Free Winter Activities: Playing On Walks
A walk. But it never is just a walk with kids, is it? It’s a military-style operation of manipulation, cajoling and bribery often resulting in back-breaking shoulder carries, protest sit-ins interspersed with mutterings/yellings of ‘never again’ and sheer mental exhaustion. It’s a rucksack rammed with spare clothes, snacks, waterproofs… But that’s because we’ve all been lied to. A walk should never be just a walk… but an adventure, a chance to play, some fresh air fun or better still, a game for all the family to enjoy. That’s right, a family walk for ALL of the family. Let Conker Crew help you with these free walking ideas for some handy and wholesome family activities that will transform your ‘walks’. First up, it’s the reframe. The rebrand. The upsell. And no, not just for the kids, but for you as well. A family walk does not have to be a hike, a specific route or even far afield. Consider why you’re going for a walk: Some fresh air to blow the cobwebs away or a change of scenery perhaps? It might be time to rethink the standard A to B and embrace the meander. Remember all who wander are not lost. The meander makes it an adventure for everyone and the kids feel a part of it – they are not just ‘being dragged along’ on a predetermined family walk decided upon by adults. They have some degree of control and ownership which leads nicely onto…
The Coin-Flip. Which direction? Give up your control and watch as the whole family become involved in deciding where to go. Heads or Tails? Left or right? Straight ahead or over the bridge? Granted this has the potential to end badly…stuck in a bog, trapped in a field of bulls, absolutely miles away from anywhere but obviously with some skillful parental ‘guidance’ (ahem, ahem… yes, cheating!) this can engage the whole crew while still remaining within the realms of safe, outdoor fun.
Similarly, a family walk can become far more engaging with map reading. We’re not talking OS map-reading skills here, but local kid-friendly versions of which there are loads to be found on the internet. Alternatively, map-making as you go along is another way to engage and make the family walk a fun walk…taking pictures or collecting ‘treasures’ to remember specific points of interest along the way adds extra nature-connection points too! The tech-crew might want to opt for geocaching… a map-reading, real life treasure hunting app. Be warned though, this can become addictive! You’ll need nothing more than your phone, a pen and maybe a few ‘treasures’ of your own to add to the secret stash of ‘trinkets’. This is a great way to introduce a focus to your walks with slightly older kids – and they get to be in control, too. All the Famous Five feels for the tech-generation, because who doesn’t love a treasure hunt, right?! You can find out more at www.geocaching.com
But what about the younger kids? Well, they are all about the play and the Great Outdoors is just one big playful opportunity on family walks. Nature’s playground offers up all manner of games to be had on any route: the floor is lava (climbing trees, balancing on logs, jumping on bus stop seats, clambering up a wall…), obstacle courses or ninja warrior style challenges (balancing, swinging, jumping, running, hopping) and even the old-skool classic, Hide and Seek. Embrace your inner child, engage in play and see just how much outdoor fun can be had on ‘another family walk’.
Now then, amongst all of these ‘easy options’ (the improvisation of en-route outdoor play and fresh air family fun) must also be something that is also free but does involves a little bit more advance planning. A little bit. You know us though, it can’t be hassley or hard work, that is not the Conker Crew way… so we bring you, the ‘bag of tricks’. This will differ for each family and is dependent on where your walk is and what your child is like, but it always has the same focus. Playing on walks. So, this could be a small spade or trowel for digging, exploration or mud play on the move. Perhaps a potato peeler for those ready for some basic whittling of their many stick finds, paper and crayons for some impromptu leaf/tree rubbings, a magnifying glass for a cheeky bug hunt or even a teddy bear and a cupcake case for a roleplay mud café en route. A few well-chosen play items to whip out mid-walk will bring the free play and the family fun to your outdoor time together. And last, but definitely not least, is my personal favourite. It’s the onesie walk. My kids love this because it is something that always feels a bit naughty and a bit sneaky. This involves stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing the dark while still feeling cosy and safe in their onesies or pyjamas, maybe clutching a teddy or a torch but setting off to catch something that others are missing out on: Sunrise or sunset. And this walk always has a reward at the end of it – a glorious view of nature, a sense of peace and tranquility and maybe even a flask of hot chocolate! The family walk can be so much more than ‘just a walk’ - keep it handy and wholesome, embrace the play and let everyone reap the rewards of some fresh air family fun.