Monday, April 21, 2014

Fun pre-hike activity: Walking stick painting

Even if you’re excited, the kids’ calls to instead buy the latest video game may drown out your announcement that a family hike is planned this weekend. What to do? Try this pre-hike activity with children to get them excited about hitting the trail rather than the Wii console.

What to do? One tried and true possibility is to have kids paint homemade walking sticks.

After you’ve made your walking stick, have your child decorate it using craft paint.

Acrylic paint works well. Any color is fine, though you’ll need at least three to create interesting patterns. Unlike furniture or shelving, the walking stick doesn’t need to be sanded; the rough look is desirable for a walking stick!

Among the patterns your child might paint are stripes going around the stick, crosshatching, and crosshatching in one color over a stripe. Vary the width of the stripes; one color can be several inches wide and the next color only a couple, and the one after that somewhere between the first two. Leave some of the wood au naturel (or unpainted). Another pattern possibility is to paint the contours of a large knot in the wood in a ring of different colored stripes.

Your child won’t be able to wait to use the newly decorated walking stick on the trail!

Materials: Homemade walking stick, acrylic paint (three colors minimum), brushes

Ages: 4 and up

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.