When my children were small, someone told me about a penny walk. I decided to give it a try. It was some of the most fun we had as a family. The best part—it only cost us a penny.
On these evenings when the temperatures are dropping and the kids are bored, here's a simple idea that will reap you lots of benefits—a penny walk.
So easy. Find a shiny penny, gather the family, and go.
Gather the clan
Spontaneously call the family together, telling them to dress comfortably and get their shoes on. Put some enthusiasm in it.
Leave the electronics behind
No cell phones (except one for an adult for emergency), no MP3 players, no ear buds. This is talk time.
Pull out the penny
Find a shiny new penny, and show it to everyone. Tell them you are going to go on a magical adventure with that special coin.
Choose an order
Start with youngest and go to oldest or vice versa. Go by alphabetical order. It doesn't matter, as long as everyone gets a turn.
Decide which is which
Heads is left, tails is right, and a spin is straight ahead—or any way you choose. You can set the rule before you go and stick with it or let the "flipper" decide before they toss the coin.
Set your finish line
Wherever you go, you have to get back home, so decide on how that will happen. Either set a time limit, a distance limit, or a certain number of flips of the coin (everyone gets 2, for instance.)
Walk out the front door and to the end of the walk. Now have the first person flip the coin. Go the direction indicated.
Before you make the turn, talk about what you might see on the way and see who's right. Like, "I think we'll see 1 dog or 2 cats or a rosebush or a man with a cane. If your kids are imaginative, maybe they will see dragons, knights, race cars or spaceships.
Return to home base
When the adventure has reached its pre-decided conclusion, head everyone home for a fun snack and a recap of the adventure.
Mix it up
When you get tired of your neighborhood, or if you life in a rural area, try driving to an unknown part of town for your walk.
There are lots of benefits to the magical penny walk.
This is a great way to bond as a family. Youngsters love it. The older ones might roll their eyes, but encourage them to give it their best shot.
The cost of this activity is exactly one cent. Can't beat the price.
This is a chance for little ones to really use their imaginations, and if you join in you will be encouraging writers and artists and all kinds of creative freedom.
In this day and age, when we all spend far too many hours in front of glowing electronics, this is a perfect opportunity to get out for some essential fresh air and exercise without using those heinous words.
If your kids are too old for the imagination thing, try some other conversation starters: "If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, real or imaginary, who would it be and why?" "If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?" "What do you think are good financial investments?"
When your children get older, they will not remember the nights you worked late as much as they will remember the time you spent with them. This is a chance to build memories and create family traditions that will go into the next generations.
It is more critical than ever that we find opportunities to spend quality time with our families. Everyone needs to know they have family to lean on in tough times. Bonding, communicating, exercising and frugality are all benefits from the penny walk.