — unless you get creative and get excited to try new things.

Here are just a few of the latest outdoors books perfectly tailored to families in need of inspiration and motivation:

M Is for Minnesota

Created in collaboration with the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, each page of this glossy hardcover features a short poem written by kids from the Jewish Big Brother / Big Sister program as part of the publisher’s See My State series. Some of the Minnesota highlights, geared toward ages 4 to 8, include K for kayaking, O for Ojibwe and W for walleye, “our great state fish.” / $13.99

Fantastic Forts: Inspiration for Wild Hideaways 

This ingenious guide is filled with ideas that can help you and the kids make a fort almost anywhere, out of almost anything — even from the base of your backyard trampoline. Fort themes include nature detective, fairy, miniature, party, beach, sleepover, treehouses and, our favorite, garden teepees. / $19.99

Backyard Ice Rink

Did you know you could build your own backyard ice rink for as little as $250? According to this “step-by-step guide for building your own hockey rink at home,” all you need is walls, supports and a liner (to hold the water). No, it won’t kill your grass, and, yes, you can even build one if your yard is sloped. Why are we telling you now? Because now — when you can actually see your backyard — is the time to start planning, and perhaps checking city ordinances. New Hampshire author Joe Proulx is the co-founder of Elite Backyard Rinks, a parts distributor and installer of home rinks. But don’t fear a sales pitch: This paperback focuses primarily on DIY construction and simple hardware store materials. / $19.95 


National Parks of the United States & National Parks Guide U.S.A.

The National Parks system turns 100 this year and to celebrate, National Geographic has published two information-packed guides — one for parents (500 pages) and another, more colorful 175-pager for ages 8 to 12. Both are glossy, gorgeous and full of ideas for families looking to explore the United States’ many natural and historic wonders. / $14.99 / $28