Monday, June 13, 2011

Outdoor Adventures: Bike Ride by Erin Uda

This week we’re going to pull out the big wheels, scooters, and bikes, and go for a ride!

If you have adventurous souls in your family, just going around the block or neighborhood might not be enough for them. If this is the case for you, break out the bike rack, pack up the car, and find a great park or trail nearby. If you’re concerned about keeping your child in sight, be sure to find a park without too many trees or hills along the path. It’s never a bad idea to plan your route close to a playground, just in case those legs get tired a little earlier than expected! While you ride, talk about what your children see, where you’re headed, where you’ve been, and what they think you’ll see next. Ask questions and enjoy your child’s innocent and creative answers.

Try letting your children race against each other in a wide, safe area like an empty parking lot. Be sure to agree on the start and end points before you race to avoid fighting. Pretending to be a race car can make it even more fun. And don't forget to wear your safety gear!!!

If you’re feeling particularly enthusiastic, try making your bike ride into a treasure hunt. For the little ones, find pictures of local landmarks and arrange them on a piece of paper; try connecting them with a dashed line so you child can see what path you’ll be traveling. Draw a big X at the end, and maybe hide some treasure there (or bring the treasure with you and break it out when you get there). Dress up as pirates and talk with a funny accent. Kids love to use their imagination, so the more ridiculous you are the more fun you’ll have!

(Click image for source and for ideas on how to make treasure maps with your kids!)

For older children, use this as an opportunity to learn to read a real map. Try showing them a Google maps version of your neighborhood and let them create the route, highlighting familiar landmarks before you go. Or create a distance goal and challenge them to figure out how long your route will be.

If you’re going to be out a while, try bringing a PICNIC. In fact, you could even have your child tote his own meal in the back of his big wheel or in a small backpack. Bring an old blanket and a lot of napkins, and you’re all set for a perfect day outside!

There are a lot of craft projects that tie in nicely with a bike theme, but some of my favorites from childhood are the noise-makers on your bike spokes (try putting beads or cards on them), and streamers on the handle bars. Baskets are also fun and functional. HERE is a fun tutorial for a bike basket that you could use!

Or you could decorate an old helmet. Spray paint it before-hand and let your child decorate it with stickers, markers, or paint.

Suggested Reading:

  • Duck on a Bike, David Shannon (P Shannon; ISBN: 9780153565687)
  • Because I Could Not Stop My Bike and other Poems, Karen Jo Shapiro (Call #:J 811 Sh 199; ISBN: 9781580891059)
  • Mike and the Bike, Michael Ward (P Ward; ISBN: 9781594414985)
  • My Sister’s Rusty Bike, Jim Aylesworth (P Aylesworth; ISBN: 9780689317989)
  • The Red Racer, Audrey Wood (P Wood; ISBN: 9780689826825)
  • The Bike Lesson, Stan & Jan Berenstain (B Berenstain; ISBN: 9780394800363)
  • Me and My Bike, Ander (P Ander; ISBN: 9780978755027)

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