With an active on-the-go toddler, a short stroll down the street can become a huge adventure with so many things for your little one to see, do and experience.
When each of my children was at that early walking stage, we would head off down the street with a host of activities and games to occupy us on our journey. Simply posting a letter in the nearby letterbox or going to the corner shop for milk would become an entire morning’s outing. Initially, we wouldn’t leave our street, but then slowly as they became more confident, we would venture a little further. And now those walks hold some of my fondest memories.
Make the most of this exciting stage with these simple activities that turn the ‘stroll down the street’ into an entertaining and educational morning for your eager new walker.
1. Get crafty
Both my kids loved to collect ‘treasures’ on their walks. We would take a basket or paper bag and gather all sorts of bits and pieces of ‘nature’, so we could do a spot of craft later on. We’d find stones and transform them into animals with paint and googly eyes, or we’d collect various leaves and flowers to decorate birthday cards or create a collage. Not only does this get your child out and moving, but also sets you up for a fun, creative afternoon when you get back home.
2. What is that?
We forget how much there is to see when merely walking down the street. For your toddler, it’s a whole new world, with countless things to look at, discuss and name. You can introduce your little one to the many plants, trees and flowers on your street. There might be birds to see, neighbours’ pets to pat or insects flying by. And apart from the local flora and fauna, there are probably a few cars, trucks, planes or trains whizzing by. With so much to take in, you can play endless games of ‘what is that?’ and your child will never get bored.
3. Know your numbers
With a street number displayed on most houses, this is an excellent opportunity for your child to start recognising basic numbers and to practise his counting. It’s like having a number flash card conveniently posted every few steps. I would spend an enormous amount of time with both my kids, going over each house number, saying them out loud, until eventually, they would immediately recognise the numbers themselves.
4. Letters all around us
The same could be said for letters. As you walk down the street, there are letters everywhere on street signs and above shops, the perfect opportunity for your child to start identifying them and even reading certain words. One of the first words my kids learned to read was STOP, simply from taking in street signs as we strolled down the road. And the repetition of our walking journeys allowed them to practise ‘reading’ them, over and over again.
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5. Introduction to road safety
These early walks are ideal for starting a conversation about road safety. According to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) in Victoria, parents should begin instructing their kids on road safety from a young age, teaching them how to safely cross roads, understand timing and speed, and to see a dangerous situation and act appropriately.
6. Being in the hood
Another long-term advantage of taking short walks close to home is that your child can start to familiarise herself with her street and learn to recognise not only her house but those around it. It gives you the chance to discuss the name of your street and the number of your house in a practical hands-on situation, and while they may not remember it straightaway, taking regular strolls will encourage it to sink in slowly.
7. Get moving
At the end of the day, anything that gets your child outside and exercising is worth doing. They get to practise their new-found movement, use their muscles, and while it’s not a super cardio session for mum, it’s better than staying inside. A change of scenery does everyone a world of good and when it’s filled with so many activities. It will become a highlight of your toddler’s week.