Whether the neighborhood is new to you or not, it is less known to the toddlers. Go for a walk. Don’t have an agenda or any place to be. Just walk and see what interests your toddlers. “The first time I did this with our fifteen-month-olds, they were interested in the colored covers for the gas pipes on the sidewalk, so we found more and talked about colors,” shares Erin Buhr, M.Ed., author of Little Walks, Big Adventures: 50+ Ideas for Exploring with Toddlers. “On another walk, they were fascinated by acorns and pinecones, so we collected a bunch and brought them home."
As you prepare to go on your walk, talk with the children about where you are going. Mention things you might see along the way.
Bring along wipes, bags for collecting items that interest the children, paper and pencil to write down the children’s questions and observations, and a camera to record your adventure.
If you surrounding area is unsafe for walking, consider pushing a large stroller to a location better suited for toddler explorations and then letting little ones jump out to walk and explore.
For children who have difficulty walking, include them by bringing a paraprofessional or teacher’s aide to push their wheelchairs or pull them in a wagon as other children walk.
When you head out the door, comment on the weather, sounds you hear, and anything else that captures your or the children’s attention.
As you walk, pay close attention to what the children are looking at or listening to. Come alongside them and explore with them.
Pay attention to time and distance. Don’t wander too far and then have to struggle home with tired, crabby children.
Make a Book about Your Walk
Making a book of your trip anywhere is an easy and fun way to continue talking about your adventures long after they are through. This activity would work for every adventure included in Little Walks, Big Adventures: 50+ Ideas for Exploring with Toddlers.
- Glue Stick
- 3-hole punch and rings or yarn and ribbon
- Index cards of card stock
- Clear contact paper (optional)
- Scissors (adult use)
What to Do
- Take photos of your walk—especially the parts that interest your toddlers.
- Print the photos
- Make a book by gluing the photos t index cards or card stock
- Label each page using a marker
- For durability, cover each page with clear contact paper
- Use a hole punch and rings or yarn or ribbon to bind the pages into a book.
- Look through this book as often as you like to remind your toddlers about the adventure. This repetition will help further their vocabulary learning when you discuss what you saw together in the neighborhood.
Little Walks, Big Adventures offers 50+ great ideas for taking toddlers on explorations in your local community. While you walk, young children will have rich opportunities for learning new vocabulary and developing cognitive, language, math, and motor skills—not to mention the excellent exercise and fresh air theyʼll be getting. The book is divided into four main adventure topics following common toddler interests: Home and Community, Our World, Vehicles and Animals. Within each theme there are thirteen adventures, each with corresponding activities. The adventures are intended for toddlers roughly aged fifteen to thirty-six months of age an all developmental abilities. Throughout the book there are tips to make these adventures and ideas accessible for the different abilities and special needs of children in this age group.