Active Play Their Way

June 23, 2017

Multiracial group of friends walking at the beach

Help families recognize that if they are not getting minimum levels of physical activity each day, it is time to do something different. Kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Youth leaders and educators can send healthy messages and lead by example:

  • Include fun summertime ideas in newsletters and on websites. Include information on opportunities in your community such as water splash parks, playgrounds and nature trails.
  • Create bulletin boards and talk about different activity ideas.
  • In summer programs, plan “brain breaks” during which kids “act out” different suggestions that help them “move more.” For example, make the motions and pretend to play badminton, volleyball, tennis, swimming (all the different strokes) and baseball.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt that keeps kids moving. This week’s WOWS Newsletter has several fun ideas.

Group of happy kids running through green field

We enjoy healthy balance with tasty and smart food choices paired with Active Play, Every Day. Move with fun summertime activities, like the ones below! For more summertime “balancing moves,” see the May 31st Healthy Kids Challenge WOWS Newsletter.

Create a fun fitness course:

  1. Place two buckets several steps apart. Fill one with water and keep the other empty. Give kids a plastic cup and have them, using the cup, race to see who can transfer water from the full bucket to the empty one first.
  2. Set up a bean bag toss with hula hoops. Place three hula hoops on the ground in the shape of a triangle. Have kids try to get a bean bag within the circle of all three hoops.
  3. Run a “Ball and Glove Relay.”
    • Supplies: gallon milk jugs, with the bottoms cut off (to use like ball gloves) and tennis balls.
    • Divide kids into teams, and give each team one milk jug “ball glove” and one tennis ball.
    • Have each team line up and explain the relay:
      • The first person in line is the catcher and holds the milk jug. He stands a few feet from the rest of the kids on his team. (The distance from the pitcher to the catcher depends on the age of the child.)
      • The second kid in line on that team is the pitcher and tosses the ball underhanded to the kid with the milk jug.
      • When the ball is caught (they should try again if they miss!), the pitcher moves to become the catcher, the catcher moves to the end of the line and the game continues until everyone has had a turn. If teams are small, do two or three turns.

Note: Instead of declaring winners or losers, have game leaders time each team; then have the teams do the relay again and see if they can improve their time. Encourage teams to create a team name and cheer.

Unplug with Active Play

April 17, 2017

SFW-logo-2017

May 1-7 is Screen-Free Week, a time to unplug and connect, learn and play. It is a great time to set goals for replacing some of the screen time with Active Play. Help make it easier for kids to have Active Play, Every Day by setting them up for success with these ideas:

  1. Similar to a recipe file, create an activity file. Write the name and description of an activity and the supplies or equipment needed. When kids are bored they can “draw” a card out of the file and enjoy some Active Play.
  2. Create “Active Play Kits” or tubs of supplies. As a family, give the kits as birthday or holiday gifts. As an organization, put kits together for fundraising raffles. Here are some ideas to inspire your creativity:
    • Dancing scarves with music DVDs: Suggest different movements like “up high” or “down low.”
    • Obstacle course supplies: Create a course with plastic cones, Hula Hoops, a pop-up tunnel and noodles (used as hurdles).
    • Soccer ball and cones: Create a drill course with plastic cones and one or more age-appropriate soccer balls.
    • Giant foam dice and activity cards: Create cards with physical activity instructions for each number rolled, i.e. roll a 4 = do 4 jumping jacks.
    • Lawn games: For example, Bocce ball, badminton and bean bag toss.
    • Miscellaneous active play equipment: Jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and Frisbees.

Children building a snow man and having a snowball fight

Whether at home or at school, as winter vacation approaches and excitement builds, it is hard to keep kids focused. Fitting in fun “brain break” activities during this time not only helps reduce the “fidgets,” they add healthier balance to this season of ooey, gooey desserts and sweet treats!

In the classroom, or at home, this is a great time to use “brain breaks” and Active Play as a reward! This month’s WOWS Newsletters suggest “brain break” ideas that can be used anywhere.

Sports Charades

  1. Have kids develop a list of 8-10 ideas for getting more Active Play and less TV and screen time. Examples: bicycling – dancing – hitting baseballs – jumping rope – juggling/kicking a soccer ball – running/walking – serving a tennis balls – shooting hoops – skating – swimming – disc golf – hopscotch.
  2. Act out each of the ideas on the list.
  3. Record the list for future discussion about potential barriers to physical activity and achieving goals for at least an hour of Active Play most or all days.

Children Having Fun And Balancing On Tree In Fall Woodland

Let’s put the spotlight on Active Play. It is one part of the Healthy Balance equation (“Active Play” + Healthy Eating Choices = Healthy Balance). It also enhances learning, including nutrition classroom lessons. Every HKC Balance My Day Curriculum nutrition lesson has a corresponding Move and Learn activity. The following activity demonstrates how Active Play can be integrated in the classroom. This example works well for Pre-K to 2nd Grade students. An expanded version is found in the Wellness Solutions Toolkit. For another example, see the October 26th WOWS Newsletter “Spellercise” activity.

Simon Sez, Breakfast gives GO Power!

  1. Talk with students about how eating breakfast makes learning easier and helps kids feel and look their best.
  2. Look at a MyPlate poster (choosemyplate.gov). Point out the different food groups and how we usually eat foods from the Grains Group at Breakfast. Talk about how we get the BEST GO Power when we choose foods from other groups to go with our Grains. Examples: CEREAL with low fat MILK and a BANANA. A whole wheat TORTILLA with low fat CHEESE and APPLE slices. Whole wheat TOAST with scrambled EGG and STRAWBERRIES.
  3. Play Simon Sez to emphasize the benefits of eating breakfast. When YES, students perform movements the leader calls out such as hop, jump, skip, or swim.
    • Simon Sez: Eating breakfast every day helps give you GO Power. (YES)
    • Simon Sez: Missing breakfast gives you GO Power. (NO)
    • Simon Sez: Eating breakfast can help make learning easier. (YES)
    • Simon Sez: Eating breakfast helps kids feel and look their best. (YES)

If you are integrating Active Play into classroom learning or in other situations now, share your ideas with others. Doing so expands opportunities for enhanced learning and healthy balance!

Syracuse Children's Health Fair
Active Play can be a part of every day…and it’s just that, play – something that is fun and enjoyable. Rainy days encourage me to be creative and think of ways to get moving while we are stuck inside. It certainly doesn’t take fancy equipment or a gym membership to be active. I thought about ordinary items around my house (and yours) that can get you jumping, running, and moving around! Here are 5 tips for active play on a rainy day:

  • Scarves – make a game out of tossing it up and trying to catch it. Try twirling around before catching it.
  • Balloons – blow them up and start batting them around. How high can you toss it? Can you toss it up, do a jumping jack and catch it before it hits the ground? Play a game of toss with a partner. Pretend each balloon is a tasty fruit or veggie in that color and name as you toss!
  • Paper Plates – use as a Frisbee or scatter a few on the ground and pretend to be a frog leaping from one to the other.
  • Paper – crunch up a piece of paper into a ball shape and practice shooting hoops into a small bucket or trash can.
  • Music -put some tunes on and join in with your kids! You will get to spend quality time and have fun with them as well as get your heart pumping.

Here’s to Active Play every day!

Limited Time: Even if you only have 5 minutes to spare, take kids outside and let them run, gallop, skip or jump from one iStock_000014799078Smalldesignated point to another. It’s a great brain break!

Active Play in Lessons: Incorporate movement in class lessons: science (explore nature outdoors), language arts (recite spelling words while walking), math (count, add or multiply the trees, plants and such while walking outside).

Morning Walks: Schedule school-wide morning walks routinely and include special guests (school nurse, counselor, PE teacher or school nutrition director).

Rewards: Use outdoor active play to encourage good behavior and class successes instead of food-related rewards. Let kids play their favorite outdoor group game or spend time on the playground.

Help kids hear the message that physical activity is healthy and fun!
Let them see a variety of different ways to move and be active.
Let them do by providing opportunities for active play during the day.

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