Perhaps more often than not, reading does stop us from getting outside. So what can we, as parents, do to counteract this? I’ve put together a few ideas to encourage our lovely bookworms into being more active at an early age. Read on to start your outdoor story adventures.
- Nursery Rhymes
There are lots of nursery rhymes which lend themselves to an activity. Find your nearest hill for a rendition of The Grand Old Duke of York. Ring-a-ring-of-roses is great for a small group. Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush works well in your local park, you just need a low-level shrub so you can see your children as they scamper round. Or next time you’re down by the river, sit down for a few verses of Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
- Outdoor Stories
Whilst walking with your children, tell them a story. Or if they’re old enough, have them tell the story. Little Red Riding Hood works well when taking a walk in the woods, as does Goldilocks and The Three Bears. The Three Little Piggies might work for you on a farm walk. A favourite of ours is The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Everyone can join in with taking different parts and giving different voices to the characters. Allow the children to embellish the stories as you move through your environment. As well as the classic fairy tales, turn to modern picture books for inspiration, Lum’s Mum is a great book for an outdoor story, taking you along country lanes and meadows. Another modern story ideal for this is We’re Going On A Bear Hunt. I’m sure you have many more on your shelves just waiting to be turned into walking stories.
- Tell Your Own Story
Make up your own characters and story as you walk, taking inspiration from the world around you. Get everyone involved by telling a sentence each in turn.
- Scavenger Hunt Stories
Have your children collect items from a list. At a mid-point on your walk, turn your finds into elements of a story. Have fun using your imaginations. A stick might become a snake swimming down the river who meets a crocodile … what happens next? I’d love to hear your stories. Click here to sign up to my newsletter and receive a scavenger hunt list with your first newsletter.
- Story Sticks
A story stick can be used in many ways. Bring along a long strand of wool. Grab a stick at the start of your walk, tie the wool to your stick and as you walk take turns to hold the stick. Whoever is holding the stick tells a story. The wool can be used as a means of timing the story. As you talk wrap the wool around the stick. When the wool is entirely wrapped, your story ends and the stick is passed to the next person. Or tell the story of the stick. This one really gets the imagination working. Start with Once upon a time there was … and see how each of you can bring the stick into the story. Mine started like this:
Once upon a time there was a nasty Prince. He was so mean that one day a witch turned him into a stick. For many moons the stick was picked up by walkers in the forest and carried from place to place. Some children would use the stick to beat rhythms on tree trunks. The Prince felt every hit. One day the stick was thrown into the river and was swept downstream and out to sea. The stick was eventually washed up on a distant shore … sign up to my newsletter here to read the rest of this story, you’ll receive a PDF of the full story with your first newsletter.
- Story Stones
For this one, you might want to take a bag along with you. The idea is to collect stones as you walk, then either bring them home to paint them to use as story elements, or use them in situ, which might be harder to use your imagination to turn these stones into elephants, giants or aliens – children can do this though!
I hope you enjoy your next walk. Do let me know how you and your children get on.