For near about two years now we've been taking lots of walks. Most days we will walk in the woods in either our stroller or our wagon. I've been wanting to walk--as in actually walk, as in the three do the walking--for some time now. But it has just never been much fun. We hadn't done it a lot, and I know that was part of the problem. But it always seemed someone wanted to be held, often several wanted to be held. And the truth is, if they aren't going to do the walking, they might as well be in a stroller so I can be getting some exercise.
I read somewhere that if you have a purpose to your hikes, they tend to go better with little ones. About a week ago we went on a hike to collect natural artifacts to use to make a collage. Each child carried a sand bucket to put their finds in. We were gone over an hour and no one asked to be carried the entire trip. I was quite excited. (Our collage from this hike is the first picture in the post. We found leaves, lichen, sitcks, pine needles, acorns, bark, walnuts, rocks, and animal bones. We used joint compound to attach them to the face of a box.)
Another time we collected leaves to use for shading. The collecting was fun. We got to talk about different shapes, but the art part was beyond them. They watched me make rubbings for a while, but they don't have the dexterity yet to do their own rubbings.
Lucia did find a way to make art with the leaves though. She placed the leaves on her paper and colored all around them.
Another day we took a walk and just looked at flowers. I told them to tell me when they saw flowers, then we'd talk about them, their colors and sizes.
I'm trying to go at their pace. I am so used to walking for exercise that I have to make a concerted effort to not hurry them along the entire walk. I have found, though, that if I do need them to make some headway, I can call out, "Hey, come look at this mushroom/yellow flower/deer track." It usually shifts their attention from whatever they've squatted down to look at to further up the road.
We are enjoying this new way to spend time out doors. I think it will be a great activity for us to work on this winter.