During the first lockdown, like most kids, mine didn’t get in a car for months on end. All of our daily exercise started and finished at our front door. It was (mostly) good weather and most of the time the kids were keen to do our walk each day. Roll on into winter and Tier 4 and it seems to be more of a struggle. Even if you live in a beautiful rural location, after all this time the kids might be getting bored of the same old walks. Here are my suggestions to make local walks with the kids more fun.
There are a couple of different approaches that you can take make things more fun, and therefore the kids more lively to want to come. You can either do an activity that makes you stop and focus on what’s around you. Or you can do something that turns the walk into a game (or, even better, something that does both)
Take a photography walk
One of my 11 screen free activities to do with the kids is to take a photography walk. Ideally give the kids their own camera to use but, of course, using a phone is fine. You could take along some toys as props like we did. Alternatively you could get the kids to take photos of things that they find interesting, or use the camera to see things from a new angle.
Make sure they get chance to look through and share their photos after the walk. They could make a storyboard using them or create a slideshow for friends and family.
How many different textures can you find on your family walks? Make some rubbings along the way to see how they all compare. I’m sure we’ve all done bark rubbings as a kid, but doing them on paper can be very frustrating as it rips too easily. As a more practical option switch the paper for fabric. You can use old bed sheets, t-shirts or a canvas bag. As long as it’s a light colour then you’re good to go. A chunky toddler crayon will give you best rubbings as well.
One way to make walks with the kids more fun is to create a sound map. The next time you go on a walk take some cardboard and pens with you. Make a note of all the sounds you can hear. Depending on your child’s age, and preferences, you could do little drawings, write what’s making the sound or write the sound itself. Compare the different sound maps that you can make on different walks, or at different times of day.
A journey stick is such a brilliant way to record the things you see on your walks with the kids. All you need to start is some some garden string. Then you’ll have to find a good stick to attach all of your finds to. If your kids are anything like mine then they’ll be excellent spotters of the perfect stick. Hundreds of them!!
As you’re walking around just use the garden string to bind your treasures to the stick as a record of your walk. We first came across this idea whilst on holiday in Cornwall several years ago. We still have that stick and I still look at it and smile.
There’s a family legend in our house around i-spy. We were playing in the car and Crazy Nanna said she could spy something beginning with S. After a very long and frustrating round it turned out she’d seen a sandbag that we’d driven past – and hadn’t seen another one since!! Ridiculous choices aside, i-spy is just as good on foot as it is in the car.
Scavenger hunts can introduce an element of competition to your family walks, whilst getting the kids to pay attention to what’s around them. There are loads of ones you can print off on-line – but try to make sure you’re likely to actually find the things on the list. There’s no point in having a woodlands focused scavenger hunt when you’re walking around your local streets! It’s also easy enough to make up your own, knowing your local neighbourhood and what they’re likely to be able to spot.
Gofindit is described as a scavenger hunt game. Basically there are various cards with a word on them and you have to find something that corresponds to the word. It’s an excellent way of coming up with your own, unique, scavenger hunt wherever you are. You can find out more about the game, and buy it for yourself from the Sensory Trust website.
Number or letter hunting
This variation of a scavenger hunt is particularly good for pre-schoolers and can help with number and letter recognition. It’s best played in an urban area. Either find, and/or name, as many letters and numbers as you can. Alternatively put together a list for them to find if you want to focus on particular letters or numbers.
One of the main things we’ve done to make our daily walks more fun in the winter is to do them by torchlight! We’ve walked the same routes lots of times, but it’s a totally different experience by torchlight. Anything to make something that’s exactly the same feel a bit more exciting.
Create your own wild trail
Creating your own wild trail is already a brilliant way to make walks with the kids more fun. It’s also a fantastic way to interact with a group of friends, in a completely socially distant way! Just use natural resources, such as sticks and leaves, to create a trail of arrows for the other group to follow.
Unleash your inner Anneka Rice! This is another way that you can make walks with the kids more fun, by including their friends in a totally socially distant way. The pre-prep involved also makes it into a longer activity to help keep the kids entertained. Hide clues around your local area, each leading to the next clue and then, ultimately to a small prize. Put the starter clue in an envelope and send it to your friend. Just make sure you’re on hand to offer any hints if they get lost!
If you don’t want to set up your own treasure hunt, then try hunting for other people’s treasures. There are loads of ways to get involved in Geocaching – have a look at the website to find out more.
Treasure Map Trails
If you live in Beds, Herts, Oxon or Bucks then check out Treasure Map Trails. They’re beautifully illustrated treasure maps of local town centres such as Aylesbury and St Albans. They’re a fascinating way of exploring places you already know, or places you’ve never been to before. Have a look at my review here. There are now maps available for Cambridge, Chester and Shrewsbury, with new ones being added all the time.
Making or reading maps is a simple way to make local walks with kids more fun and build some really important life skills. It allows you to safely explore places in your local area you’ve never been to before! The Footpathmap website is a good place to start if you want to map read. Or get the kids to make their own maps of the walks that you take. You can take a pad and paper out with you, sketch out the map whilst you’re there, and then add in the details later on.
Bugs are everywhere, and kids love them, so hunting for them is a good way to motivate the kids to get outside. There’s lots of children’s bug hunting kits available, but you don’t necessarily need them. All you really need is a willingness to turn over old logs and look in creepy places! You could even make your own pooter!
Hunt the rainbow
Whilst you’re out on your local walks with the kids, challenge them to find something representing all the colours of the rainbow to make it more fun. What can they see that’s Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet? They actually did something similar when we visited Belton House in Lincolnshire. (If you’re over that way they have the best National Trust playground in the country BTW!)
Find a different way and make your existing walks with the kids more fun
During the first lockdown the kids and I walked “to school” every single day before we started their school work. It was just a way to make sure they got out of the house for some fresh air every day. We had a set route that we would take, but after a few months we just had to switch it up. As lovely as old Aylesbury is, it gets less interesting after you’ve seen it for the hundredth day in a row!! The very simplest way to make local walks with the kids more fun is to (literally) take a different path!
I hope you’re found these activity suggestions helpful. I know that after all of the lockdowns we’re had the kids are probably getting bored of walking the same old routes again and again. Hopefully this can add some renewed interest to your daily exercise. If you live in Bucks, Beds, Oxon or Herts make sure you check out my reviews of local family walks as well.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook