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I love spring! It’s a great time of year to head out on family walks.
There’s no snow or ice on the roads, and it’s not boiling hot outside yet. And, walking is a great way to get the kids to burn off some energy before quiet time!
The fresh air feels amazing, and everyone seems to calm down after being active outside.
But, sometimes just walking can get a bit boring. Especially if you’re doing basically the same route each time since it’s the best one for the wheelchair.
To make this time engaging and not boring, here are some simple ways to make family walks more fun. Many of these activities are also slightly educational. (Talk about learning on the go!)
As long as we aren’t walking too quickly, it’s so much fun to sing while we walk. The kids take turns picking songs. Silly songs are a big hit!
2. Change Up the Speed
I challenge my kids to alternate walking and jogging. It’s harder for me to go faster while pushing Owen in his wheelchair, but the kids all like it when I try (Owen giggles so much when we go faster!)
Instead of using times (jog for thirty seconds) I use landmarks (jog to the next power pole). This way everyone has a visual and I’m not staring at my watch or phone.
3. Check for Signs of Changing Seasons
If we’re taking a walk during a season change, I ask my kids to look closely for signs of the upcoming season.
As winter turns into spring they noticed:
- Water running in the ditch from melting snow
- Birds chirping
- The creek getting higher
- Snow levels shrinking
- Buds on the trees
- Green grass
- Warmer air
- Flowers blooming
As spring turns into summer, they notice:
- Hotter temperatures
- The water level in the creek getting lower
- More bugs
- Snakes basking
- Baby birds trying to fly
- Road work
- The beautiful green grass starting to dry up from lack of water
- Smoke in the air from all the nearby forest fires
And as we anticipate fall, they notice:
- Different colors of leaves
- The Tamarack trees changing colors
- Falling leaves
- Birds flying south
- Cooler temperatures
- Trucks driving by with people wearing hunter’s orange
- Deer with their antlers fully grown
- The sound of chainsaws filling the air as people cut their firewood
4. Play Follow the Leader
If you’re looking for a way to mix things up a bit on your family walk, playing follow the leader is fun.
Pick someone to be the leader first. I usually select the child of the day.
Once we have a leader, this person decides what we do. They might decide to jump or hop. Or twirl around. They get to pick!
Then, everyone else follows.
We change leaders fairly often, so everyone gets a turn. I use visual clues for this change so there’s no arguing (ie: you are the leader until we reach that flower bed, then it’s your sister’s turn.)
5. Alphabet Hunt
If you live in town and are walking, you can look for each letter of the alphabet. If you live in the boonies like us and there are no signs around, see if you can find something starting with each letter of the alphabet.
You may find:
- An airplane overhead
- A bubble from the gum
- The cat running across the field
- Deer scurrying up the mountain
- An eagle’s nest on the power pole
Keep going until you reach Z! You may have to decide to skip some letters. If we don’t see a quail, Q is pretty hard out here. So is X.
6. Rhyme Time
Pick one person to say a word aloud. Everyone else takes turns saying a word that rhymes with the word said.
Think of as many as you can, and then let another person pick the starting word.
7. I Spy!
I spy with my little eye, something yellow!
You’ve probably played this game before, and it’s easy to play while walking. Take turns spying things, and use your power of observation.
This is a fun “get to know you better” game.
One person starts by asking a question. Everyone else gives their answer. Here are some fun questions:
- Which RescueBot is your favorite? (Can be used with any favorite cartoon!)
- If you could go anywhere for a week, where would you go?
- What season is your favorite?
- What’s your favorite breakfast food?
- What are your favorite ice cream toppings?
- If you could meet any book character, who would it be?
- If you could go inside any book as a character, which book would you pick?
Questions can be anything you can think of! And this game encourages everyone to walk at the same pace so they don’t miss out.
9. Magnifying Glasses
When we aren’t in a hurry on the family walk, I love to bring a couple of magnifying glasses along. Kids can learn so much by looking at the world up close.
Encourage them to check out plants, bugs, rocks, and anything else they see. You can also have them draw a picture of their favorite enlarged object when they get back home.
10. Copy Cat
Listen carefully, and pick a sound that you hear to repeat. Then have everyone else guess what you sound like. This works with birds, vehicles, construction noise, and anything else that makes noise!
11. Turn Around
If you’re in a safe place where you don’t have to worry about traffic, turn around and walk backwards. It stretches a completely different set of muscles and is lots of fun!
Just remind your kids to look over their shoulders so they can make sure they aren’t going to run into anything. This activity helps them pay attention to where their body is compared to their surroundings.
12. Animal Walk
If you have younger kids on your family walk, this is a fun activity! Call out an animal and have everyone walk like that animal for a few steps. Here are some ideas:
13. Linked Up
Have everyone grab hands to form a human chain. Now, everyone has to walk in a single-file line.
The person in the front is the leader who makes sure the chain avoids obstacles. Don’t break the chain!
14. Shape Spy
Shapes are everywhere. Challenge your kids to find as many as possible. You may notice a circle man-hole cover, a triangle-shaped tree, or a rectangular building.
15. Photograph the Way
Bring along a digital camera or two (smartphones or tablets work well for this!). Have your kids take pictures along the way, taking turns if necessary.
When you get back home, take time to check out the photos. I love seeing the world through my kids’ eyes, and this is an easy way to make it happen.
16. Make a Boat
If you’re walking by any water, this is a fun activity. Give your kids a container before you leave, and encourage them to pick up natural items they find while they walk.
When you get close to the water, have everyone use their natural objects to make a boat. Large leaves work well as the base of the boat, but let you your child use her imagination.
No fair using anything man-made–we don’t want to pollute the water!
Once everyone is ready, put your boats in the water and watch them float.
17. Read the Tracks
If you’re off-road (or on a dirt road like us!), look closely for tracks. Then try to figure out what they are. Look for:
- Tire tracks from vehicles, bikes, or strollers
- Animal tracks
18. Cloud Watchers
Keep your eyes to the sky and see what shapes you can find hiding in the clouds. Try to piece what you find into a story.
Perhaps there’s a giant dragon sneaking up on a fish. Or a bear walking towards a tree.
Use your imagination and entertain each other! Does everyone see what you see, or do they see something different?
19. Story Time
Work together to tell a story. If you get stuck, use what you see around you for inspiration. Let everyone take turns adding details, new characters, and plot twists to your story.
Wrap it up at a logical point, or when no one can think of anything to add. Then start over again with a new story.
20. Nature Observer
Look around as you’re out and pay close attention to the nature around you. Talk about different types of flowers, the differences between conifers and deciduous trees, and anything else you notice.
When you get home, you can have your kids draw a picture of something they enjoyed from nature.
21. Street Safety
As you walk, wherever you go, talk to your kids about street safety. Be sure to practice what you preach–head to the crosswalks instead of jay walking, wait for the green lights, and always watch for cars.
Even if you’re in a rural area without much traffic, teach your kids to walk on the side of the road instead of down the middle. Safety is important anywhere!
What Activities Do You Add on Family Walks?
I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments!