So we’re staying in… but we’re going out! Being able to take daily exercise during lockdown by walking or cycling whilst social distancing during Covid-19 is enabling us and our children to enjoy important mental and physical health benefits.
Simply going for a walk is a pleasure in itself but you may want to add some extra fun elements for the children. Maybe you are a parent entertaining your own children, a school leader inspiring your home-based pupils or a teacher looking for playground walking activities for children of key workers still at school. Take a look at these great ideas we’ve come across.
Blog in Brief
Activity ideas: Stone Painting, Chalk the Walk, Ministry of Silly Walks, Hopscotch Trails, Walk to School, Number Hunt and Alphabet Hunt, Lockdown Landmarks Map.
Capturing Your Achievements – why encourage participation with social media, awards.
Good to Get out – Building health resilience and Covid-19 research on outdoors vs indoors.
We’ve seen a lot of outdoor artwork with children painting rainbows and creative ‘thank you NHS’ messages on stones. Children from Oakley Vale in Corby, Northants have been taking their stones with them on their daily walks or cycle rides and placing them around a tree. It’s made a fantastic display and connects the children as they can look at each other’s stones and see how the collection grows daily. Thanks to Monica, a teaching assistant at nearby Oakley Vale Primary School shared these photos with us.
Chalk the Walk
We also love these ‘Chalk the Walk’ ideas from the US whether for the back garden, playground (for those still at school) or street during or after lockdown… of course keeping in mind your local, current social distancing rules! Thanks to Jennifer at Jersey Family Fun for sharing these ideas (and letting us use this fab ‘cycle chalk image’).
Ministry of Silly Walks
Now for something British (Monty Python/John Cleese fans will get this)… A ‘silly walk’ zone with chalked instructions to walk in a silly way outside your house can create you some entertainment for when you look out from your window and see how people respond.
Hopscotch and Trails
Hopscotch is the original ‘chalk on the path’ activity and many children (and adults) have been building on this to create more movement-related fun activities such as trails designed by the children. Adults: why not video yourself doing them then tweet so the kids can see they’ve made someone smile!
Number Hunt and Alphabet Hunt
Many of us have enjoyed looking out for the rainbows displayed in windows during UK lockdown. Children love being first to spot things so extend this by making your walk into a hunt. Try a number hunt – it’s easy to see a sequence as you just walk along a street looking for the house numbers… but look for numbers in other places too. Thanks to Ealing STARS for this great number montage. Check out this and other walking activities on their twitter feed @ealingSTARS … including lots of appearances by our friend Terri Tiger.
Alternatively, try an alphabet hunt where you find something beginning with A, then B, then C etc to see how far you can get.
Lockdown Landmarks Map
Daily local walks may mean children are getting more familiar with their own neighbourhood. They will start to notice changes, eg a bush blossoming or a new chalk message on a path. Thanks to googlemaps etc it is easy to get a map of your area. This can be printed off and ‘lockdown landmarks’ drawn onto it or around the edges with arrows to show the exact locations. It can even become a kind of evolving diary to keep for the future so they can remember the positive things they enjoyed seeing.
Walk to School!
“What? But my school is closed!”. It may seem strange but if you usually go by car to school, use your daily exercise to walk the journey. Before you go, write down how long you think it will take, door to school gate. Plan your route, thinking about best crossing places for when it is busier. Then walk the route and time it. How does it compare? You can also record your steps with a pedometer or distance with a smartphone and compare different routes for distance, safety and attractiveness. Then when school starts back try it for real… every day!
If you’re due to start a new school in September try walking or cycling there – this is a great way to help you have healthy travel habits from the start.
Capturing Your Achievements
Keep your school community more connected by encouraging parents to share their pics of walking and cycling achievements and tagging your school social media accounts – you don’t have to show faces, but great artwork or a video of a pupil who has just learnt to ride a bike are good to share and may inspire other pupils to try it too.
To encourage participation suggest a local landmark families can walk to (at different times) and ask them to take and share a photo of them at the landmark.
If parents tag your school account it means at the end of lockdown you as teachers will know about pupils’ achievements whilst you’ve been away from each other. You can use this to create a montage or ‘Lockdown Active Travel Achievement Log’ for your class or school. If your school is taking part in a school travel awards scheme such as Modeshift STARS (for schools in England, outside London) this evidence can be used towards your next level of accreditation. Why not let parents know this extra benefit of sharing their fun activities?
Building Health Resilience for the Future
It seems contradictory to be going out… when we are staying in. We all need to follow local guidelines for social distancing for our immediate safety and to protect health services. However, walking, cycling and active travel has a big part to play in our short term and long term health too. It helps build resilience from future diseases and reduces the potential for deaths from road collisions and poor air quality.
By helping children to realise they CAN walk or cycle around their local neighbourhoods you are empowering them to travel in better ways once lockdown is over.
Studies suggest that most Covid-19 transmission happens indoors – in Japan a new, (pre-peer reviewed) study has found “the odds that a primary case transmitted covid-19 in a closed environment was 18.7 times greater compared to an open-air environment” and there is further discussion in this article. Although we shouldn’t be complacent and should stick to guidelines, the science is showing that getting out walking and cycling is good for us. So enjoy!
Photo credits: Monica Butler (stones), Jennifer Auer from Jersey Family Fun (chalk bike) , Nicky Batkin from Ealing Council (numbers), pexels (chalk), Modeshift logo (Modeshift). All other images Brightkidz.
Send us your Ideas
Send us your lockdown or anytime fun walking ideas and links to any you’ve posted on social media. We’d love to share them. Tag us on twitter or facebook @brightkidz or instagram @brightkidzuk[