Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Week of Walks!

I apologize for my break in blogging.  Blogger has been giving me grief and it appears that I'm going to have to figure something out since I'm close to maxing out my picture storage space...  But it is working tonight, so on to the Daily Outdoor Challenge!

Since evening heat isn't too intense yet, we've taken to an after-dinner walk. Greta's in bed by 6pm and my amazing husband does the dinner dishes each night (How blessed am I???), so the boys and I have taken this time to depart for an evening stroll! Because we get bored easily, we came up with a couple of variations to add some fresh spark to these adventures!

So here you go.

1. Color Walk

This was the most popular of our walks this week!  We simply took our colored pencils and a tiny notebook and marked a square for each main color.  As we walked, we hunted for different colors and kept a tally of what we found!  The only rule I had was that we couldn't count the bark of every tree for our brown category.  Although I did allow them to include twigs from a bush and bark from a tree as two distinct sightings!

This Red Bird of Paradise was one of our favorite sightings since we could mark off both the red and orange category in one fell swoop.

2. Listening Walk
We love doing these.  The book, The Listening Walk, inspired us to throw this into the mix.  {I mentioned this book last year when doing my series on Nature Walks and books that inspire them!}

Simply map out your walk and then keep as quiet as you can so you can see how many different sounds you can discern.  Keegan even bent down to the ground to see if he could determine if ants made noise.  I'm sure they do, but we were unable to detect it!  For these walks, any kind of sound counts - birds, lizards sliding through the bushes, an airplane going by, a siren in the distance...

3. Phonemic Walk

We play around a lot with letter sounds.  A favorite game in the car is to make our way through the alphabet trying to come up with as many words as possible to go with the currently assigned letter/phonemic sound.  Phonemic awareness is an important precurser to being able to read and the ability to break a word down into its phonemic units is an important skill in needing to be able to spell well.

We decided to try this out on our walk.  At the zoo, each boy was assigned a specific sound and kept a tally of what each found with that sound.  At home, we filled a notbook page with the alphabet and wrote down what we found on our walk that fit with each sound.  The goal is to fill up every space!

4. Animal Count Walk
These kinds of walks are a bit more rewarding if you head to a nature preserve, but we were surprised at how many different kinds of birds we found in addition to lizards, ants, cockroaches (ugh) and even a cottontail rabbit!  Not bad for our suburban desert neighborhood!

I'm not sure where they are nesting, but two roadrunners have taken up residence near our home.  We love catching glimpses of them running around our front yard!

5. Misty Walk

With the temperatures continuing to climb, we enjoyed filling our squirt bottles with ice water and heading out.  The boys had fun walking into a cool mist as they pumped away.  And naturally, it evolved into a squirt battle!

6. Race Walk
I don't know if anyone deals with this, but my boys like to RUN!  I ran into problems last year though when they would get carried away and run too far in front of me.  I didn't want to have to yell to get them to stop, but being hugely pregnant and trying to stay OFF bed rest didn't make it easy to race and catch up.  We instituted 'race walks' where I set a goal, i.e. two lamp posts, the stop sign, the end of the street, etc, where they can race to before stopping for me to catch up!  They love these race walks and it is an incredible way to burn their seemingly endless energy!  It also has been great at teaching them to pay attention to my verbal instructions which my four year old has a particularly difficult time doing. 

Since Greta has been going to bed early, I've had fun racing with them.

7. God-Talk Walk
These are my favorite of all.  Typically they work best when I only have one child with me, but we've also had a few God-Talk Walks that work out well when they are all with me.  We take the time to thank God as we walk for things we are enjoying in His creation.  I love slowing down and drawing our attention to the Creator of this beautiful world we live in.  Another way to have a 'God-Talk Walk' is to model using this time to just converse with God.  God and I have our very best conversations when I'm walking, hiking or jogging.  There is something about the fresh air and a busy body which helps my heart and mind slow down and connect with the Lord.  I've starting telling the boys about what I do on my walks and then will pray out loud as I walk with one of them.  My favorite part is when I share with them the importance of listening and then we talk about what God is impressing on our hearts.  Oh these are precious memories that I know I'll treasure forever.  My prayer is that they will see how natural and essential spending time with the Lord in prayer can be.

Well, that wraps up this week's Daily Outdoor Challenge.  How have you been enjoying time outdoors with your children this week?

The Daily Outdoor Challenge


  1. What a fun list! It's always nice to add a little variety to daily walks with the family! Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Love it. We've done a color walk before - my toddler took his camera and would take pictures of things that were different colors, and we LOVE looking for numbers and letters on our walks.

  3. Kids + camera's are always a winning combination! :)

  4. Oh, so many great ideas! Thanks for sharing, Heather. These are some great ideas for heading into the summer. I will have to think of some creative bike ride activities as that is what we tend to do!

  5. What a wonderful post and fantastic ideas for different ways to enjoy summer walks. Thank you so much for sharing with the All Year Round Summer Carnival. :) I've featured your post here:

  6. Thanks for the great walk ideas (and all your ideas and testimony sharing) - our kids love walks. Just an FYI: the plant you have pictured is actually a red bird of paradise - indian paintbrush is a little different. (I used to work at a plant nursery here in the valley, that's the only reason I know.) Thanks again!

  7. Ammanda, thank you so much for bringing that to my attention. I just googled the two and sure enough... I've been calling that the wrong name all these years. It makes me wonder what other plants I call by the wrong name. lol.

  8. Thank you for these wonderful walking ideas. We do walk, but never thought of bringing paper with. We collect and bring back, but it would be nice to catch our findings right away. Whereas, trying to remember it all, LOL

  9. I hear you Jennifer. We love having a little pad of paper. I'm notoriously forgetful, so I've found having a pad with me helps too. That must have been what inspired the boys to want to take a pad out on our walks!