Hogmanay (New Years Eve) is a great celebration here in Scotland – we get two days of public holidays after it to allow us to recover. Often Hogmanay was the big winter celebration; Boxing Day only became a public holiday in 1974. For me, there is no better way to start the year than getting out for a walk. It blows away the last of the cobwebs from the year before and allows me to start the year head on and feeling fresh.
But, I know walking with kids can be a little more challenging, it can even feel like a bit of an uphill struggle! So, this blog is filled with tips and ideas to help making a walk with kids less of a struggle and a lot more fun.
Make it into a scavenger hunt
Kids tend to love scavenger hunts, they are fun but they are also distracting. Kids often do not realise how far they are walking when they are hunting. You could have them searching for colours, things starting with the first letter of their name (or even the full alphabet), signs of winter, something beautiful (leads to great discussions), faeries and fae… the list is endless! You can even find tons of scavenger hunts online. Our membership has a category dedicated to them as well!
Instead of trying to distract older children from technology, we could utilise it. Geocaching is free and helps develop map skills. It is also much fun, though it can be frustrating when you know you are in the area and cannot locate the find. Still, it gets the kids looking up from their phones and exploring, and even gets families working together!
Whether you give your child a tiny matchbox, or a bigger bag, looking for finds can be a lot of fun and lead to a whole host of discussions on what they have found – from mushrooms to feather, we have even found a rotting deer skill on one walk! Remember, you do not always need to take the finds home at the end, or even pick them up. It also saves you from carrying an armload of sticks or pocketfuls of stones and cones.
Heads or Tails
We all love having a bit of control in life, but what if we give up control and go and get lost! A penny walk is a lot of fun. Each time you get to a new path or crossroads have the kids pick either heads for right or tails for left and see where you end up.
I may be 40 years old, but if I have a flask of hot chocolate with a wee sweet treat in my bag I am always more motivated to walk! I attribute this to my big kid side, as I know kids can be just the same. Knowing you have a hot chocolate to look forward to mid-walk can make it a lot more enticing! If we are out on a big walk, I have also been known to take a second flask and leave that in the ca,r so I can get another treat upon completion!
Make it Arty
Whether you are making a nature journal or making natural art (ala Andy Goldsworthy) while on the trail can help kids really look at their world and be creative. They can sketch something beautiful that they find or work together with you to make a bigger piece of art using natural finds.
Take the Pic
Another activity using technology! This time can they take photographs of things they find interesting, I especially love setting the micro or macro challenge – photos of tiny or huge things. It might be a tiny acorn or a huge oak, a single seed or a huge cloud.
Don’t Forget the Classics
i-spy is an old, old game but it is still around because it works and is fun. It helps support your child’s identification skills, their literacy and is fun so does not feel like work! A great and simple way to play as you walk.
Make the Most of What the Landscape Offers
Here in the UK we are lucky to have a whole host of history and natural geology right there in the wild. It might be an old castle, or ruins of a cottage, a beautiful stone bridge or a statue. Or you might be looking for old granny trees, waterfalls, faerie pools or a small mountain (or hill). There are heaps of things you can look for on your walk to make it more fun.
What to Pack
Packing a few bits and bobs can make a walk with kids so much easier
- Plastic bags. Whether for a seat on wet ground or a way to carry finds, this can be invaluable!
- Wipes and tissues – do I need to say more?!
- Water bottle and snacks
- New Year can be a little chilly, so layers with a hat, gloves and scarf for all can be handy. But, if you are reading this in summer then think about sunscreen and hats
- Top Tip – Leave a spare change of clothes in the car in case your kids are a muddy mess on the return from their walk!
- Extra Top Tip – Ikea bags are also very handy when returning to the car. You can have your child take off their muddy boots and stand in the bag where you can then get them changed without the mud and wet getting into your car. Even better, the clothes are then all contained in the bag until you get home and dry!
I hope you have found these ideas helpful! Getting outdoors is great for health and wellbeing and for relationships. Do feel free to email us with your top tips or share your adventures with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!