One of the easiest and most well-loved activities you can do with your kids is taking a walk! Here are eight simple ways to make the most of it and get the best quality time out of walking.
1. Turn your walk into a science lesson
Everything outside can be turned into a science lesson. Even if your child isn’t old enough to ask questions like “why is the sky blue?” you can point out things around your neighborhood or park and explain them. Your explanations can vary from basic science to more technical based on your child’s age.
Even when Toot was only a year old, I still liked to explain more complex scientific ideas in hopes that she’ll turn out to be a genius. But I always start with a basic idea.
Some ideas for science lessons include:
- Why is grass green?
- Why do the cornfields turn into bean fields?
- What kind of bird is that?
- Why does the sidewalk have cracks?
- What lives in the lake?
- What makes the shadows?
2. Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses… Literally!
Sometimes you just have to stop and look at some pretty flowers. Of course, you shouldn’t let your kid pick someone else’s prize petunias, but I’m sure they won’t mind if you pick dandelions out of their yard.
A few of our neighbors have flowers around their mailboxes. Toot likes to stop and pet them. She won’t pick them, but she’ll gently pat them.
Please note: if you let your little one pet flowers, make sure they don’t get pollen all over themselves.
3. Teach new words
I like to point out new things and name them, so Toot learns new vocabulary words. I will also repeat some words each time we go out, so they stick in her brain. We often see a police car at the end of our street, and she knows what it is now. I will also sing the “Sirens say woo!” song from Daniel Tiger and she will repeat “woo!”
For older kids, you can define words rather than just point them out and say the word. Here are some examples:
- If you pass an attorney’s office, describe what lawyers do.
- See a line of different cars? Explain the differences and similarities between SUVs, cars, and trucks.
- Be specific about breeds of dogs you encounter.
4. Meet new people and pets on your walk
I have to admit that I’m not the most sociable person in the world. Interacting with strangers is not my forte, but I don’t want to deprive Toot of learning how to be courteous to neighbors.
Say hi to people you pass or make small talk. You’ll usually run into someone walking a dog. Dogs are great conversation starters especially if you have a little one that’s interested in them.
5. Make a scavenger hunt
Before you head out, make up a scavenger hunt of things to find along the way.
You can work as a team or whoever finds an item first can add it to their list. Whoever gets the most wins. Items can be actual things you find like types of leaves, flowers, or rocks. Or you can just do things you see like someone wearing headphones, a mail carrier, or a red car.
6. Play Pokemon Go or Other Similar Games
If your child is old enough to play, do it together! Join in the fun if you don’t already play. Taking an interest in what your kid likes is a great way to bond.
If you have a toddler or a baby and still want to play check out my previous post about How to Play Pokemon Go with a Toddler. It’s also a fun way to discover new areas of your community. Pokestops and gyms are usually located on public land like parks or monuments and museums that you may not have known were there.
7. Try new paths on your walk
We try to take a new route every once in a while. Going a completely different way can open up new experiences and provide new sights.
You can still experience your block differently if you walk in the opposite direction. I have a habit of turning right when we walk our block but sometimes I’ll start to the left.
We’re lucky to live in a neighborhood with lots of streets that loop around. There are so many different ways to go. If you have a neighborhood that is just one street up and back, think about going to a park to walk or find a walking/bike path in your town.
8. What’s that sound?
When adults go for a walk, we usually have our headphones in. When kids go for a walk, they like just to explore and listen to what’s around them. There are so many sounds that we learn to just tune out. Really listen to everything. Birds, planes, SUPERMAN… wait… Ok, maybe not Superman. But there are lots of sounds that may be new to your child. Describe what they are or make a game of it.
Bonus: What if the weather is bad, but you still want to go for a walk?
Sometimes the weather just sucks. It’s raining, too hot, or too cold. Take your kids for a walk around the mall or a big store like Target. You don’t have to buy anything (except maybe coffee… and ok a pretzel and some popcorn too.) Do laps around the store and people watch!
What are your favorite things to do when you take a walk with your kids?
Let me know in the comments below!
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