Are you in a walk rut?
Are your kids resisting walks because they are bored? Looking for Outdoor Learning Activities for Kids to keep them occupied?
The below tips and tricks to making walks fun will help get your kids back outside and enjoying family time and getting more exercise.
UPDATE: I expanded the list with a little help from my friends, keep reading for all of our tips and outdoor learning activities for kids to keep them engaged outside.
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Benefits of Walking with Kids
According to the University of Toronto, most school-aged children aren’t getting enough physical activity and aren’t coming close to the recommended 12,000 steps a day.
So a daily walk is highly recommended.
Walking also helps reduce stress, improve immune function and encourage creativity (source)
9 Outdoor Learning Activities for Kids
Bring along a Magnifying Glass
Bringing a magnifying glass lets you see things in a different way.
You may have passed the same tree 100 times before, but has your child REALLY looked at the bark?
By holding up a magnifying glass to a flower you can see the different parts of the flower. You can chat about how bees get the pollen or how the petals on this flower are different from that flower.
I used an office magnifying glass I picked up at Walmart, but there are also kid friendly ones with shatterproof glass.
We were also just gifted a kid friendly binocular set which we have just taken out on a walk with similar interest.
This is a good project because it takes a few steps.
You need to find the rocks, clean the rocks, paint the rocks and then place the rocks on your next walk.
You also get to keep looking for your rocks on your future walks and see if they’ve moved or if someone has added to your collection.
When we painted our rocks my daughter said ‘we’ve never done this before!’ And now when we walk through the woods we point out her rocks.
Tip: You need acrylic paint, not washable. This set is easy for kids to use for painting rocks and other projects (non-toxic)
If you don’t want to collect rocks, you can buy a whole set from Amazon with rocks included.
Carissa from I Love Painted Rocks has ALL the rules and tips on hiding and painting rocks. Did you know there are Facebook groups dedicated to playing Hide & Seek with rocks?
Give Them A Camera
I haven’t used my old ‘clubbing’ digital camera in many years (aging myself ha!). So I dug it out and gave it to my 3 year old.
If that makes you nervous, there are lots of budget friendly, kid friendly cameras available online.
Printing a few of their photos afterwards and displaying them will encourage them to keep it up.
Get in the Car Before You Walk
What I mean is drive to a new area and explore somewhere new.
There is a great site called AllTrails that shows you walking and hiking trails near you with reviews and pictures so you can find family friendly trails.
Exploring somewhere new can really bring back the excitement for walks. I live for the weekends when my husband is home so we can all go explore somewhere new.
There are a few different ways to do this.
On Your Own:
As a family you can head out with a list of things to find. You can choose a prize if that will help motivate your kids out the door!
Here are a few free printables:
Nature Scavenger Hunt For Kids – Maple Planners
Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt For Kids – 4 The Love of Food Blog
With the Neighborhood:
If you are part of a neighborhood Facebook group you can get multiple families involved in a neighborhood scavenger hunt for chalk drawings.
Tiffany from Saving Talents has a free printable and tips on how to organize it.
Marie from Beautiful Day has another neighborhood/family scavenger hunt that ties in the camera from Idea #3.
‘When we go on walks we make photo scavenger hunts of things we see around the neighborhood by just snapping a pic with our phone and sending the pictures to friends and families in our neighborhood and then they can use our pictures as a scavenger hunt on their walks.
When they find it they snap a pic and send it to us to show that they found it.
And, the other kids can make a photo hunt for us and send them back!
It’s easy, no prep required and free.
Perfect for younger kids, Britni from Play Party Plan has come up with a silly game using a deck of cards to keep her son entertained on their walks.
Cindy from Living For The Sunshine recommends a balance bike for younger kids:
‘Invest in a balance bike for your toddler/preschoolers who is too old for a stroller, but too young to complete a full walk on their own (or too distractible) They’ll be able to keep up to adults and older siblings and have fun!’
These were shorter walks, because inevitably your kid won’t want to push them anymore and you will get stuck doing it.
For little ones, wearing a costume can motivate them to tour the neighborhood.
Neighbors often comment on my daughters costume as we pass them and she loves it!
You can also make accessories on your walk. Carissa from Creative Green Living has a great post on making a Fairy Bracelet. You could make it a ‘Warrior Bracelet’ or ‘Armor’ for the boys.
For those that are homeschooling right now and teaching numbers and letters, Gale from Imaginative Homeschooling recommends your kids ‘ try to name the letters on parked car license plates, and the numbers on mailboxes and such.‘ as you walk the neighborhood.
It brings the classroom outdoors and they may not notice that their ‘learning’.
Conclusion: Outdoor Learning Activities for Kids on Your Walks
Walks are great ways to burn some energy and learn about nature or keep connected to the neighborhood. I hope the above 9 tips bring some excitement to your next family walks. Happy Hiking!