10 Teachable Moments on a Walk Around the Block
Take steps that enrich a neighborhood stroll with your child.
Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Listening and Speaking
- How many steps? Have your child count his steps as he walks and record the number in a small notebook. He can compare the difference in totals when he walks, skips, or runs.
- Make a graph. Supply a pad and pen and have her tick off the different kinds of buildings she sees. Count up the apartment buildings (and how many floors), houses (single-family vs. two-family), schools, libraries, shops, etc. Have her express the information with a bar graph, a pie chart, and a list.
- See, feel, hear, taste, touch. Encourage him to tap into his five senses, one at a time. He can start by closing his eyes and concentrating just on sounds. Have him describe or write down what he experiences — and encourage him to let his imagination lead him.
- Map it out. Have her take notes on the location of homes, businesses, schools, or parks in your neighborhood. At home later, she can use graph paper, construction paper, or clay to create a neighborhood map.
- Try the genre game. It's all about setting: as you stroll, challenge him to take what he sees and come up with the first line of a story based on different genres, such as mystery, sci-fi, or journalism. As he passes a playground, for example, he might say, "No one knew why the jungle gym suddenly disappeared from Smith Park, but detective Sam Sloan was determined to find out."
- Report the local news. Making a neighborhood newspaper is a project that can be as big or small as your child imagines it. On your walks, have her collect photos, news stories, and interviews with friendly shop owners, firefighters, or neighbors.
- Play a game. "I spy with my little eye something that is red." Is it a flower, a car, or a stop sign? Playing this popular sleuthing game boosts deductive reasoning and observation skills.
- Make time for inquiry. A leisurely stroll is the perfect context for open-ended questions. Open the gates of conversation by asking something like, "What do you think that bird is saying?" or "What do you think a space alien would notice about our block?"
- Build a story. Collaborate by trading words back and forth until a simple story takes shape. Start things off with a word like "once" and see how far your word-by-word story can stretch.
- Have a walking spelling bee. See a squirrel? Ask your child to spell the word. Mix up long words and short: curb, street, lamppost, truck, store, mailbox, and flowerpot. You can trade off who finds the word and who spells — hearing the letters can be as helpful as having to think of them himself.
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