Winter walks with the kids often appear on lists of things to do when the days are short and the weather’s cold. They’re a great way of ensuring exercise for all the family and getting them out into the fresh air when the temptation might be to stay cooped up indoors all winter.
However, many parents can feel at a loss about what to do once they’re actually outside and walking with the kids. The physical act of walking won’t keep them interested for long, so it’s wise to have an arsenal of ideas ready to make those winter walks both fun and fascinating.
These are some of our favourites:
Undertake a Scavenger Hunt
Kids love collecting things, almost as much as they like picking up things they shouldn’t. So, why not use those two habits to your advantage and have a scavenger hunt on your walk? This is game better employed when you’re in a natural environment – you don’t want them proudly picking up a piece of rubbish to take home with them.
Winter is an ideal time to try a scavenger hunt because there’s so much on display that otherwise wouldn’t be. Leaves have fallen off trees, providing both something to pick up and revealing the hidden worlds of the trees themselves. Take a bag with you and collect twigs, feathers, stones and leaves to take home with you. For the ultimate in winter walk scavenging, use those items later to attempt something crafty like a picture or photo project – two activities in one!
Encourage Outdoor Play
If you're just going for a quick walk, you might not want to spend time preparing things so factoring in some outside play can be a great way of having fun on a walk for children. This can as simple sitting down on a park bench and letting your children play with their favourite boys and girls toys or playing outdoor games such as catch, tig or going to the park. A great idea is to do this halfway through the walk, it'll help keep your children happy and excited for the way home!
Try Bark Rubbings
Even for kids (and adults) who don’t think they have much artistic talent, bark rubbings are easy and effective ways to create art while outside. Make sure it’s a dry day and take thin sheets of paper and either a large crayon or a piece of coloured chalk with you from your craft supplies. All the mini artist has to do is press the sheet of paper against the bark of their chosen tree and gently rub side of the crayon or piece of chalk on to the paper until the bark pattern begins to show.
This is a cheap and simple way to keep kids occupied on walks, plus it can turn into a more complex activity if your kids are also interested in keeping track of what trees they rubbed on what day and why that tree looks different to another. It’s a great way to kick-start or reignite a love for the natural world, with the bonus of keeping them outside in the fresh air for a few hours.
Spot Some Wildlife
You might think that all the interesting (not to mention sensible) animals hibernate for the winter, but there’s still plenty of creatures out there for your little ones to pay attention to. If you live near a lake or other body of water, winter is a prime time to spot ducks, geese and swans, along with migratory geese and rarer species. Take some binoculars and a bird book or even just have your phone handy to look up different species.
Another great way of spotting wildlife is to follow their trails. Muddy ground and snow are prime locations for animal prints, and the kids will have fun following them until they disappear. You can guess what prints belong to which animals and birds, along with working out where they might have gone and why. If your children are that way inclined, they might like to start keeping track of these things in a wildlife diary.
Take Some Disposable Cameras Outside
Although we’re more used to taking pictures on our smartphones these days, there is still a place for the humble disposable camera, and that place is outside on your winter walk with the kids. They’re budget-friendly ways of allowing children the autonomy of choosing what they want to photograph and why. While the idea of a set number of pictures might be daunting to adults, it can make kids think carefully about which elements of their walk are most worthy of remembering.
Again, this activity has another part – once the pictures are developed, the kids can put them in a scrapbook and make notes about each one, along with why they decided to take that particular picture and why they like it. As well as providing a great winter activity, then, taking pictures on your walk also helps develop their analytical skills – what could be better?
Give Geocaching a Go
If you’ve never heard of geocaching, you’re not the only one. However, it might be one of your secret weapons for getting the kids outside at all times of year and all it takes is a GPS device, something to write with and something to swap (optional but fun).
Essentially, a cache is a piece of “treasure” that is hidden, and the coordinates are published on a geocaching website. The challenge is to track down the treasure using either a specialist GPS device or a smartphone, make a note in the log book and then you can swap the trinket that’s in there for something else of equal value – if you want to.
A fundamental element of geocaching is that it’s a secret activity. Caches are hidden treasure, after all, and this secrecy adds to the fun of the game. When you’re looking for caches, the idea is not to make it too obvious, and that also means that some caches are a real challenge to find. If you’re concerned that your kids will be bored by it, test them out on one of the starter caches which are easy to find and relatively easy to spot. If they like that, you can try them out on some of the more complicated ones. It might be a one-off winter walk activity, or it might evolve in a lifelong hobby. Either way, it’s a fun way to while away a winter morning!
In our online toy sale there's lots of things you could take on a walk, whether you're looking to head out on a bubble blowing adventure, complete crafts outside, head to the park or do some winter drawings, there's a little something for everyone at PoundToy.
What do you like doing on a winter walk and where will you be heading? Let us know in the comments section below...