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Kids: Walking and Gathering

Let’s face it, kids are rarely excited to “go for a walk,” especially at the frequency adults like to take one. And, part of this is probably very natural. Walking is fairly mundane when you can’t see the benefits in real time.

In more natural times, walking was not done for the sake of walking, but for survival. Walking was also the “classroom” that provided children with the necessary environment to learn survival skills — identifying plants, foods, and danger.

Since I love walking outdoors and I know it is a health requirement for kids, I came up with a game of sorts, that keeps the kids out of “walk” mode and in “scavenger” mode. Items on the scavenger hunt list are “find its,” “hear its,” and “do its.”

“Find its” include: Spiders, slugs, flowers, new growth, berries, webs, other people, dogs, moss…whatever is local to your area and the season.

“Hear its” include: Airplanes, bird song, farts, leaf blowers, water moving, fog horns (yes, we have one!), and again, whatever is local to your area.

“Do its” include: Walking a log, swinging from a branch, running backwards, climbing a hill, running down a hill, pick up trash, peeing outside, POOPING outside (bonus points), a bit of barefoot walking, resting, drinking water, and whatever else you can come up with.

An example of of our game in action:

My husband has made you a grid to make this game easier, leaving blanks for you to fill in with unique items to keep the game fresh. We also realized that an urban game is also needed. We’ll do this the next time we head to the city!

Download the scavenger walking sheet.

HINT: Spending time with the same few people day after day is fairly unnatural. Kids prefer a herd and can benefit from the interaction with kids of varying ages. We always try to take “extra kids” with us whenever we go out walking, which is almost every day. This not only makes walking easier for us (the adults), but it can serve as a relief for our friends and family with little ones. COMMUNITY!

17 Responses to Kids: Walking and Gathering

  1. When I was a little kid my mother and I would have scavenger hunts on the miles of walking we did daily (she had no car until I was 5 I think). She’s going to be thrilled to see you promote something she did because “it seemed like a good idea at the time”. (Much of what she did for that reason has latter been backed by science. If only she had a degree to back up her natural instincts)

    • I don’t think that science is any more ‘valid’ than instinct. Your mother had a hunch that was based on years of experience plus a desire for a particular outcome. Everyone is a study of one — sounds like she nailed it!

  2. We will be heading out to northern Ontario (from Toronto) to camp and this will come in handy for walking with my three boys. The Bruce trail is magnificent! All of your info as of late will help keep me moving too. P.S. My 7 year old hasn’t wet his pants since I worked on his psoas TPs. Thanks!

  3. Great ideas! Whenever I ask my daughter if she wants to go for a walk, I get a groan. When I just now mentioned a scavenger hunt, she got her shoes on right away, so we are headed out the door! Great pics. What shoes are you wearing?

  4. Wonderful idea! My girls are still so little that just taking walks around the neighborhood is exciting (they’re 3 and almost 2). We kind of play this game already just because they’re kids and ask questions about everything and find everything so exciting. They’re also still in the “I want to do everything Mommy does!” stage and I take my own walk every day, so that makes it more desirable. The only downside to this “game” is that it takes an hour to take a 1 1/4 mile walk – and our walks are usually in the evening since that’s when Daddy is home, so it makes for a bit of a late bedtime.

  5. Never mind! I saw on facebook — Earth shoes a few years old. Are there minimal shoes sandals that you recommend?

  6. This sounds like so much fun! My little guy is only seven months old, but I certainly see these games in my future. This brings up another question for development though. My DS attends daycare and has started pulling up on furniture, the teachers think that once they begin pulling up it’s time to go to StrideRite and get their first pair of shoes. Are Stride Rite shoes good for development?

  7. This is great – I have just started a walking group for mums and littlies – we did ‘nature bingo’ last time, we were going to do story bags next time but I am tempted to do ‘the do it’ idea…. :)

  8. So I’ll ask…why extra points for pooping? I dont really want my five year old pooping outside. We walk everyday because we have a big dog who needs exercise. It can be a thing to complain about but we’ve engaged in similar activities. He LOVES finding different bugs. Also for letter recognition weve found letters, made up words with them, etc from license plates. We lokk for certain colors. We do an i spy game though you have to be fast when you’re moving. And yes, taking along friends is ALWAYS enjoyed so we try to ask a friend or neighbor as often as possible. Im amazed how many relatively unknown people will let their kids walk with us to the park but not come in to play.

  9. I just took 4 of my children to Guatemala for two months (when I was six months pregnant, still waiting for the baby to show up btw) and we had an amazing experience. One of my gringo friends down there said one day, “You just don’t see drunk people passed out in the street back home like you do here.” I replied, “True, but you also don’t see anyone in the street like you do here.” I know it’s different in some big cities but where I’m from people exist in buildings or cars. Rarely do you see anyone walking or riding a bike down the road that isn’t trying to “exercise”. In Guatemala people walk to work. They ride bikes to the market. They exist beyond buildings and cars. We could never walk to the market without seeing people we knew and we didn’t know that many people. We had a bike for a few weeks that we were there so instead of walking my 13 year old learned to take the 8, 5 and 2 year olds on the bike with her all at the same time in true Guatemala style!

    Love the blog. I’m learning so much!

    I have a 2 and 5 year old that will walk anywhere non-stop but I also have an 8 year old that has always been allergic to walking. She tortured the rest of us with her complaining any time we tried to walk or hike anywhere. In Guatemala she learned to love to walk because walking meant fun and if you didn’t want to walk you got left home with a babysitter and missed the fun.

    Sadly we are back home now and we live out in the country where everything is far away and we have to drive everywhere we go. As soon as this baby pops out (next week!) we are going to spend our afternoons in the mountains exploring and keeping up our walking habit.

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