February 12th, 2018
If you’ve got young children in your family then you’ll know that it’s sometimes a struggle to get them to enjoy, or even entertain, the idea of a day in the great outdoors. As our children’s world is increasingly dominated by computer games, mobile phones, tablets and laptops, it can seem harder than ever for kids to enjoy the good old fashioned simple fun of a walk outdoors.
If you’re looking for ideas to get your little ones more active and out into the fresh air along the Welsh coast this half term, then our top tips for a fun and happy day out could be just what you need!
Plan and Prepare
Do a little research before you head out and choose a walk that is suitable for the ages and ability of your family. There’s no point setting out on an eight mile hike with children who haven’t really walked before. Choose short walks that are packed with interesting things to see and do along the way, or fun places for children to play. Good ideas are walks that pass through woodland or along beaches, or even incorporate a walk that passes by some local attractions.
Get them involved
Children will be more receptive to an idea if they’ve had a part in planning and organising it, so get the kids on board before you go. Ask them what they’d like to do or see and involve them in the planning, especially if you’re looking up information online. There are some great website and apps that encourage kids to get outdoors and involved with nature, so ask the children to have a look for themselves. The National Trusts “50 Things” Project (www.50things.org.uk), Project Wild Thing (www.projectwildthing.com) and the Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives (www.naturedetectives.org.uk) are all great for inspiring a happy day outside.
Fun nature-inspired apps for kids include the Outside your Door apps, the Alphabet of Insects, Animals 100, Project Noah and Chirp! Search for them in the app store.
Pack a picnic
Little legs need lots of fuel to keep up the fun, so make sure you pack a bag with plenty of drinks and snacks to keep them going, and even a treat or two. Or you could look for walks that have a café or ice cream shop along the route.
Sounds an obvious one but if kids are too hot, too cold or uncomfortable, they won’t want to walk very far. Make sure they have comfy and sturdy shoes and clothing appropriate for the weather. Lots of layers are great because you can peel them on and off as the weather changes. Don’t forget a hat and sun cream on hot days and waterproofs in case of rain. Pack some light things in their own little bright and colourful bag so that they’ll be happy to carry it.
Fun and Games
Once you’re out, make it a fun event by including nature searches, treasure hunts, eye-spy games and races. If you’re on the beach then you could include some rock-pooling, beach combing or paddling, and if you’re in the countryside or forest, encourage games of hide and seek, nature detectives, flower spotting or den building. You could also pack a ball or frisbee for some fun at open spaces.
If your walk includes historic buildings, country houses, industrial landmarks or ruins, get children to guess what they would have been used for, when they might have been built or even play a game of “who lived here?”
Educate and Inspire
As well as boosting their fitness and giving them a shot of vitamin D from the sunlight (essential for strong bones and teeth) having fun outdoors can also fire up children’s imaginations and be educational without them even realising it. Playing hide and seek, building dens, running around outside and learning about wildlife and history are all simple games that will inspire and educate. And most of all, children will love spending precious time with their families.
Above all, make it a day for an adventure and have a fun family outing, whatever you get up to. Be flexible and let the children set the pace, you never know, the grown-ups might learn something new too!