Walking games can be more than a fun way to get outside and let young children blow off steam. Turn a walk around the neighborhood into a game, and you can help kids learn how to count, identify new colors, listen, and observe. A walking game can engage your family in new adventures when children build self-confidence climbing a tree or exploring a new place. Here are 10 walking games that are a perfect excuse to play.
Look at your neighborhood from a new view.
Look at things from a different perspective. Take along binoculars and follow birds in flight. Bring a magnifying glass and stop to examine a blade of grass or an ant.
Go on a counting walk.
It’s fun to learn numbers on a counting walk, and it’s a great game for children who already can count. How many bicycles can you spot in your neighborhood? How many dogs? Pick out one thing that’s always around on your walk and keep score of how many you find.
Turn the walk into a game of “I Spy.”
Make the clues easy but fun. “I spy something with four wheels that’s big and yellow and headed toward the school.” The winning guesser gets to make up the next clue.
Plan a scavenger hunt.
Make a list of the things you want to find. Go in search of textures, colors, and even sizes. Look for items that are hard or soft, big or small, moving or motionless, rough or smooth. Leave room on your paper to list the things you discover. Take pictures of your finds.
Find a tree to climb.
Small children will need a lot of help when they first start climbing trees, but they’ll learn quickly and have a lot of fun doing it. You can help a child figure out where to put hands and feet and to stay off tree limbs that might not be safe. Climbing a tree is challenging, and young climbers are rewarded with growing self-confidence and spatial awareness as they navigate branches.
Go hunting for colors.
See how many different colors you can find. Try to list many different shades of the same color. If you find a red flower, is it rose or crimson or salmon or rust?
Bring along your phone or camera and take photos of your walk. If your children are old enough, let them take the pictures. Use the photos to illustrate a book on construction paper that you can create by printing from home or having the photos mailed to you.
Go on a leaf collecting mission.
Collecting leaves is a popular activity in the fall when colors change from green to red, orange, and yellow. Take the kids on a mission to collect interesting backyard foliage, then help them preserve the leaves by pressing the collection under heavy books. Turn your leaves into a crafting project for more fun!
- Make leaf prints by painting one side of a leaf and placing the wet side onto a sheet of construction paper. (Make sure there’s not excess paint on the leaf or you’ll spoil the print.) Place another piece of scrap paper over the leaf and apply pressure. Gently pull away the scrap paper and the leaf, and you’ll have a neat stamp.
- A pressed leaf or flower glued to a blank card makes a birthday card that’s much more special than one from Hallmark. The grandparents will love it.
- Give kids a paper plate and have them cut a hole in the center of it. Glue leaves around the edges of the hole to cover up the paper plate and they’ll have a paper plate leaf wreath.
Discover sounds on a listening walk.
Explore the noises of your neighborhood. Is your neighborhood so quiet that the wind whistling through trees makes a murmur? Are there cars on the road so that you can only hear noisy traffic? Try to identify the sounds you hear and keep track of the different noises.
Look for a new hiking spot.
Trekking up a mountain or deep into the woods isn’t the only way to hike. Get out of the neighborhood, but stay local if taking young children on an extended excursion makes you nervous. You can have all the fun of a hike at a nearby park with a wooded area and paved paths. Keep it simple and let your children lead the way. Stop when they stop. Examine anything and everything that they want to look at. Let them get comfortable with exploring at their own pace by keeping it short. Stop and turn around for home when they are ready.