A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who was contemplating getting her child a handheld electronic gaming system. Recognizing I might be a little biased, I recommended against the gaming system because it does not promote physical activity. However, I also recognize that kids need to be entertained and engaged, which is why electronic games are so enticing to parents. Trust me, I get this.
It got me thinking about ways parents can engage and entertain their children while they are getting exercise. I realized the answer was staring at me on the game shelf in the family room. When I really looked at the games we have, I was impressed with how many of them promote physical activity. Two of our family’s favorite games are Twister and Hullabaloo. I modify them to fit the skill level of my 8-year-old vs. my 3-year-old, but we have a lot of fun with both of these games.
Here are a few more games that you can play at home or at the park that will get your kids moving and off the video games.
Huckle-buckle-bean-buckle. Hide a small object in a room or outside and have your children search for it. Once they see it, they act like they don’t but instead return back to you and say “Huckle-buckle-bean-buckle.” The rest of the children keep looking until everyone has found the object. Once everyone has found it, the first person to discover the object gets to hide it. This is a great game to play when you have neighborhood kids over playing at your house.
Frisbee golf. Set up targets around your yard or play room. You can use a Frisbee, soft ball, or aluminum foil rolled into a ball. Have your kids try to hit the target and keep track of how many times it takes them. This game is also a huge crowd pleaser at birthday parties!
Hula/bean relays. Get a hula hoop and some bean bags. Place the hula hoop in the center of the yard. Have three or four bean bags per person placed about 10 yards from the hula hoop. When you say go the participants race to put their first bean bag inside the hula hoop. Once they place their first bean bag they race back to retrieve their second. They do this until all the bean bags have been placed in the hula hoop. This is a great game for preschool age children and you can increase the distance for older children.
Fun games that promote physical activity don’t have to cost anything. You could also quickly put together a nature scavenger hunt where your kids need to find things like, leaves, rocks of a certain shape, sticks that are a specific length or shape, or whatever else you have at your disposal. The point is to keep your kids moving, exploring, and finding joy in being active.