We love heading out for a good weekend walk. It presses the reset button after a long week, blows out the cobwebs, and is really special family time to reconnect. Sometimes it’s cool to find a new place to explore via a bit of an online search, or a recommendation from friends. But we’re also lucky to have a few local favourites up our sleeve, all nearby and suitable in different weather conditions.
Heading out to an ‘oldie but a goodie’ on the weekend means you can have no agenda and just let the little ones lead the way. You already know where the hazards are (if they exist) and can encourage the children onwards knowing that a favourite view, or tree, or headland to clamber over is just up ahead.
It also doesn’t matter if there’s no end destination in mind. You don’t have to walk the ‘whole track’ or complete the circuit – let the children determine how they’re going to enjoy their time outdoors. If you want to stop and spend most of your time pretending to be a squirrel family living up a tree, or throwing rocks into a rockpool, then so be it! The main thing is that you’re spending quality time with each other outside – away from screens, and exploring, learning and playing together.
Here are five ideas for things to do while you’re out on your weekend walk. If you have a small person who is grouchy at being dragged away from the TV, or is complaining that they’re JUST TOO TIRED (and we all have those days!) some of these ideas might work as a method of distraction 😉
1. The ‘tails’ game: have a competition to see how many different kinds of ‘tails’ you can find on your walk. Look for sticks, long palm fronds or leaves, pieces of kelp – anything that looks like it would make a good tail! Some will be straight, some will be curly, some will be long, some might be fluffy. The children can walk or run or hop along holding their new ‘tails’ behind them. Use this as the start of a discussion about the varying types of tails that different animals have, and what they use them for.
2. Build a dam! If you are by the sea, an estuary, or have a little stream, creek or brook nearby then you’re in luck. Kids (of all ages, even the ‘grown up’ ones) adore making dams and this can be a great exercise in team work. Watch as you divert the water flow in different places and see how your little engineers trouble-shoot and problem-solve together. Warning: you could be there for hours! One of the most fun parts is knocking it all down when it’s time to go 🙂 make sure the natural water flow is re-established before you leave.
3. Have a picnic. Stopping for snacks is satisfying, and besides, food always tastes so much better outdoors! Talk about taking your rubbish with you – this can merge into a conversation about things which are biodegradable (eg mandarin skins) and things that aren’t (eg ziploc bags). What do the terms reduce, re-use, and recycle mean?
4. Which kinds of birds live in your local area? Try to keep quiet for a little while and observe. Listen for their calls and see how different they are. Can your child recognise any of the birds? Are there any birds nests in the trees around you, or burrows in the ground?
5. Rocks – kids love ’em, and why wouldn’t you! They have so many uses…you can throw them into rockpools or puddles, you can climb them, you can build rock cairns or ‘rock people’. Find a pet rock to take home! You can also play a game of building a rock tower – it’s kind of like the reverse of Jenga (and an outdoor version!) Everyone takes turns to select a small rock and place it on top of the tower, higher and higher…until eventually, somebody’s rock will topple the lot and you have to start over again.
I hope you enjoy your next weekend jaunt! There’s heaps of things that could be added to this list…what are your suggestions? Please comment below!
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