In the modern era of technology, it's becoming more and more important for children and adults alike to get outside, stretch their legs, and have fun in new and old ways. Rather than locking into hours of television, or video games, getting out and gaming can really improve the mental and physical health of children. Remember playing ring-a-round-a-roses on the schoolyard or getting super involved in that intense game of tag? Well, some of those games you once played have new and incredibly fun adaptations that you should try with your kids!
Let's talk about why keeping active is important, starting with physical health. Exercise is critical for everyone, but perhaps more so for young children, and there is no better place to exercise than out in the open. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, which is the key player in bone growth and health, and studies have shown that it can also reduce stress and help strengthen your immune system. Regular exercise helps to build muscle and reduce the chance of obesity, but it also supports the development of your respiratory and circulatory systems, which ultimately help you breathe and maintain your nutrient circulation. But being outside doesn't just affect your physical health; it sustains and supports good mental health. Studies have shown that both attention and creativity are increased with regular outdoor exposure, and those statistics only increase when factoring in regular exercise. For young children, the construction of secure mental health is crucial for their development and only helps them learn more and stay more focused.
So what are the best ways to have fun outside? Lucky for you, we have compiled some of our favorite games that are perfect for young children. From classics to modern variations, there is a game here for everyone:
To kick us off, let's start with a classic; red light, green light. To play, you first have to choose someone to be 'the stoplight.' That player then faces away from everyone else, and the remaining players stand around 15ft to 25ft away. Once set up, 'the stoplight' shouts 'green light,' and the players start to move towards 'the stoplight,' but this is the fun bit, if the 'the stoplight' shouts red light, they quickly spin around, and anyone who is caught moving loses the game! The game is over when everyone is out or when someone reaches the spotlight first.
Next up, Spud. This game is a combination of dodgeball and tag. One player has a ball, and their aim is to throw the ball at everyone four times, spelling out the word S-P-U-D. However, players only have a few seconds to run away from the thrower, and once the thrower begins, they are frozen in place! You can try and dodge the ball, but you can not move your feet. Good luck!
The clue is in the title! If you have a large enough outdoor space to utilize, or even better, a wooded area, this classic game remains a big hit with younger children. Simply turn around, close your eyes, and let the little ones - or you if it's your turn - go hide themselves. Count to your chosen number, then give chase. Pets sometimes like to get involved too.
No grass? No problem. With a little chalk, concrete can be turned into a colorful hopscotch diagram. The lasting appeal of this game is the way it varies with every turn and throw...also jumping on one leg is always fun and takes skill. Full rules and some fresh twists on the game style can be found here.
A summer camp standard now. Capture The Flag is one of the most exhilarating and competitive outdoor games going. Best played in larger groups, simply find a big open space, divide the players into two teams and create a flag or totem to steal. Halve the area into two sides and then have the players start in some neutral place. Then begins a ballet of attack and defense where those tagged in their attempt to steal the flag are forced to do tasks like star jumps or even push-ups!
Following the trend is tag. Not many rules to remember here; just choose who's 'It' and then run away until they can place a hand on you. Great cardio and always guaranteed to put a smile on kids' and parents' faces.
Here's one to keep minds sharp too. Select someone to be 'Simon' and listen to every command they give and then act on it (within reason!). Simon Says: Hold one arm in the air, lift one leg, spin around, being common examples. However, if the command doesn't have the phrase 'Simon Says...' in front of it and the player acts, they've failed and will now have to be Simon themselves.
In these chaotic and stressful times, there's nothing like a little mindfulness to help keep calm. Tai Chi is a series of meditative movements that help enhance physical and mental health, as well as to improve posture, balance, and flexibility. Originating in China hundreds of years ago as a fighting art, it's recently grown in popularity in the West as a way to relax and find some inner peace. Lessons and basics can easily be found on Youtube.
Excellent exercise that strengthens coordination, jump rope will tire anyone out after long enough. All you need is a jump rope and some strong knees, and you’ll be burning calories in no time. In fact, jumping rope can work out to 20 calories per minute. The average person could burn 200 to 300 jump calories in a 15-minute workout.
With plenty of softer frisbees now on the market, it's hard to beat a good old fashioned game of frisbee for convenience and simplicity. Thow it and try to catch it. Easy. Before long, they'll be trying trick shots and testing their limits.
The other option is to make your own game! By looking around the house and using a bit of imagination, you can easily develop a fun and safe way to play and work out outside. 'Catch The Flag: Dog Edition' - where the 'flag' is tied to your pooches' collar, for instance. Alternately you can build a fun obstacle course for them to weave around or time the kids as they take the linen in from drying outside. Even chores can be made fun.