How to make your family walks more educational and enjoyable
We've all been getting out on a lot more walks this year. So, why not try to make your outdoor adventures as entertaining and educational as possible for your little ones? Here, Rachel Clinkard from the shoe retailer Charles Clinkard shares her top tips for doing this.
Due to the coronavirus putting a stop to a lot of other activities this year, most of us will have gone for a lot more walks than usual. And, if you have kids, it's likely this will have become a family affair. But, after a while, the local walks you're used to going on might have become slightly repetitive.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can ensure your outdoor adventures continue to be entertaining and educational for your little ones. Here, I'm going to share my top tips for turning your regular family walks into a learning experience for your kids.
Create a scavenger hunt
Next time you're planning a walk with your family, why not set up a scavenger hunt that will get them excited and also teach them a thing or two?
The easiest way to do this is to create a list of things you would like your children to find on your walk. You could mention certain types of plants, birds, trees, and anything else you tend to see out on your adventures. Whoever ticks these off the quickest (and can show you where they found the items on your list) can then be awarded a prize for their efforts. Not sure what to include on the list? Why not try the RSPB Nature Clipboard for some amazing and imaginative ideas.
If you would like to set up more of a treasure hunt, you could go to a quiet park that's local to you and hide some little treats in certain places. You can then put together some clues that will lead your kids to the treasure you've hidden for them. This will get their brains working and, because there'll be several prizes available, everyone should be a winner.
Teach them about the local wildlife
If you see a lot of wildlife on your family walks, why not try to teach your kids about the different species you spot? You might even learn with them.
The National Trust has a great guide to spotting wildlife while you're out and about, which will help to ensure you get the most out of your walks. It stresses the importance of being quiet to avoid disturbing local animals, recommends taking binoculars with you (and kids’ binoculars!) so you can spot creatures from afar, and encourages you to learn about the most common British wildlife before you set off.
You could also use your smartphone to help you learn more about the animals and plants in the local area. There are apps, such as iNaturalist, that can help you to identify different species. You'll even be able to share your findings with a community of nature lovers and scientists so they can learn more about your area, too. If a traditional book is more your type, try these amazing wildlife books that cater for kids of all ages.
Plan some nature-inspired crafts
If you and your kids like to get creative, why not plan some nature-inspired craft projects?
While you're out and about, you could all pick up some pretty stones that you can take home and paint insects or animals on. If it's the right time of year, you could pick flowers to make floral headpieces, or you could collect some foliage to make a wreath with.
You could even create some beautiful nature rubbings using dry leaves that you find on your walks. This will teach your kids a lot about the different shapes that exist, and which of those belong to certain trees. Simply place your leaves under a piece of paper and colour over them with pencils. The shape and texture of them will soon be revealed. Our Instant Flower Press will immortalise those beautiful leaves forever, too!
Make sure your kids are warm and comfortable
If you want your kids to enjoy coming on walks with you and learning about the local wildlife, you need to ensure they're kept warm and comfortable. As a result, you'll want to kit them out with weather-appropriate clothing and footwear.
With the British weather being so temperamental, some boots or wellies will work very well for the autumn and winter months. Layers and a warm coat that has a waterproof hood will complete their walking attire. In the summer months, some light trainers or even sturdy sandals would be ideal. Shorts and a T-shirt (with a light jacket in case the weather turns) should help to keep them happy, too.
Make sure you also have your own walking kit, so you get just as much enjoyment out of your family walks as your kids do. It's all about being prepared!
If you're running out of ideas for ways to make your family walks more exciting, turning them into an educational experience for your kids can help to keep things interesting. Take these tips on board and your whole family will soon know a lot more about the local wildlife and their habitats.
- Sarah Edgeworth