Exciting Fun and Educational Ideas for your Lockdown Walks
Due to the new lockdown in France, we have been told that yet again, we must stay at home except for an hour or two a day, in which, attestation in hand we are allowed to get some fresh air, stretch our legs, take our pets for a walk or get some exercise and all this within a short distance from home.
Getting out of the house at least once a day is essential for our family's health and wellbeing so, how can we inject a bit of excitement into our walks and local hikes so that kids are raring to get outside? And why not sneak some educational value into your walks to make learning fun too!
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1. Go to the beach/river/lake/pool/pond and have a rock skipping competition. See who can get the most skips across the water. For very young children if they can’t skip the rocks yet praise their efforts as they try. Then encourage them to find different sized rocks and pebbles and let them throw them in to see the splash they make. Talk about how larger heavier rocks make a bigger splash. Why not add some items that float such as twigs and leaves and teach the concept of "what floats and what sinks" This idea is guaranteed to be a "splashing good time".
2. On your walk or shopping trip, pop into a local supermarket or deli and let your child pick items for a delicious picnic. If you want them to choose a balanced menu talk to them before you go about the food groups and healthy eating. You could set them a task of choosing an entrée, a main, a dessert, and their favorite drinks. You will be surprised at how responsible they will be. And even if they do choose a basket of sweet treats - well it’s only a one-off! Just in case plan a backup lunch for when they feel hungry later. Then let them, or help them if they are very young, prepare it for you in your garden or your own balcony. Children can invite dolls and teddys, in the absence of playdate buddies and you could even play some music to enhance the experience
3. Take your binoculars on your walk and go bird watching. Talk to the children about how we classify birds and tell them apart from other animals: They are bipedal; they have 4 clawed toes to grip onto branches; they have a beak, wings, and feathers. Listen out for birdsong and try to imitate them. When you get home look up facts about the birds you encountered. You could even make homemade bird feeders, like this one from"The Kratt Brothers" made from pine cones, peanuts, birdseed, and some string and hang them in your garden on your balcony. Your little ones can then continue to watch and observe the birds from the comfort of home during the lockdown.
4. Search for bugs at the park and look up facts about them. If you have a bug box bring some home as pets. There are lots of resources online for learning about bugs including BBC Earth Kids, just one of many fantastic YouTube channels and Apps I mention in my article about keeping kids busy in lockdown in Enfants D'Azur Magazine's November / December 2020 issue.
5. Do a colour, alphabet, or number hunt. As you go on your walk look for anything with that colour/letter/number. This a great literacy game. Watch how your kids point and shout out for joy when they see their chosen numbers on the front doors, apartments, or shops and identify letters in street signs. If you chose an alphabet hunt, find things that start with the letter A, then B, then C, etc... and see how far you get. If you chose to search for colours why not dress up in that colour just for fun! You or your child could use your camera or phone to take pictures of the things you find. When you get home you could make a collage of your pictures and you can continue the game into the afternoon by having a ‘green’ snack of crunchy apples or cucumber crudités, or a ‘red’ meal like pasta with tomato sauce or Pizza Margarita.
6. Get your kids to help you make some of my Easy No-Cook Playdough. This is the last playdough recipe you will ever need it is the perfect consistency and, if covered, lasts for up to 2 weeks. You will find the recipe here in the July/August 2020 issue of Enfants d'Azur Magazine.
Bring the playdough with you on your walk. Then make sculptures, depending on where you go, you can make different sculptures if you go to the park, collect twigs and leaves and if at the beach try seaweed and stones. We would love to see your creations so tag us @enfantsdazur on Instagram and Facebook.
7. Paint some pebbles from the beach and on your walk, leave them for people to find. It might make someone smile. Post a picture on your Facebook and your local school or town social group ( it works best if it's a group with members that live near to you) Post a photo or tell them where you have left your rocks and challenge them to go and find them. You never know it might become a "thing" and other kids in your area might leave some rocks for you to find on your next walk.
8. Make a map of sounds. As you go on your walk, encourage your child to listen to all the noises on the street, in the parks, and at the beach. Can you hear dogs barking, birds tweeting, the wind in the trees, waves crashing, car horns beeping. What else can you hear? When you get home make a map of your journey. Mark all the sounds you heard. You can either draw them like a dog barking or if you prefer you can print out a picture from the Internet or cut one out of a magazine and glue it onto your map. This game is a great sensory play activity and talking about your journey is great for spatial awareness and learning about where you live. What a great piece of your child's art to pin on the front of the fridge.
9. By incorporating this fun game into your walk you can get some exercise in for yourself and your child. Before you go on your walk consider where are you going to go. Talk to your child about how you get there and the different things that you need to pass on the way. For example:
- When we get to our gate we’re going to do 10 jumping jacks When we get to the bus stop we’re going to run on the spot till the bus arrives
- When we get to the hill we’re going to run up it
- When we get to the stairs we’re going to skip down
- When we get to the park we’re going to balance on one leg for one minute. Set your stopwatch and challenge your child to see how long they can hold it.
You get the idea you can make it as difficult or as easy as you like.
10. Finally "Apothecary", is a fabulous game, a game from my own childhood taught to me by my grandmother and I recently wrote about in the November / December issue of Enfants d'Azur magazine. Take a little basket or a box with you, a walk is a perfect opportunity to collect all the many different leaves, buds twigs petals, and other objects and items from nature you will need to play. The objective is to make a pretend apothecary shop using those items and sell these items to siblings and other members of your family. To read more about the "Apothecary Shop" game and other old-fashioned easy to make games check out my article in this issue of Enfants D'Azur Magazine Nov Dec 2020.
I hope you have lots of fun trying out these fun ideas on your lockdown walks.
Enfants d'Azur Magazine is a bilingual Parenting and Lifestyle Magazine for the Cote d'Azur. It is also available in French.