Summer break is upon us, and we know it is important to you that your children stay active. Kids fitness is the best kind of fitness, because it is all fun and games! Using only two common items, you can create a "toy" that can be used all summer long to keep your children's bodies, and brains, moving.
Items Needed: balloons and rice.
What To Do: Fill the balloons with rice using a kitchen funnel until it is about the size of an egg. No funnel in your house? Here is how to quickly make a paper one. Tie the balloon off, and repeat. We recommend making 6-8 balloons per child.
You are now ready to play a multitude of games that stimulate your child’s creativity, cognitive awareness, and gross motor skills, all while keeping physically fit. Here are five great games that you can start with. Each one can be adjusted to entertain and challenge toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary aged children.
Balloon Hunt: This activity essentially trains your child to be the best Easter egg hunter in the neighborhood. Designate a hiding area--such as the living room or backyard--and have your children wait in a separate space. Hide the balloons, release the kids, and let the search begin. For toddlers and preschoolers, simply finding the balloons is excitement enough. For older kids, you can make the game more difficult by expanding the hiding area, timing them, or making a competition out of it.
Balloon Basketball: Using a bowl, bucket, large Tupperware container, or whatever else you can find, set up a “hoop” and have your children attempt to make a basket with the rice balloons. Difficulty can be adjusted for your child’s age by the placement of the container and/or size of the hoop (i.e. a cup vs. a salad bowl). You can create a moving target by having someone hold the bowl and walk across the room, or play the classic game of H-O-R-S-E. You might find that you have as much fun as the kids during this game!
Balloon Bag Dance: This game is best suited for toddlers and preschoolers. If you are not already familiar with the popular “Beanbag Boogie,” you can listen to it here. Simply forego the bean bags for your rice balloons, and watch those kiddos get down!
Shuttle Race Relays: Toddlers and preschoolers love this game because they get a chance to run and be silly, and older kids really thrive on the competition factor. Place the balloons at one end of a room or yard, and a bucket or bowl at the other end. Have your child transport one balloon at a time to the container in a variety of ways: running, hopping, bear-crawling with the balloon under his/her chin, etc. If you have more than one kid playing, these can be set up as relay races. Have only one older child? Grab a timer and challenge him to beat his own course record.
Obstacle Course: Using items in your home, set up an obstacle course in which your child has to move all of the balloons from one end to the other. Some ideas for the course include: a couch cushion tunnel, crawling under dining chairs, hopping over pillows, etc. An obstacle course is a great game to play outside as well. The children can choose to move the balloons one at a time, or as many as they can carry. If they drop one, it “falls into the lava” and cannot be retrieved. You can encourage your children to hold the balloons under their chins, armpits, etc. to make the game more challenging and silly.
These simple rice balloons provide endless opportunities for fitness games that can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. Watch as your kids create their own games after playing these ones (children are very creative beings after all), and rest easy knowing that they have exercised both their bodies and brains, and had fun quality time with you. Afterward, you can have some guilt-free "me time" or let your children watch TV without shame--hey, we all do it!
For more information and ideas on how to keep your family fit with Merritt Athletic Clubs, please contact us.