Growing up in a family of five kids, my siblings and I often found entertainment in the form of outdoor activities. Visiting national parks, taking long walks through wooded trails, making pit stops on road trips to see the view from a look-out point—these were not uncommon adventures for us. I am glad that my parents were willing to do those things with us, even when it was hot or we were tired.  Here are a few ways to engage your kids in the activity.

 

1.  Entrust them with Responsibility

Whether it’s keeping track of when the next water/snack break is, carrying a backpack, or looking for just the right stick or leaf for a project, let them know that their presence is valuable and constructive.

Make hiking fun for kids

 

2. Create Parameters for Collected Items

One of the great things about being outside is there are fewer rules about picking up the things that you see.  Sticks, rocks, leaves, acorns are all fair game for little hands.  To avoid bringing home an entire ecosystem, plan ahead by creating a space like this re-purposed mint tin that will limit collected items as well as log your trip!

 

Hiking Collection Tin

 

3. Make a Game of it!

Here is just one idea for a game you can play as you go. This free, printable scavenger hunt list creates motivation to keep eyes and ears open, and does not require a great knowledge of flora and fauna.

 

Make & Take Scavenger Hunt


4. Incorporate Some Wilderness Knowledge

Similar to the last activity, this visual of wild animal clues might be more intriguing for older children, and may lead to more discussion about wilderness. Plus it involves a bit more mystery!  This is also a free, printable resource.

 

Wilderness Clue Sheet

 

5. Sing Songs, Take Pictures . . . Have Fun!

Enjoy a moment of quiet in a clearing, and then tell a story or two. There are many ways to make time on the trail fun and different from hanging out at home.  Enjoy the opportunity to unplug for a bit and get into some family bonding time!  As always, be creative and do what works best for you and your family.

Fun Hiking Ideas for Kids

 
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