Editor’s note: this article is a modified version of one originally published in 2013
After Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order on March 23, going out for family walks is one of the few recreation options permitted for families. Here are some ideas to make the most of your time outside, and turn your walks into mini-adventures.
Pick up leaves and flowers, 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.
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.
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.
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, and for giving your neighbors a little boost as they cope with social distancing.
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.
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.
Play Simon Says as you walk
It’s a great game for concentration, silliness and taking turns being the boss, which kids usually enjoy.
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.
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.
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.