Any parent who loves to hike knows how much fun it is to show your little ones the great outdoors. Any parent ALSO knows that it is never a bad time for a good game! Put two and two together, and you get these five fun hiking games that you can play with your kids!
The Alphabet Game
The Alphabet Game is one that I used to play all the time growing up. It was definitely one of my favorites. This one is so simple, but so fun! All you do is pick a category, in this case, “things on the hiking trail.” You then have to take turns with each person in your hiking group naming things that start with each letter of the alphabet! You start with A, then go to B, then C, until you get to Z. Now, some letters are harder than others, especially for kids. It’s totally fine to skip a few and make the game your own depending on what is most enjoyable.
Tip: I find that this game is also a great opportunity to teach your kids about new things. If you pass a kind of plant or animal that your child doesn’t know (which also happens to start with the letter you are on), tell them about it! They can use their new-found term as their word for that letter.
Who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt? I remember my Mom would have me play this game in the grocery store a lot (she would give me a small list of things to find and bring back as quickly as I could). However, playing this game on a trail is way more fun for everyone! You will have to tweak this game a little though, just to be sure that nothing in the environment is being damaged. Instead of asking your child to find and BRING you a purple flower, ask them to find and SHOW you a purple flower. You can spice this game up even more by creating a scavenger hunt check list before your hike! Below, I have inserted my own example of what one might look like:
- Find and show me: a bird in a tree
- Find and show me: a rock with moss on it
- Find and show me: a maple leaf
- Find and show me: a purple flower
- Find and show me: a squirrel
- Find and show me: a fern
- Find and show me: a very tall tree
- Find and show me: a rhododendron bush
- Find and show me: a cool bug
- Find and show me: a pine tree
You’ll notice in my example I included a mix of easy and difficult things to find. Again, if you make a list it will be whatever you decide is appropriate/fun for your child. If you do include more difficult things to find that they might not know, it is yet again another opportunity for education!
Finish My Story
This is one that never fails to make everyone playing laugh. “Finish my story,” as I called it growing up, is like fill in the blanks. One person starts a story with a single sentence. The next person has to then add on with another sentence. By the end of the game you have spun a ridiculous tale that will have you all cracking up! To play this outside, use the surroundings to set the stage for your story. Here’s an example of how a story might unfold with 3 people playing on a hike:
- Person 1: Once upon a time, there was a guy and his dog hiking down this same trail…
- Person 2: Suddenly, they heard something in that big tree over there…
- Person 3: The man and his dog looked up, and were shocked at what they saw…
- Person 1: Up in the tree, there was a giant 10 foot tall chipmunk!
- Person 2: The man and dog began to run until they reached this little stream right here…
- Person 3: They turned around, and the giant chipmunk was standing right there!
- Person 1: The chipmunk leaned down, and opened his mouth…
- Person 2: The man and his dog held their breath…
- Person 3: The chipmunk said, “hello, my name is Jim.”
- Person 1: Then Jim the giant chipmunk, the dog, and the guy kept hiking together and had a great day!
This one is pretty simple, but makes the perfect game when you decide to take a quick snack or water break. Convincing your kids to sit down and re-hydrate isn’t always easy. It might not seem as fun and exciting as exploring what lies behind the next bend in the trail, but it’s a necessary part to any outdoor adventure. One way to help persuade your child to take a quick break is by playing I Spy. There are never a shortage of things to “spy” in the woods, so this game will keep you and your little one busy long enough to fuel back up and keep going!
This game is especially fun for all the little hams out there. First, you choose a category that applies to your hike. That could be anything from plants, trees, animals, landscapes etc. You and you child can then take turns acting the things out, while the other person tries to guess what you are! This can get really goofy, especially when you find your kid trying to be a river, or yourself acting like a bear. This game is another that is best played once you reach your hiking destination or are taking a quick break on the trail.
I hope these five games make your time on the trail with your kids memorable and full of laughs!