These are a collection of our favourite family games to play on hikes. Pick whichever will work with the age of your kids and enjoy.
I Spy Colours:
We play I spy with colours instead of letters so that our youngest can join in. e.g., I spy something that is red. For older kids, change the colours to the letter and hope your kids don’t know the botanical name of the plants.
I am thinking of an animal:
There are two ways to play. One person thinks of an animal, and the others ask yes or no questions to narrow down what it could be, e.g. Does it have four legs? The other way to play is to continuously describe the animal until someone gets it. e.g., It’s a marsupial. It has two legs and a long, strong tail.
Someone thinks of an animal, and you have to guess the animal in 20 questions or less by asking strategic yes or no questions, e.g. Does it live in the water? Is it a mammal? Obviously, you could make this easier or harder by altering the number of questions.
Animal, Vegetable, Mineral:
This guessing game is a more advanced option for older children. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral opens the field to literally anything. Simon’s brother once picked a ‘hole’ and had the family guessing for hours.
The Alphabet Game:
Choose a particular topic, e.g. animals, cities, sports or foods. Then starting with the letter A, each person takes turns naming an item that begins with that letter. Continue through the alphabet until you reach Z.
This is a round-robin game where everyone takes a turn to name a character from the book until someone has a total mind blank and only one player remains. There are over 700 characters in total. For Potter fans, this game can literally go for hours while you agonise over the name of Hagrid’s mother. Rules we play include you can’t use a nickname if someone else can remember the character’s full name. This same game can be adapted to any book, TV series or movie your family is into.
Our kids are learning to count forwards and backward, so we often count how many steps we take. When we reach a set of stairs, we count how many there are, and if it’s a return trail on the way back, we do a count down. Our oldest is also practising counting by twos, fives, tens and hundreds, which is all part of the Australian curriculum. So why not mash two potatoes with one fork. Older children’s adaptations include practising odd and even counting patterns, timetables, or even spelling games.
Sing Songs and Play Music:
Singing songs doesn’t usually last long because Liz is a terrible singer and everyone pleads with her to stop. However, the kids like to sing Mr Clickity Cane and The Ants Go Marching. We’re also attempting to teach them the words to something more along the lines of Rip Rip Woodchip. (Don’t hate on the classics). Audiobooks are another option for older kids.
Whose Line Is It:
Pick a quote from a movie your kids have watched. Everyone has to guess which movie it’s from and who says it. e.g. “I’m surrounded by idiots.” You get one point for guessing The Lion King and another for guessing Scar.
Count Them All:
Pick something likely to be seen many times along the hike, e.g. trail markers, a specific type of tree, or termite mounds. Get the kids to count how many they see along the trail.
Let kids document their hike by taking photos. Their perspective is often quite different from ours, and they often find things that we miss.
This one’s a classic. All you have to do is set a challenge to find something. e.g. find something blue, something that starts with the letter P, something smooth, etc. We play that they only have to declare they have found it, keeping with the Leave No Trace message we are teaching our kids.
Follow the Leader:
Our kids love this one. The leader gets to walk in the front, and everyone copies them no matter how silly they are.
Binoculars and walkie-talkies:
These can be fun things to take on your hike for the kids to use to spot wildlife and exciting things along the way.
If there is a trail map, we grab one for the kids and let them point out the way. Our kids love being in charge of the map and working out where we are and when the next checkpoint is. We take a photo of the map, so we also have a copy if they lose it or have Liz’s sense of direction.
Have a great time out on the trails with your little ones. If you’re looking for more information on hiking with kids, check out our How We Got Our Kids to Love Hiking and What We Pack blogs. We also have quite a few hikes that we’ve done on our Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook if you’re looking for more inspiration. BTW Fridwulfa is the name of Hagrids’ mother, in case it’s still bugging you.