Friday, October 29, 2010

Stepping Out With Your Kiddo

Some days, getting the kids out of the house for a walk can seem like a chore. Kids are often craving novelty, and the daily walk around the neighborhood can sometimes be less attractive than play, but just as important. When rainy days come, or cold ones too, some children are very reluctant to leave off their fun to go outside, but if you need to go to the store or walk the dog, you've just got to help them find some fun.

Making a picture treasure hunt can be just the thing to help kids look forward to an outing. A few years ago, I nannied for a family whose children were loathe to go out for walks, so I came up with an idea-- what if there was another focus to the walk? I grabbed a piece of paper for each child and drew five simple pictures on it: a squirrel, a dog, a cat, a bicycle and a stop sign--things we'd see on most walks, if only we paid attention. I grabbed a crayon for each child and once outside, I gave them their lists and told them the game; we would look for the objects pictured and when we found them, cross them out.

Over the years, I've played this with many children. This 'treasure hunt' list is very versatile and can be adapted for each child's level of ability and knowledge, or interest. Kids learning letters can have a couple on their list, and a number or two. You can use shapes as your guide, including squares, circles, triangles, etc.  Sometimes, I'd put a block of crayon on to ask them to find a specific color. Flowers, birds, flags-- anything you might find in your neighborhood is worthy. Younger children need simple things while older kids might like to make their own lists of what they want to look for or see. Don't forget things like puddles or the sound of windchimes, and different sorts of holiday decorations can be interesting too. One year we counted how many wreathes we saw on our walks. Young children will appreciate anything you can draw, children learning literacy need both pictures and words, and older readers can help to do the writing on their lists.

A little imagination, a strip of paper and a crayon or pencil = a walk made easier.

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