A really good way to entertain children without spending a fortune is to go out for a family walk. The thing about going out for a walk is it can last twenty minutes, an hour or all day if your want.
In this digital age when it is easy for all of us to stay hooked to our phones, tablets, or games console, research tells us that being outdoors has many other benefits.
A family walk is also free, good exercise and great for the whole family’s health and wellbeing. It is a good way to lift our mood, recharge the battery and even become a better problem solver.
A family walk can also be great fun and an easy way to bring your family together whatever shape or size it is.
A walk does not necessarily mean just walking from point A to point B. It can be a time to take in a bit of nature. If you need a little bit of inspiration, then the following guides are an opportunity for all family members to learn a little more about nature.
- The RSPB Children’s Guide To Nature Watching. This is not just fun but educational for children and parents too. And lets face it many small children have a fascination for ladybirds and snails.
- Learning about the different trees in a woodland is almost the start of a geography lesson. A good companion which will help unless you are already an authority on trees is RSPB First Book of Trees. And there is also its sister book RSPB My First Book of Garden Birds
Walk and talk
One of the other benefits about going for a walk, with just about anyone is it is a good time to have a serious one to one chat. When you are walking along with someone you can often have a more frank and open discussion that you might otherwise at home. The reason is that while you are walking, you are not looking at each other. It gives both parties space and time and is a lot less confrontational.
In fact if you need to have a chat with an awkward teenager taking them down to the park or a favoured open space and throwing in an ice cream or a chocolate treat in, can be a really good time to try and have a good old fashioned heart to heart.
Have a picnic
Take a picnic. It does not have to be a complicated menu. Grab whatever is available in the fridge and store cupboard or call into the supermarket on your way. It really doesn’t need to be perfect or complicated. And it certainly doesn’t need weeks of planning. Try not to be deterred by the weather. As long as everyone is well wrapped up whether it is winter, spring summer or autumn you can have a picnic.
- Games can include a good old fashioned game of hide and seek. The more grown up game of Man hunt where one team or person hunts the other, while the hunted team/person has to try to make it back to the base without being caught, is a great game for older children and adults. Even grandparent can have a part to play as they can just stay and guard the base.
- Build a den for a toy or find somewhere you can make a little hideout.
- Scavenger Hunts are great way to keep children entertained on a walk. You can either create a list of items everyone has to look for, or you can ask everyone to go and find something as they are walking along, which they find interesting or unusual. Whether it is a leaf, a stone or a spiders web it does not matter – it is all about the scavenging, searching and observing.
- Spying – is a great game. Whether it is a bird, a squirrel, snail or ant or maybe getting the kids to observe another member of your party. And then of course there is the old favourite of I spy. i-SPY Nature: What can you spot? (Collins Michelin i-SPY Guides)
Children love stories. Telling a story or creating a game of make-believe, when you go out for a family walk, or are having a day at the park or beach, can keep the kids occupied for hours quite happily.
As a prompt use your child’s favourite story book, or perhaps a story book you loved when you were a child. It could be a classic like Winnie the Poo or Alice in Wonderland. Copy the names that appear in Winnie the Pooh like “Dark Wood.”
Maybe a film has caught your children’s attention that you can build a creative game around. Set the scene for make-believe games, so you might say something along these lines to your children.
“I have heard from the robin in the garden that there are some very mysterious goings on in and I think we should go and investigate and take Teddy with us when we go on today’s walk”
Now Teddy may become the super sleuth detective, or he may become Prince of the Forest, Garden or Beach. That would be your call. Super Sleuth Detective Teddy may find Barbie’s jewellery, which of course is mysteriously planted not far from where you sit down to have a picnic. Or Teddy may discover a note which tells everyone that the fairy’s house has fallen down and they need to build a new one.
Let your imagination run riot – have a bit of fun and let the kids take up the gauntlet. Creative play is good for kids and I suspect parents as well.
Making a family walk fun
The trick with any day out is to make it fun and this is no different when going on a family walk. Whether it is just to your local park or somewhere a little further afield. Making this something which you do as a family will become part of your own families traditions and is a way of creating memories which will last a lifetime.