How to Get Your Kids to Exercise: Take a Nature Walk

Parents today worry about the high rates of childhood obesity and their kids' sedentary, screen-filled lifestyles. When my sons were little, I took them on weekly nature walks so they could get exercise and experience the great outdoors. I soon discovered, however, that my little guys needed more to do than just walking or else they'd say, “This is SOOO boring! When can we go home?”

In a homeschooling post, I wrote about creating Scavenger Hunts for my sons and how they loved them. But, through the years, I also developed nature walks based on themes. Here are some of our favorites:
  • Night Walk – Get on your pajamas and slippers, grab a flashlight, and take a night walk. When my boys were preschoolers, we stayed in our backyard and looked for creatures such as salamanders, slugs, and moths. When they got a little older, we'd walk to the nearby park and look for owls and bats. We'd often take neighborhood friends with us to enjoy the adventure. When arriving home, I'd read a book (fiction or non-fiction) about nocturnal animals. Stellaluna was a favorite. The kids sipped hot chocolate and munched on cinnamon toast. Everybody would sleep soundly on those nights.
  • Rain Walk – We lived in sunny California so a rainy day was a big event. The boys and I would put on our galoshes and slickers, grab our umbrellas, and head out to look for puddles, rainbows, and worms. We lived near a river so we'd walk along the shore. The boys would throw sticks in the water and watch them rush downstream.
  • Truck Walk – When my boys were little, nothing fascinated them more than garbage trucks, dump trucks, steamrollers, and cranes. We'd walk to wherever there was a construction site and watch the action. We'd talk about the different vehicles and what their jobs were. Then we'd go home and read from our large collection of truck books.
  • Bug Walk – We'd grab our magnifying lenses, bug boxes, and nets and head out for a bug walk. We'd search for butterflies, ladybugs, and ants. We talk about their habitats, what they ate, and how they moved. Then we'd go home and read some books about bugs. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle was much requested. 
Stellaluna is a beautiful book that's loved by both adults and kids. It tells the story of a bat who's raised by a family of birds. While a fictional tale, it contains a lot of good information about bats -- what they eat, how they sleep, and how they fly. In the end, Stellaluna learns that even though we're different we're still very much the same.

The Grouchy Ladybug is a book we can relate to because we all feel grouchy at times. Children are entertained by this selfish, ill-mannered ladybug. They learn how important it is to share, speak kindly, and act friendly.

No comments:

Post a Comment