toddlers and moms on neighbourhood walk

9 Easy Ways to Get Kids Excited For a Walk

I don’t know about you, but our days are always so much better when we get outside in the morning.  One of the best ways to get out with the kids is to go for a walk around your neighbourhood.  There is just something about being outside, getting the fresh air and the change of scenery a walk provides that makes everyone relaxed and happy.  

Honestly though, a simple neighbourhood walk really is just so refreshing.  It almost feels selfish because while my little ones have fun together in the wagon or walking along examining all the things, it is more about me getting some exercise and clearing my mind at the same time!  A definite win-win for a mom! Walking is one of the few activities we do together that feels like it’s for all of us to enjoy equally. 

Too Much of a Good Thing?

toddlers walking

Where I live in Ontario, Canada we have spent most of 2021 on stay-at-home orders due to Covid-19. That means walks around the neighbourhood have been a main way of getting out for a long time.  It also means the walks and routes are getting too repetitive for my two kiddos to be very excited about going and they want to just stay home more and more lately.

But that time out is so good for all of us, and definitely for my own mental health, so I am not willing to give it up!  Instead, I have been adding some fresh fun activities to go along with our walk to keep everyone interested and eager to get out the door. 

Everything on these lists is something I have done personally and was loved by my two children making our same old loop new, fresh and fun!  

Keep Reading to Get an Awesome FREE PRINTABLE scavenger hunt too!!  It’s great for walks or even car trips like these other preschool road trip games!

Button to Download Free Printable Neighbourhood Scavenger Hunt 

Ride Along

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It’s great to get everyone exercise walking, but sometimes kids are just too little, too good at running away or you just want to be able to go at your speed without stopping to look at every rock, leaf and tree. Strap them in the stroller or wagon (I highly recommend this Step 2 Wagonwe love ours!) and give them one of these fun activities to keep everyone happy!

1. Binoculars

toddler wagon with binoculars

Your kiddos are happily entertained the whole time looking for birds, squirrels, flowers, you name it!  Play pretend being explorers looking for a secret pathway, scientists on the lookout for a rare bird.  The possibilities for pretend play are endless – basically anything that requires looking around!  Complete game changer for our neighbourhood walks because we are no longer just walking the neighbourhood – we’ve been in the jungle, Antarctica, magical imaginary islands, you name it!

Don’t have binoculars? Get these absolutely adorable Melissa and Doug Butterfly Binoculars at Amazon. I love them because unlike some they are light and easy to carry, the neck strap easily comes apart so is safe and they are inexpensive so if something happens to them it isn’t the end of the world. 

Or if you’d rather, just make your own in 5 minutes (actually, I promise)!  Tape together a couple toilet paper rolls and then use whatever the kiddos want to decorate. SO easy! My one year old just loved the green painters tape for his and has taken them on every walk for the past month or so! A perfect example of a craft activity that might not be flashy, Pinterest perfect, but makes a huge impact in terms of fun.  It is basically the perfect example of what drives all Happy Moments Mom projects: themom effort vs. kid fun balance!

2. Treasure Hunt

This one starts at the craft table.  Draw a quick map of your walk route road – don’t worry about perfection here!  Ask your kids what landmarks in your neighbourhood to draw on the map.  It’s so fun to hear what theirs are compared to yours.   I learned that a house down the street has a really cool swing set in their backyard that just had to be on our map!  

Next, draw out a dotted line route with a big X to mark the spot anywhere you choose near the end of your route for the day.  When you get to the spot, distract your kiddos “Hey, what’s that over there?”, toss a treasure on the ground and voila – the most excited happy kids around! 

What’s the treasure?  Anything that would be exciting for your children to find while walking! 

We have used nickels or pennies because it’s believable for them that it really was just there waiting to be found. Only annoying part of that is that I then have to take it away again to carry it home since the coins are a choking hazard.  The kids are so excited to go home and put them in their piggy banks though, they don’t usually mind me holding it for safe-keeping!  You could also use pretend money, just cut out some yellow circles for gold coins!

Don’t want to involve money? No problem, use stickers! What kid doesn’t love stickers?! Get a set that you keep hidden from them so they don’t recognize them and as ones they already own.  Still easy to transport and casually drop to be found!

Tips to Keep the Fun Going:

  1. Put your map in a plastic page protector first and use a dry erase marker to draw your route. Now it’s reusable!! Just erase and draw a new route to mix up the location of the treasure. 
  2. If you need to create an interest in a treasure hunt first, a great way to do that is read a book or watch a short show about it!  A great show with a treasure hunt episode is The Backyardigans: Pirate Treasure .  If you’re not familiar, it’s one of several hidden gem older tv shows  for toddlers I’ll be posting about soon, stay tuned! 

3. Scavenger Hunt

We keep it super simple and just quickly sketch a list of 5-10 things we will likely see on our walk.  I always include the word for each item too to sneak in some literacy skills! Pop the list on a clipboard with a marker tied to it and then the kids cross items off as we find them.   You might even get more exercise than normal because your kids won’t want to stop until they’ve found everything!! 

One of the great things about this one is that it’s so great no matter the age.  It is so simple to make it easier or harder depending on the needs of your children.  You could start with just a simple object or move on to requiring a specific colour/size of object or finding a certain number of something.  For example: a bird vs. a robin vs. 3 birds vs. 3 robins. 

Not sure what to look for? I’ve got you covered! Download this FREE printable scavenger hunt!

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Walking

What four year old wants to stay in the wagon for the whole walk? Not mine most of the time! If your route is safe with a sidewalk and you’re comfortable with it, get older toddlers and preschoolers out for some exercise of their own!

1. CopyCat

Children walking playing follow the leaderMaybe it’s jazz hands, giant steps, baby steps, or jumping on one foot…the possibilities are endless and so is the fun! Everyone lines up and follows the leader and by copies their movements too.

This game might not last the whole walk, but it’s great to pull out when you’re halfway home and everyone’s patience levels are low and you’re hearing “Are we there yet?”.  It instantly shifts the focus to fun – just make sure everyone gets a turn as the leader!

2. Zoo Walk

Is that a lion or maybe an elephant on the sidewalk?  Have your kids come up with animals to pretend to be as you make your way down the street.  It’ll add fun for your kiddos and I’m sure it’ll bring a smile to the people you meet too!

3. Red Light, Green Light 

traffic light

A classic for a reason!  That moment of anticipation during a red light waiting for green again is so fun to watch!  Bonus, this has been an awesome way to get my kiddos to listen and stop from going too far from me when we are out because they think it’s fun, not just me saying “no” like usual!

Walk or Ride:

These are perfect for any outing and age whether in the wagon or walking along!

1. Rainbow Walk

rainbow

As you walk, go through an I Spy of the colours of the rainbow! This works for all ages as long as they know colours, and also if they don’t because it’s a fantastic way to learn them! 

You can play I Spy for real and specify any colour, or we like to “create” rainbows by looking for the colours in order they appear on a rainbow ROY G. BIV style and count how many rainbows we “see” along our walk.

2. Number Walk

house address numberCounting: Oh the counting phase! When everything needs to be counted just because they can! Pick something and count how many you find on your walk: birds, dogs, yellow doors, blue cars, people, flowers, trees… you name it, you can count it!   

Look & Find: Look at houses and storefronts to find numbers in general, specific numbers, or the numbers in order.

To be honest, the teacher in me could go on and on about the awesome natural learning conversations these walks start!  Comparing if one number is bigger than the other, did we find more birds than trees, using fingers to keep track, bring a sheet and write a tally chart, so many possibilities for the preschool age with these ones!!

3. Letter Walk

colourful alphabetBasically the same as a number walk, but looking for letters! A great one if you walk past a lot of storefronts and signs. Again, it is so easy to adapt this based on age and ability of your children!

It can be as simple as finding letters in general to finding specific letters, or advancing to finding things that start with a certain letter to practice initial letter sounds. 

 

 

Want more fun with learning letters??

Try these super easy to make ICE CREAM LEARNING GAMES!

So there you have it, 9 super simple but effective ways to freshen up the daily routine.  No more complaining and whining while getting ready to go! Ok, that may still happen – we’re talking about little kids here! But once you are out the door it is time for the most fun walk with your kids ever!

Try one next time you go out and let me know how it goes in the comments! Have a go-to walk activity I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear it too so I can try it the next time my kids are having a “Are we home yet?!” meltdown!

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