Family Walks Made Fun
As the days get shorter, cooler and wetter, it gets harder and harder to enjoy a little outside time. Still, spending a little time outdoors is important for both you and your kids.
So if your outings are starting to feel a little monotonous, or you need a little inspiration to get out and about, here are some ideas to turn your simple walks into mini-adventures:
1. Pick up leaves and identify them at home. Kids love to pick up treasures along the way, so make a challenge to see how many different types of leaves you can find on a walk. Later, if your child is interested, you can try to match the leaves on the U.S. Forest Service website. If your child is really into leaves, you can start a Leafsnap account, a free mobile app that uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.
2. Include motor skill challenges to keep little ones interested. Can you hop this whole block or to that sign? Can you not step on any cracks, do the chicken walk, gallop like a horse, etc.? The kids can even make up their own challenges that will give them a little extra exercise while having fun, too.
3. Conduct a bird count. Ask your children how many birds they think they will see on the walk. Count and compare the results from different walks. Crafty mathematicians can even make a bar graph to color in the results from each walk. To make it a more focused target, just look for one type of bird that kids can easily identify, such as crows.
4. Play the “wave” game. How many waves can you get? See how many people you can get to wave back to you on your walk. This challenge is especially good for shaking off the blues or a bad mood. Smiles really are contagious.
5. Who are the people in your neighborhood? Use the classic Sesame Street song as a base and make up verses about your neighbors. Making up silly songs is a great way to practice rhyming.
6. Try a photo walk. Have your kids pick things to take photos of along the walk. An advance version of this activity: Make the photos clues for another parent or family member to guess where you went on your walk. You may even find you have a budding photographer on your hands.
7. Play Simon Says as you walk. It’s a great game for concentration, silliness and taking turns being the boss, which kids usually enjoy.
8. Play I Spy as you walk. This game is much better on walks than in a car; there are no worries about having already passed what was spied.
9. Learn some simple dances. The Bunny Hop and the Conga Line are great to include on your walk. They provide practice for coordination as well as a chance to help children learn right from left.
10. Take a destination walk. It’s always easier to walk if you have a purpose, so go somewhere special. Children are much less likely to wimp out on a walk if you are heading to the store for a piece of bubble gum or to the library for a book.
Walking is a great form of family exercise that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. So even if it requires rain boots and coats, get out there and walk together.
Photo by Steve Lambert.