When school’s out, it’s all too easy for kids to end up spending all day on the couch, or glued to their various screens. But with rates of childhood obesity more than double what they were in the last generation – and quadruple for preteens — it’s more important than ever to keep kids active and energetic. Not to mention the need to get them outside; a recent poll found that only ten percent of American kids say they spend some time outdoors every day.
Sound familiar? Give these fun activities a try, and see what sticks. You never know what might become your family’s next summer tradition.
Fly a Kite
This age-old family favorite has been made even better by the recent availability of many more styles of kite. Some are designed to be easier to fly, others are made to maneuver, dance, even fight. One of the easiest kites to fly for beginners is the super stable “delta” kite, with a triangular airplane-like design that requires only the gentlest of breezes to stay aloft. For even more enjoyable family togetherness, buy a kite-building kit and make one yourself.
Row a Boat
Kids love boats of all kinds, so this is one kind of fitness you won’t have to fight with them about. And boating is big on variety; you can try kayaking, canoeing, rowing, or sailing, and see what proves most popular. Day camps teach sailing, kayaking, and other types of boating skills, and can offer a great introduction. One of the best ways to introduce small children to boating is to take the family out on a paddleboat, which can be rented cheaply at many town lakes and ponds.
Shoot a Rocket
Nothing gets kids excited like the idea of shooting off a rocket. And rocket launching is no spectator sport – they’ve got to watch it, follow it, and run to pick it up. Start easy with a toy like Stomp Rockets, which you can buy from any toy or general store like Target or Walmart. They’re super simple to use, and they have the additional fitness benefit of being “kid-powered” – you have to jump on them to make them go! Kids also love building rockets themselves. You can buy a kit, or even make rockets from soda bottles and other supplies you already have around the house.
Run with Ribbons
If you or your kids have watched rhythmic gymnastics in this summer’s Olympic Games, you know that running and dancing with ribbons is serious sport. And it’s something you and your kids can do, too! There’s no need to purchase equipment; use scarves, crepe paper streamers, or cut long strips of lightweight fabric. Your kids will love trying out their own moves, or you can watch a video ahead of time and try to copy competitive routines. Here are the 2012 group finals to inspire you.