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Take a Hike! It's Good for You

September 30, 2011
By Donna Erickson
Enjoy the changing of seasons from summer to fall by hiking and walking after school, after work and on Saturday mornings. And do it as a family. When you get moving together, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll make special memories as you discover the fascinating world that is in constant motion right out your front door. Lace up your most comfortable shoes and put an extra kick in your step with these ideas: HIKE for ABC’s Before your first outing, find a medium-size spiral notebook your family can use as a nature journal. Let your kids decorate the cover and mark one letter of the alphabet at the top of every left-hand page. The space leaves two pages for your family to enter sights, sounds and observations you encounter on your walk that start with a specific letter. You’ll soon discover that the ABC’s exist just about everywhere. For example, you might spot a round “O” shaped bird nest tucked in a “Y” shaped tree branch. A cattail in a swamp looks like a dotted “I” and a root protruding through your path might look like a gnarly “D.” For a hard-to-find letter, search for it on license plates, ask permission and then help your child make a rubbing, using a piece of paper and a dark crayon. When you get back home, glue or tape flat finds and sketches to the pages, and compose a poem or a little story about what you saw. PARK AND WALK A friend once gave me this advice: “When going on an errand, take a child!” So this fall, include your child often when you do Saturday errands to the hardware store, dry cleaners, farmers’ market and wherever else your to-do list takes you. These mini “family errand” field trips provide natural opportunities for learning, communicating and sharing about how things work in a community. If these destinations are near your home, walk there together. If they are far from home, park in a spot farther away from where you are headed. You’ll get your extra walking in, avoid congestion and enjoy the benefit of driving out of the lot easily when you leave.

— Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit www.donnasday.com and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”

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