The past few months have, understandably, been frustrating for anyone who wants to go out and ride their bike. But gradually, we are being allowed to get out and about again with our families.
Most people know that cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit and active but it is also a good way to boost immunity and your mental wellbeing – essential in these uncertain times. The Government has now announced that we are able to take more exercise and is actively encouraging us to ‘get on our bikes’ – great news for our young budding cyclists!
Here are some ways that you can take part!
- ‘Virtually’ challenge your colleagues and friends and compare your results online
- Head out on a cycling picnic with your household, taking care of the social distancing guidance
- Go on a cycling ‘treasure hunt’ – round the garden or outdoor space in your setting
- Cycle in fancy dress and share your photos online
- Cycle food to vulnerable people – again, taking care of the social distancing guidelines
Did you know….?
Cycling helps children develop their leg muscles and strengthens their bones. The continued exercise will help build their stamina and improve their cardiovascular development. It will also increase their coordination and balance.
Each year, Cycling UK’s Bike Week brings thousands of people together all over the UK to enjoy the simple pleasures of riding a bike and encourages them to share their experiences.
Obviously, this year is different, and in the current climate, helping people to come together to ride may not be possible. So for one year only (hopefully!) Bike Week goes ‘virtual’ and from 6th to 14th June is holding a series of online fun Bike Week events called #7daysofcycling that are suitable for adults and children of all ages.
Learning through play is the best means of educating the children we care for about the world around them. Here are a few activities and games that can be used to teach children about bicycles and road safety. They can be done at home or in your setting!
This is a great game to do indoors that everyone can get involved in. Make two ‘traffic lights’ out of old cardboard boxes - one with the red and one with the green light “shining”. If you have flags or want to make them, that’s a great alternative. Ask the children to stand in a horizontal line facing you.
When you show them the green traffic light they can start jogging on the spot. When you show the red one, they must all stop jogging. Those that don’t stop when you show the red light and keep jogging, are out of the game. A little like musical statues, but with traffic lights instead! This game is a great way of demonstrating early on the significance of traffic lights.
“Wear your helmet!”
The importance of teaching children about wearing a helmet when cycling should never be underestimated and this game easily introduces the concept of having to wear a helmet. Ask the children to stand in a circle and place one less helmet than the number of children in the middle (e.g. if you have 6 children then place 5 helmets in the centre of the circle). The children walk around in a circle and when you say ‘stop’, they need to run to the circle centre, grab a helmet or hat and put it on. The child that didn’t get a helmet is out of the game and they take a helmet with them.
Bicycle course game
This one is excellent if you have an outside space you can use, either at the nursery or in the garden. You can make bicycle lanes with rope, string, or coloured chalks, add your traffic lights that you made for the traffic light game and draw with chalk zebra crossings. The children can ride around the course on their bikes (or pretend bikes) and as they go around the course, you can introduce them to traffic rules, and bike safety.
Pretend play - bike mechanic
Children love playing pretend. You can make plasters coloured in black as puncture repair patches, bring in to the setting a pump. They will love pretending to fill air, repair punctures and get their bikes repaired. This time can be used wisely to talk about how it’s important to take care of all vehicles, including bikes.
The younger ones aren’t always 100% engaged in cycling, especially when they are still learning to ride their bikes, or are riding with stabilisers. Here are some top tips for keeping them interested:
It’s not just Peppa Pig who loves muddy puddles. Try and go out of your way to find some big puddles to ride through which will bring many a giggle to the most reluctant of young riders.
Plan a fun destination
Even when social distancing, it is still possible to have a destination and a purpose to your outing. Riding for the sake of riding may work for some children, but for others, riding to a duck pond, a big bridge, or even in search of those muddy puddles just might be the incentive they need.
Go off the beaten track
Children love exploring so you could try a nature trail or some off-roading for a bit of variety. It’s also a softer fall if they topple over!
The hills are alive…!
There is something wonderful about getting to the top a hill and then being able to free wheel down again. Find a (gentle) grass hill and let the children have fun gliding down it.
Know when to ‘call it a day’
Knowing when it’s time to turn around and head home is vital for a successful bike ride. Long haul marathon bike rides usually end poorly when children get too tired to keep going.
Keep parents engaged
If you are currently working at a nursery or whether it’s closed, using Bike Week is a great way to keep the engagement going with parents and ask them to get involved.
Why not ask them to send you their photos from their Bike Week activities so you can upload on to your website, your social media pages or even include in a newsletter?
Videos and photos can be shared using the hashtags #7daysofcycling and #BikeWeekUK for a chance to win prizes. At the end of the seven day challenge Cycle UK will randomly select participants in the challenge to receive a prize.
Did you know…?
Following exceptional levels of walking and cycling across the UK during the pandemic, the government has pledged £2 billion to local authorities to create a ‘new era’ for cycling and walking. More road space will be allocated to cater for significantly-increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, vouchers will be issued for cycle repairs to encourage people to get their old bikes out of the shed, and plans are being developed for greater provision of bike-fixing facilities. It is anticipated that many will take up the Cycle to Work scheme, which gives employees a discount on a new bike. Government source here.