Mercy Health - Children's Hospital
Kohls Kids in Action
Children and teens need at least 60 minutes of physicial activity most days to stay healthy and avoid obesity. You can get creative when it comes to replacing screen time with play time, without spending alot of money.
Fall Activities for Children
Autumn provides warm, sunny days and cool evenings that are ideal for getting physically active:
- Leaf-raking is a great form of exercise for the entire body. Rather than treating it as a chore, make a game of it. Rake the leaves into a maze, or have a contest with your kids to see who can rake the biggest pile the fastest.
- Make a game out of identifying the different types of trees that are bursting with color this time of year on a fall-color hike in a park or even around your neighborhood.
- Visit your local MetroPark or Wildlife preserve that provides walking trails and bird-watching opportunities.
- Visit a corn maze and pick your pumpkin.
- Go apple picking.
- Visit the zoo
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children and teens require aerobic exercises for better health. Outdoor games involving brisk walking, running, swimming, basketball, skating, jogging or any activity that increases heart rate and breathing improve health and provide family fun. Introduce younger family members to traditional outdoor games such as hide-and-seek, tag, 1-2-3 red light or Red Rover. Don't overlook standards like touch football or a modified game of softball, kickball or softball.
Variations of old-fashioned scavenger hunts provide outdoor family fun. A rainbow hunt sends teams out to collect eggs (real or plastic) in rainbow colors. Team members might collect the entire spectrum of colors and earn matching face-painted stripes or place their eggs in matching egg cups or painted egg cartons. A bug hunt teaches courage as well as the names of insects and provides the joy of crafting homemade bug jars. Collectors create bug houses with colored markers, plastic bottles, boxes or other containers. They collect ants, worms, lady bugs, lightning bugs or crickets while learning what not to catch as well. Teams win recognition for the widest selection of bugs, the largest number and most colorful bug collection. Try photography scavenger hunts that involve taking pictures to add to the collection rather than actual objects.
Any season provides opportunities for building outdoor obstacle courses. Require players to spend three minutes swinging from a rope swing, zip down a sliding board two times in a row, jump across Grandma’s backyard ditch, climb a small tree, swim a lap in the pool or play a round of hopscotch in the driveway before advancing further in the game. Party giver Lisa Kothari at Celebrations website suggests adding hay bales to an obstacle relay race or throwing a large hula hoop around a big pumpkin. Additional tasks might involve pumpkin jumping or crawling under dried stalks of corn stretched across cardboard boxes. Designing the obstacle course often proves more fun than running it or watching others attempt to master another hurdle.
It may seem impossible with so many conflicting obligations, but try to set aside one night that's always family night. It can be one night every week, every other week or, if it's really unavoidable, once a month. Play board games or action games like charades or go out for dinner together. Try to choose an activity that requires active engagement and participation. If the family watches a movie and everyone goes their separate ways immediately after, it's no different than an evening in front of the television. Add a discussion after the movie, trade thoughts and ideas and get everyone used to the idea of communicating with each other.If you find it difficult to negotiate a consistent day, or the only option is once a month, try a little modification. Keep that one day a month as the day when the entire family gets together. However, instead of wasting the other three weeks, turn them into date nights. On a date night, one parent and one child gets to do something fun without anyone else. This gives the kids a chance to get some individual attention, and both the parents and kids the opportunity to connect on a more personal level. Make a rotation chart so each child gets a chance with each parent.
Volunteer as a Family
For a fun way to spend time together while contributing to the community, try volunteering as a family. Volunteering helps instill kids with a sense of compassion and the benefits of service. Charitable activities can be found to satisfy even the pickiest individuals. Make scarves or a large thermos of hot chocolate to distribute during the cold months, make bag lunches to give to the homeless or plan and sponsor a birthday party for a needy kid. Volunteering isn't just about people either. If your family loves animals, take a trip to the pound. Help play with the animals and clean up after them. Or cultivate environmental awareness and get outside by participating in a trash clean up or by creating a backyard compost pile or recycling. Little gestures go a long way, and their value extends far beyond the recipients of the service. For more volunteering ideas, contact United Way of Greater Toledo at 2-1-1.
These activities can be used to demonstrate the benefits of healthy, active play to students.
Go for a Ride
Plan a Bike Day to promote exercise. Have the children bring their bikes from home along with their helmets. Have supplies on hand like crepe paper steamers and balloons that can be used to decorate their bikes for a short parade. Don't forget playing cards and clothespins to attach to the wheels! Block off a section of the parking lot and have a bike rodeo.
Red Light, Green Light
In this game, one person plays the “stoplight” and the rest try to touch him/her. At the start, all the children form a line about 15 feet away from the stoplight child. The stop light faces away from the line of kids and says green light. At this point the kids are allowed to move towards the stoplight. At any point, the stop light may say "red light!" and turn around. If any of the kids are caught moving after this has occurred, they are out. Play resumes when the stoplight turns back around and says "green light". The stop light wins if all the kids are out before anyone is able to touch him/her. Otherwise, the first player to touch the stop light wins the game and earns the right to be "stop light" for the next game.
You will need a parachute - no strings - with a hole in the middle, and 20 or more bouncing balls - one for each player. Number the balls and assign one to each player. Every player places his/her ball on the parachute and everyone grabs and lifts the parachute with two hands. Then everyone starts (usually after the teacher says "GO!") pumping the chute up and down to remove the balls. The player with their ball on the chute last wins.
Squirt shaving cream on a table and let your students "write" with it! The texture is appealing, and even your most reluctant writers will feel confident.
Put a textured object inside of a brown paper lunch bag and pass it around. Some examples are smooth rocks, rough shells, fur fabric, or even ice cubes! Ask the children to guess what they think is inside and describe it according to how it feels.
Make scented playdough and add Kool Aid® instead of food coloring. The powder will not only color the dough, it will make it smell wonderful too! You can also add extracts such as vanilla, orange, or peppermint to make the dough smell good.
Explore the texture of dry sand, then add a little water and talk about how the texture changes. Mix some mud and describe the results.
Fill tubs with different dry materials such as gravel, shredded paper, feathers, shells, beads, etc. Have the students handle all of the materials and describe what they feel.
Snacks & Nutrition
Popping popcorn allows all 5 senses to be engaged. You can hear the kernel’s pop, smell the aroma, feel the warmth and texture of the popped kernels, see the fluffy shapes and taste the flavor.
Using lollipop sticks, cut up several types of fruit into large pieces and speared them onto the sticks. This is safe to do with both toddlers and preschoolers since the sticks are not pointy and the fruit can be cut large enough not to be a choking hazard.
Mrs. Eggplant Head
For a healthy snack that little ones will find inviting, make a giant "Mrs. Eggplant Head" with parts from fruits and vegetables. To start, position an eggplant in the center of a baking sheet. To make it stand up, place an empty cool whip tub on the tray and then cover the tray and tub with foil. The eggplant will stand right up in the tub. Secure all the parts with toothpicks. Use leaf lettuce for the hair. Make a hat out of 1/2 of a grapefruit, decorated with radish roses. Make the eyes with cucumber slices and raisins. Use a slice of red pepper for lips. The ears can be made from cucumbers with dangling radish earrings. Make a necklace for her out of grapes. All around "Mrs. Eggplant Head" you can place sliced carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, grapes or other fruits and vegetables for the children to try.
All That Glitters
The teacher puts glitter all over his/her hand, and then shakes a student's hand. The student then shakes another student's hand and so on. The glitter represents germs. This activity shows how germs spread and the importance of washing hands.
Everyone Plays a Part
Start with 2 large sheet of paper, approx. 4 ft long, one to create a boy and one to create a girl. Then have each child take a turn lying down on the paper. Trace around one child's head, another child's arm, another child's hand, body, leg feet, etc, until you have traced a body. If you have more children use fingers, toes, etc. until every child has one body part drawn. Next, use a sponge for the brain and glue it on the paper. Use spaghetti for bones, rubber bands for muscles, kidneys beans for kidneys, draw a heart or cut one out. Use a rolled up piece of paper for the esophagus, sponges for the lungs, yarn for intestines. Draw the eyes, nose mouth and hair, then have the children name their person. Don't forget to label the kids names with their body parts.
What’s Growing On
Give each child a piece of white bread and ask them to cough on it, sneeze on it, rub their hands with it, or wipe it on different areas of the room (the bathroom, pet cages, etc). Then put each slice in a sealed baggie with the child's name on it and a description of where the germs came from. Lay each of them out to examine over the next couple of weeks (put magnifying glasses on the table so students can see what is growing).
Heart to Heart
Use toilet tissue rolls as stethoscopes. Pair up children to listen to each other’s heartbeats while they are calm. Notice the speed of the beat. Then have one of the pair run or jump for a minute, and then listen to the heartbeat. Notice the difference in the heart rate. A good opportunity to discuss the effects of exercise!