Ambulatory activities are simply those you can do on the move. Most children are quite happy to walk along and find this is more than enough. They will chat to their friends and comment on what’s happening around them and in their lives However, if you have time on your hands and don’t need the group to walk at a brisk pace then some of these can be fun to introduce to children.
As general rule of thumb, expect walking with a group of children aged 3-5 years old at least twice as long as an adult walking on their own. So a 5-minute walk becomes more than 10 minutes.
With younger children, especially those who have just learned to walk, it can take a long time just to get to the end of a street. The children may be interested in everything: drains, kerbs, grass, stones on the ground. This may well be the focus of your walk rather than a particular destination.
Children take time to build up the stamina to walk a long way at a brisk pace. But do not underestimate their capabilities. Each group is different and experimenting is part of the process. Yesterday I met a lovely nursery teacher in Shetland who had recently climbed a local hill with her nursery class. The children were so pleased that half of them insisted on climbing it again with their parents.
The suggestions below are a small selection from an Early Years Literacy Outdoors course that I’m delivering next week.
- Try to avoid stepping on the cracks in the pavement. Otherwise a bear might come out!
- Have a colour walk. See how many different green objects you can see. Talk about the different shades and tones of colours and introduce vocabulary such as light, dark, mid, bottle, pale, etc.
- Go on a penny walk. At each junction you come to, flip a coin. Heads you turn right, tails you turn left. The fun is seeing where you end up.
- Pick an object to count and see how many you collect on your journey. Possibilities include:
- Fence posts
- Squares or other shapes
- A variation on this game is for a child to silently choose an object to count. Whenever this object is passed the child counts out aloud. The others in the group have to guess what he is counting. With young children start with simple objects such as trees. Then move onto more specific categories such as wooden gates or black cars.
- Smiles. Every child has to smile the biggest widest nicest smile every time someone passes by.
- The quiet game. Who can be the quietest the longest? Time the group, if they are very excitable.
- Safety Spies. The children look out for unsafe behaviour by drivers or pedestrians. It’s important to have a chat about each behaviour identified to clarify the nature of the danger and how to behave appropriately.
- Questions. Children take it in turns to ask a question to another child. About anything. This can create some interesting discussions.