It may sound simple, but just going for a walk with your toddler is a great way to get outdoors and open up whole new worlds for him or her. Here are a few things you can do to mix things up on a walk around your yard, block, or neighborhood:Whether it's a long, hot day with no planned activities, or a busy day with little time for play, when in doubt- we go for a walk. Afterwards, we're always glad we did.
Your walk really doesn't need to be anything fancy, but if you're looking for ways to liven things up: here are a few:
• Have a Scavenger Hunt: You can use the free template/checklist provided in the link above, or make up your own specific to your neighborhood and the things you see. Your toddler will love finding the items and checking them off with a crayon. For older toddlers, you can try bringing a magnifying glass or binoculars to add a more investigative flare to the walk.
• Collect Items For a Nature Table. Pine cones, dandelions, small rocks, or twigs are great for this. You can let your toddler carry a special burlap sack to put them in to make this treasure hunt more special.
• Bring a Camera! Find some unique things to take pictures of and when you get home you can print them out, make them into coloring pages, or just look through them together. My daughter and I discovered this heart shape (above) in one of the bushes near our condo and took a photo, and now she goes to find the heart every time we're outside.
• Bring Bubbles! C'mon, bubbles always make things more fun.
• Stop and Smell the Flowers! Depending on your own surroundings, take advantage of all of the five senses around you. We smell all of the different colored flowers in our apartment complex, stamp our feet on different kinds of surfaces (wood chips, pebbles, cement) and listen for the sound of the train going by.
So next time you're having a "blah" day and you're tempted to stay inside and "relax," get out there with your little one and explore. You don't need a fancy class to pass the time or entertain your toddler. It's free and you'll find- quite therapeutic to see the world through your toddler's eyes.
(Image: Julia Cho)