Take a Walk!

In the hustle and bustle of schoolwork and extracurricular activities in today’s world, the simple joys of fresh air and exercise often seem to get lost. Here are a few ways to jump-start your family on your next walk—whether it be in your neighborhood or up a mountain. Come on, let’s take a walk!

Where to Go

Taking a walk around your neighborhood or at your local park is an excellent idea, but if you want to visit a KC attraction instead, here are a few suggestions.

Ernie Miller Nature Center

Located in northwest Olathe, Ernie Miller is the perfect place for a family to take a leisurely nature walk. The grounds are large enough to escape the noise of suburbia but small enough for young children to walk a quarter-mile, spotting various animals and plants as they explore. 

Overland Park Arboretum

The arboretum is a well-known and well-loved location for Kansas Citians who enjoy long walks among lush and beautifully manicured gardens. The arboretum also is vast, and visitors easily can spend a day walking its trails. 

Powell Gardens

If you are willing to go outside the boundaries of KC a bit, head over to Kingsville, MO, where you can spend an entire day touring the many attractions at Powell Gardens. Most notable is its 12-acre Harvest Garden, through which visitors can learn about the farm-to-table process of cultivation. 

What to Do

Simply taking a walk with no plan attached is a perfect family activity. But if you are looking to add some extra fun or adventure, you can try the following ideas on your walk.

Scavenger Hunt/Nature Bingo: Bring a list or bingo card with either words or images of objects in nature. Your children can hunt for pinecones, birds, fallen leaves, nuts, etc. Download our Nature Bingo Card.

Nature Bracelets: Another fun activity is to attach a loose-fitting duct tape bracelet to your child’s wrist (sticky side out). He then can attach “nature” to his bracelet as he finds items on the ground. (This is a good time to remind your children to avoid disturbing nature—only pick up items on the ground; do not pull leaves, berries, etc., off of plants.)

Nature Bags: Recycle a small paper bag to hold nature items found on the ground, such as nuts and leaves. Your kids then can save their findings for a craft or collage, or to inspect under a microscope or with a magnifying glass at home.

Kids Lead the Way: Let your kids take turns deciding which way to go next as you approach each turn or fork in the road. (This is a great way to make a neighborhood walk more of an adventure too!)

Play Games: Games such as I Spy, 20 Questions or Name That Tune are a fun addition to any walk! 

Snacks and Hydration: Bring a backpack with water and healthy lunches or snacks. Stop on a rock or open grassy area when you need a rest.

Why It’s Important

Taking a walk means your family is getting fresh air, exercising and finding time to talk without distractions. This is a great opportunity to connect with your kids. If you want to be extra prepared, have some questions in mind before setting out, such as:

  • What are you most excited about in school? 
  • What is your favorite thing about the earth? 
  • What is your favorite thing about yourself? 
  • If you could go anywhere, where would you go? 
  • If you could meet anyone, who would it be?

You also can use your walk as a chance to talk about the importance of exercise and how the human body works. Some sample questions might be:

  • Which muscles are we working? (heart, legs, lungs)
  • How do our legs move? (By the muscle that is connected to bones and joints, with blood flowing, etc.)
  • How many steps will it take you to walk to that tree? Why do you take more steps than I do? (Because my legs are longer since I am taller.)

Now it’s time to head outside and take a walk!

Walking 101

  • An adult burns approximately 75 calories per hour by walking at a leisurely pace.
  • Walking is known to improve one’s mood, balance and coordination.
  • Often the best walks are unstructured with no definitive map or timeline. Start walking, talking and looking around. It’s fun to see where you end up!

    Olathe mom Karen Johnson has three children, ages 6, 4 and 2. She writes at The21stCenturySAHM.com.

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