Walking for Health

Walking is a great way to get around.

It's free, it's a great way to catch up with friends, it's excellent exercise and it can be fun for children too!

Here are some easy ideas to help make popping down to the shop, walking to school or going to the park with your children interesting and fun for everyone.

Safari Time

Turn your walk into a safari by looking for as many different kinds of living things as you can. Create a list of animals, insects, birds, flowers, trees or people. It could include a pukeko, sparrow, butterfly,cicada, manuka tree, tui, fantail, worm, snail, a child with blonde hair, a man wearing a hat or a person pushing a pram. Children will love pretending to be the safari guide and having turns pointing out all of the things they can see on the list. Look at that scary mouse-eating cat!

Flash Walking

Something as simple as flash cards can be a great way of encouraging a child's creativity and observational skills. Get your children to make flash cards of things they might find on their way to school by using pictures cut from magazines or newspapers or ones they've drawn themselves. (A great rainy day activity). Take the cards with you when you go walking, and get the kids to have turns choosing a card of something they all have to find, or make it s competition by dividing the cards and seeing who can find all their items first.

Go,go gadgets.

Children really enjoy gadgets and measuring things! Get your child a sports watch or pedometer to wear out walking and encourage them to track how long they've been walking and how far they've walked. They can jot down their results or sign up to an app that will record their results for them.

Walking and talking

Use your walks as an opportunity to connect with your children and talk about what is happening in their lives, what is important to them or if anything is bothering them. Make up a 'question of the day' - do fairies or ghosts exist? And give your kids a chance to ask you a question back.

One step, two step - it's a scavenger hunt!

Kids love scavenger hunts! Give each child a list of ten similar (but not identical) items to look out for while walking. Maybe a blue car, a daisy, a cyclist, a bus, a yellow mailbox even old chewing gum. Yuck! When the child spies an item they can point it out (please no touching) and cross it off their list. The child who finds all ten items first is the winner. Maybe they could pick the family movie night film or what to have for lunch at the weekend or what pizza to have next time!

Take a sketch break

For children who like to draw, a sketch pad and pencils will make a walking trip especially fun. Children can look out for something they want to draw along the way - a building , flower or tree - then stop for 5 minutes to draw it. Make it a leisurely outing, or for extra excitement make it a race and time them drawing. Keep the pictures in an album as a record of your walks.

NZ's Next Top Photographer!

If you've got a digital camera or phone, bring it along on your walk and have children look out for an artistic shot, such as moss on a tree or a spider web. Alternatively, let each child take 3 photos along the way. The photos could be turned into postcards or pasted into a walking scrapbook.