Whilst we're all doing our part to keep a safe distance yet keep life as healthy, and normal, as possible for our families, you may find yourself going out and about more often for simple walks in nature. However, the moment I mention taking a walk I hear “Moooom do we have to…? Walks are soooo boring". Cue a lot of cajoling to get the kids out of the door!
Not all kids love to go out for the simple pleasure of a walk. In the tropical heat it can just seem like all work and no fun. So how can you make your walks more fun for everyone? Try turning your walk into a game! Do you remember turning a car journey into endless games of eye spy? No its not like that! Being outdoors is much more fun, it's active and there's fresh air and variety for a start. Read on for ideas on making nature walks more fun.
1. Challenge your children to complete a Scavenger Hunt
When my two boys were young, adding challenges and activities like a scavenger hunt to our outdoor activities was the best way to keep them engaged. The first time I said “Get ready boys, we’re going on a hunt!” They were already excited, they always loved searching for things, collecting things and using them for arts and crafts kept them busy for happy hours afterwards.
The great thing with a scavenger hunt is that it requires very little preparation if you want to do it spontaneously, but you can prepare in advance and have it as a back-up should enthusiasm for your walk start to wane. For younger kids It's a good idea to take a scavenger hunt list with you, printed out and ready to go. Download ours here.
For older children you could brainstorm and make a list together of things to search for. You could ask questions like: “What do we usually see on our walks? Can we try and spot five different kinds of birds?”. Encourage your child to contribute. If they do, they’ll get a feeling of success and confidence finding items on the list which they thought up.
Making lists (from the age of five) helps children with literacy and organisational skills. Turning the list into a checklist to complete is fun and allows your child to keep track of their progress. Rather than challenging children to simply find a leaf, or a stone, challenge them to find something that meets certain more specific criteria to increase the challenge level - this can be altered to be more specific depending on the age of the children:
A leaf shaped like a heart
A stick taller than you are
A flower with five petals
A leaf larger than your head
An insect larger than your fingernail
The colours of the rainbow
If you have more than one child you may want to turn it into a competition. Challenge them to find as many things as they can in 10 minutes, or before you get to the playground, or back to the car! Putting a boundary around the game will keep it interesting.
2. Make nature crafts with your hunted items
If you're on private property, like in a garden, your condo, or at Wildlings, you could ask the owner / staff / gardener if you can take the items home to for some nature arts and crafts. We recommend laying out some fabric or cardboard as a backdrop and seeing if your child is interested in arranging the items into a picture. Add tape, paint or glue to make it more interesting for them. If you can keep the activity natural, then the items can be returned to nature at a later date.
You can easily draw a quick template on some plain paper for inspiration to create some funny nature faces, or take some chalk out with you and do this on-the-go! IKEA sell jumbo pavement chalk you can take out and about with you.
There are fallen flowers everywhere in the lovely Hot Park. Here we collected some in the nature play garden, arranged them into a picture frame, took a photo, then re-scattered the flowers:
Let your children lead in coming up with ideas for what they can do with the items you found on your walk. For some added messiness have you noticed that most of the soil in Singapore has a high clay content? Find some clay soil, mix it up with a little water and you get instant mud paint! You can add charcoal from your last BBQ to make black mud paint too.
3. Nature Bingo
Play with friends or as a family, use ours or make up your own. Simply select a few items you are likely to spot on your nature walk and make finding them into a game everyone can play!
If at the end of your walk you haven't found them all, the person who has found the most is the winner. If you have some binoculars or magnifying glasses take them with you to ramp up the fun factor!
4. Take the learning further
To get the kids in the mood for a walk (or to relax afterwards), check out our selection of story books about walks in nature – these are some beautiful examples all available from amazon.sg:
I Went Walking by Sue Williams
Walk On by Marla Frazee
Oh the Places you’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
The Listening Walk by Aliki
Have fun. get outdoors, stay active and stay healthy everyone!
Julie grew up in the US, in New England on the Atlantic coast. Some of her happiest memories are all outdoors: climbing trees and building forts, camping, jumping into leaf piles in fall, sledding and skiing, fishing in the Atlantic, hunting for salamanders and frogs, gardening, etc!
Grateful to having grownup this way, she has tried to raise her two boys in a similar manner while living much more urban. She believes that exposing kids to outdoor activities imprints on them forever, imparting a sense of responsibility to protect, “get to know” and benefit from Nature.
Julie enjoys reading, gardening, skiing, playing tennis, cooking, and is a certified yoga teacher. She believes we stay young if we stay curious and breath deeply!