Originally posted May 2019.
May 15 is national Kids to Parks™ Day. Kids to Parks Day encourages children and families to get out and explore their local parks, including county, state and national parks.
Two years ago, I hosted a Kids to Park hike. Having never hosted a “hike” in a park, I didn’t really know what to expect. How would I entertain the little hikers? How would we stay together given the range of activities the park had to offer? I had my energetic 3-year-old son and my stroller-bound 6-month-old, so parks could be a challenge to begin with. This hike, however, brought cold weather, a bit of rain and no other hikers.
At first I was admittedly disappointed that I planned this hike and arranged my day around it when nobody else showed up. The benefit, however, was that I realized that a park hike could be a fun, social experience despite my original anxieties.
During this hike, my son ran along the trail collecting sticks while I pushed his sleeping sister in her stroller. I can still picture him with his socks pulled up over his pants and a blue and white hooded sweatshirt. After exploring the small trail, he played on the swings, climbed a large spider web, looked for dinosaur bone replicas and ran around in plenty of green space. We were able to see dogs, a creek, birds, cloudy skies, worms, squirrels and other kids enjoying the park.
I went on to host other hikes at parks. Exploring parks, whether at the local, state or national level, can introduce kids to wildlife, dramatic play and nature in positive ways.
FUN PARK ACTIVITIES
Looking for activities to do at the park? Check out these suggestions below or print our list of 30 things to find at the park and add some variety to your hike!
- Sinking vs floating
- Nature scavenger hunt
- Animal watch
- Animal compare and contrast
- Shell or rock collecting – can expand into bigger vs smaller or more or less and counting
- Leaf shading
- Measure and meander – take a ruler or paint stick and measure things as you walk
- Texture walk
- Build a fairy house
- Stone painting
- Climb a tree
- Follow the leader
- Scavenger hunts
For free park resources that can be incorporated into a Kids to Park hike or even in your back yard, visit the National Park Trust and check out the featured resources at the bottom!
INSPIRED? GREAT! NOW GET OUT AND ENJOY KIDS TO PARKS DAY!
The best part about park hikes is that they don’t need to be formal. Kids can be imaginative and have fun on their own, with their families or with friends. Make a point to get outside and check out a park on May 15; or better yet, make it a habit your family can enjoy year-round!
Want to join a hike to celebrate Kids to Parks Day? You can check out the Family Trail Guide to find a new trail with the family. If you can’t hit the parks on May 15, it’s okay – Kids to Parks Day hikes can happen all month long!
Don’t forget to join in on the fun on social media with the hashtags: