Ever since, and way before, the shelter in place began, I have worked on coming up with fun walking activities for preschoolers that I could do with my son. We both enjoy learning, being outside and being active and he has “walked” with me since he was six weeks old. We started out going on family walks, in my neighborhood, with my mother or me pushing the stroller while he slept.
Our walks typically last anywhere from 15-30 minutes and average about a mile in our hilly community. Surprisingly, when my son became a toddler and actually spent more time walking instead of riding in his stroller, he has never complained about our long walks together. Well, to be fair, he never complains as long as there are fun things to do while we walk.
Of course the things we do have changed as he has gotten older. My son recently turned four, so our walking activities for preschoolers have had more to do with getting ready for school such as learning numbers, letters, shapes and retelling information or using scientific inquiry.
Before, when I went for walks with my son as a toddler, we sang, identified things by their name and paid attention to sights and sounds.
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Benefits of Walking
Walking is widely recognized as an excellent way of exercising and promoting or maintaining health. It is more accessible than running and is a great way to bond as a family through family walks. Outside of the direct health benefits, walking also helps develop social skills and promote independence. Typically, in my family we go for a walk daily unless the weather doesn’t permit.
How to Get Your Child to Walk With You?
As I mentioned, walking is something that is ingrained in my son’s life. He grew up with it being a part of what our family does. Therefore, my first recommendation on how to get your child to walk with you is to start walking together early. Additionally, I have the following suggestions:
Choose an appropriate place to walk.
Dress appropriately for the climate you live in.
Choose an ideal time that is not too hot or cold.
Carry a hand towel and water to refresh your child and you during the walk.
Fill your walk with fun things to do.
Explain the importance of walking, as it relates to health and wellness.
Make it a special time for bonding and discussion.
My son and I mainly go walking in our neighborhood or one of the parks close to our home. Our neighborhood is filled with hills and many different types of animals and sights, so it is easy to maintain my son’s interest level. However, we also like to walk at the park near our home because it has a beautiful river trail, many scenic attractions like a train track and bridge and even has a playground and bathroom facilities.
We live in Georgia, so depending on the time of year, there is a lot of change in our climate. I am always sure to check the weather before we leave and dress for optimum comfort. For my son, shorts or joggers are effective and I typically do short sleeved shirts with a layered jacket in the winter time. We have, on special occasions, dressed up as our favorite heroes or story book characters .
My son and I are heavy sweaters, so having a way to remove some of that sweat and replenish our water reserves is important. Be sure not to drink too much because then you may end up having to find a bathroom, which may not be convenient.
We see walks are opportunities to let our imaginations wander and to have fun together. Below, I will give detailed ideas of some walking activities for preschoolers. However, it is important to share with your child that even though you are having fun, you are also building endurance, helping your heart and lungs and in general being kind to your body.
Above all, walking is a special bonding time for us. For the most part, we normally go, just the two of us and some of our best conversations, laughs and memories in general have come while we were walking.
Walking Activities for Preschoolers
Now that I’ve persuaded you to grab your child and get out walking, you are probably wondering what are some good walking activities for your toddlers and preschoolers. Here are 11 of the best walking activities for toddlers and preschoolers that we have come up with during our time walking together.
Sing the alphabet or any other songs you love.
Singing is one of our all time favorite things to do while walking. Some of our favorite songs include the alphabet, Dinosaur Stomp by Mother Goose Club, You are my Sunshine, The Itsy, Bitsy Spider, and several Bob the Train songs, to name a few. We typically sing at the beginning of our walks to get our energy going and toward the end, to motivate us as we head home.
2. Have a letter search and look for things that start with that letter.
When my son was a toddler, we’d identify things by their names. For example, he would point to something and ask, “What's dat, mommy?” and I would tell him what the item was each day until he could tell me what it was.
We did this with mailboxes, pets, trees, flowers, grass, the sun, sky etc. As he got older, we moved on to having letter searches. I announced at the beginning of the walk what the letter of the day was, for example “G,” and throughout the walk we would both try to find things that started with that letter like grass, garage, garbage, gate, gum or whatever else we could find.
3. Look for features of the season.
One walking activity for preschoolers and toddlers that we’ve enjoyed recently is looking for features of the season we’re in. It allows us to turn our walk into a nature walk of sorts. Before walking, we’d discuss seasons, some features of each and how you could tell they were changing.
Then, on our actual walk, we’d look for features and conclude, by the end of the walk, what season we were in. As I mentioned, we live in Georgia so sometimes it would seem as if we had changed seasons daily, but it is a great way to start discussing ideas like climate and weather with your preschooler.
4. Play eye spy with colors and shapes.
Another of our favorite walking activities for preschoolers is to play the game eye spy with colors and shapes. One of us would give clues on something we had noticed while walking by describing the color, shape and any other features we could share and the other would try to guess what it was.
When we first started this game, we would stick to trees, cars or houses, but now we’ve moved to more difficult concepts like wind and sunshine, which my son loves.
5. Count a specific thing like mailboxes or squirrels.
Counting is another big hit I highly recommend as a walking activity with a preschooler. Preschool guidelines, which vary by state, recommend that students be able to count independently. One way we have worked on this skill is to count different items on our walks.
When your child is younger, start off with items that are not common on your trail, but then move on to things you see regularly to help your child practice counting up to higher amounts. Our neighborhood has a large population of squirrels, so that is usually our go to item as well as mailboxes.
6. Mini science lessons.
One of my favorite preschool activities we do while walking is to practice scientific inquiry or have mini science lessons. This is another walking activity for preschoolers that allows us to turn our walks into nature walks . They are mini lessons are normally spontaneous, even though you could definitely plan them ahead of time.
A recent favorite mini lesson while we walked was discussing living and non living things. We’ve also discussed what living things need to stay alive, why worms die when they’re stuck on concrete surfaces, the purpose of drains on our streets, why leaves change colors and several topics related to temperature.
7. Tell stories (superheroes, about family, narratives about things you've done).
As a language arts teacher, I love reading, writing and anything related to words and books. I love writing so much, I’ve created 25 greatest writing prompts for kids for children and parents to use at home. For younger children, you can share these prompts aloud and let them share their answers to you orally.
Our top walking activity, since arriving at the preschool age, has been storytelling. In the beginning, I would tell Kingston a story and then ask him questions, so he could retell key details, but now we have several different ways that we storytell.
Some of our favorites are using a round robin or carousel approach, where one of us gives a sentence, and then the other has to say the next sentence in the story. We also continue each other’s story or revise it. For example, I told a story about Kingston turning into a superhero, but then in his follow up story, he shared that he had lost his powers and his mommy had to become a superhero to save him.
Another story telling walking activity we enjoy is to take a favorite book or movie and change it based on our families and friends. We have also chosen to make our favorite books and movies sillier too.
8. Count your steps.
Another method that we use to practice counting, as a part of our walking activities for preschool,is to count our steps. Our walks last too long to count steps for the entire walk, so we set smaller targets. For example, we’ll count how many steps it took to get from one neighbour’s mailbox to another or from one tree to another or from one big puddle to another.
9. Estimate the steps taken in your complete walk.
From the information we discover in number 8 above, we also try to estimate how many steps in all we complete in our walk. I have a Fitbit Versa, so we also look at the actual step count and then compare how close we were in our estimate.
This is one of the more challenging walkign activities for preschoolers that we do since preschoolers typically don’t have a proper understanding of thousands. However, it’s a great activity to build ideas of numeracy.
10. Identify numbers on mailboxes.
Another fun favorite walking activity of ours is to identify the numbers on mailboxes. Identifying and writing numbers is another important skill for pre-k, so we have been working on it. Kingston is confident in identifying 1s and 0s. He is less sure of the others, but he improves daily.
11. Make up and play games.
Being completely honest, we make up new games to add to our walking activities for preschoolers each day when we go for a walk. We’ve created so many that I’ve forgotten several of them. A new walking game or idea that we are currently loving is "Run to the Shade." In this game we walk through the neighborhood, telling stories or doing several of the other activities mentioned above, but on the way back we run from one place of shade to another.
Another walking game that we have done is a balance challenge. We would find something to walk over, while balancing, and challenge the other to do it. We have balanced on rocks, on the sidewalk, on the metal covers for drains and more.
Nature Walk for Preschoolers
Having an idea of some walking activities for preschoolers that you can do together is an excellent way to ensure that walks are fun and beneficial for everyone. However, there are days, normally when we go to the river park that our walks are mostly nature walks.
On those days, we try to focus on listening to bird calls, identifying different types of animals, counting how many animals we see, talking about environmental issues caused by trash (if we see garbage), focusing on weather and climate and whatever other questions my son might have.
Before you Go
I hope you enjoyed learning about how Kingston and I have developed games while we walk and turned our walks into one of our quality opportunities to learn and bond. We engage in games and activities that make us want to walk and go on fairly long walks together daily, for that matter. If you’re looking for additional ways to engage the young children in your life, here is an excellent collection of indoor and outdoor options as well as toy and non toy options. If you need electronic learning resources, here are some of the best that I use in my own classroom.
Lastly, if your little one has a birthday coming up and you’re struggling to come up with a theme or ideas on how to execute it, feel free to borrow any ideas from our Blaze and the Monster Machines party or our Mr. Onederful and Puppy Dog Pals parties.
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