physical activity is one of the most important daily needs of a child. it’s vital for their health and development and lays the foundation for lifelong physical fitness. and what better way to get your kids movin’ than by doing it together? spending time together as a family inevitably creates a stronger bond between you and your children, it encourages healthy communication (which studies have shown leads to a better performance in school), and it lessens behavioral issues. on top of that, kids learn by example, so by watching you get outside and be active, your children will be inspired to follow suit. the family that plays together, stays together.
need some bright ideas to get the family-fun party started? we just so happen to have a few!
[take a nature walk]
grab a backpack, a few bottles of water, some snacks and head on into the woods. [pretend you have to survive in the forest]: gather sticks for firewood, talk about how you would make fire and find food and build shelter. draw pictures in the dirt and collect leaves and rocks to do projects with at home. climb trees. try to identify as many different animals and colors and shapes as you can find, then have your children close their eyes and listen to the sounds and take in the smells around them. this instills a greater understanding and appreciation of the earth and all its moving parts.
break out the rakes (there are child-sized rakes available at any local hardware store) and get to work! this is actually a really great way to spend a fall afternoon with your kids. rake up all the fallen leaves and let your little ones play in the piles. [identify as many different types of leaves as you can, and point out their different features and functions]. explain their importance as part of a plant (just like each family member is an important part of the family) and why they fall each autumn. gather all the leaves and store them in a leaf bin as you talk to your child about composting and the leaves’ role in the process. you will be enjoying quality time outside with your brood, and your lawn will look fabulous!
grab a kickball and set up a home plate and three bases (you can purchase rubber bases at any sporting goods store, or even just make some out of cardboard) outside in the yard. choose one person to be the pitcher, one to be the kicker and then put everyone else in the outfield, rotating positions as you play. the pitcher rolls the ball to the kicker at home plate, the kicker kicks the ball and then runs the bases until he reaches home plate again. if the kicked ball is caught, or the kicker is tagged with the ball outside of a base, he’s out, and it’s the next kicker’s turn. [it teaches good sportsmanship and rule-following and provides some heart-pumping cardiovascular exercise.]
this one’s pretty simple, no special equipment needed, but it’s always a hit with the kiddos. choose a safe zone (a certain tree or a playground slide, for example) and one person to be “it” (the tagger). the tagger counts to 10 as the other players (the runners) get a running start, then the tagger chases the runners until she can tag one of them, rendering the tagged player as the new tagger, and on and on it goes. if a runner is touching the safe zone, he cannot be tagged. this is another great cardiovascular workout, and it can be played absolutely anywhere. kids love seeing their parents being silly and engaging with them in activities that they themselves find enjoyable.
nothing gets a kid movin’ quite like a scavenger hunt. while being tasked with the retrieval and delivery of several very specific items (or what I call grocery shopping) may sound tedious to an adult, it’s the stuff children’s dreams are made of. they thrive on discovery, on being able to explore their curiosities, on feeling helpful, on making you proud, on receiving approval. they love nothing more (well, ice cream may be a very close second). give each of your kids a list of items and a reusable bag and head to the park. lists can include things like a feather, acorns, pinecones, a certain type of leaf, a piece of a bird’s eggshell, something round, something fuzzy, something pretty, something not typically found in nature (litter), something white, something edible. the sky’s the limit.
what do you do to get your family movin’? we wanna know! tag your family fun with #gottabethefitbook for a chance to be a featured #fitfamily.
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