May - Engaging Children in Walking and Hiking

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A wonderful adventure for a child can begin with simply going on a walk or a hike. Children will not only have fun enjoying the outdoors but experience a wealth of exciting learning opportunities. Listed below are some great ideas that can be used alone or as a springboard to another idea that will engage children of all ages in walking or hiking.

  1. Go on a critter hunt: When you are on a walk or hike, stop a few times to turn over logs, rocks or pieces of bark to see what's hiding underneath. You might discover beetles, spiders, worms and rolly pollies. A magnifying glass is a great tool to bring along to get a closer look.
  2. Animal walks: This is a fun game of taking turns to decide how to walk until reaching the next landmark (e.g. fence, tree, house). For example: walk like a duck by squatting legs and flapping arms or hop like a rabbit with arms tucked into chest and hopping foward. Sound effects can be added but be careful of other walkers and wildlife which may like a slightly more peaceful environment 
  3. Can you find it? A player chooses an object they see on the walk and says, "First one to find a ____".  The player fills the blank with the object (e.g. green leaf).  Other players try to find the object first and the winner then chooses the next object to find.
  4. Follow me: The goal of this game is to follow a partner as close as possible, without running into them, or anyone else. Take turns who gets to be the leader.
  5. Go on a scavenger hunt: Before beginning a walk, brainstorm a list of objects you think you might find. For example: a feather, animal tracks, a flower, an acorn, a large rock, moss, a pine cone, etc. Add to the list during the walk.

Click here for more ideas and the full article!

Resources:

  1. Go Outside and Get Growing! North Carolina Extension
  2. Tag—Just Tag (You're It), James Madison University, Department of Kinesiology
  3. Games to Play While Walking, Walking Families UK
  4. 10 Games to Play on a Country Walk, Parent Dish

For more information, contact the author — Pat Jones, Extension Educator in Brown, Rock and Keya Paha counties. This publication has been peer-reviewed.