Many parents worry that their kids spend too much time sitting in front of screens on weekends, after school and over the school holidays. We all know that it’s important for both children and adults to be getting active every day, but thinking of fun ways to get kids away from the screens can be a challenge.
Below we’ve got some fun and creative ways to get children up and about, answers for the inevitable “I’m boooored” whinges, and methods for letting those pre-bed wiggles out.
1. Treasure hunt
A good treasure hunt can be a workout for the body and mind. Pick your treasure and somewhere to hide it, and then think about the steps that will need to be taken to get there. Do they need to complete a physical challenge, like running up the backyard or (safely) climbing a tree to find a clue? Will there be a riddle to solve?
Your child’s age will determine the difficulty of your hunt. For double the fun, ask them to create a treasure hunt for you to complete, too. If you get stuck, there are lots of tips for creating unique treasure hunts online.
2. Dance party
Dancing can be a great way to get the heart pumping while having fun, and research shows that dancing can be good for the brain as well as the body. Pop on some tunes and get wiggling, or teach your youngster some old school moves. Host a disco sleepover, ditching traditional movies and junk food for some boogie-tastic fun.
No day isn’t improved by a game of this party favourite; limbo. Put on some music, grab a pole or a broomstick and see who can shimmy the best!
4. Fly a kite
You don’t have to buy a kite to fly a kite; homemade kites can be put together using a few objects from around the house. Once made, kites provide a great opportunity to get outdoors in your backyard or a nearby park.
5. Paper plane competition
Whether it’s your classic three-fold plane or you try to do something fancier, weekends and holidays are a great time to grab some used paper and get folding. Have a competition to see whose plane flies the farthest or can stay in the air the longest.
6. Ultimate hopscotch
While regular hopscotch is a fun game for young children, as kids grow up you can get creative to make the game more challenging. Add in a ‘hop in a circle’ or ‘hop backwards’ square, add a level of spelling or maths challenge, or make certain squares mystery squares, with different activities allocated to whoever lands on them.
7. Obstacle course
Ordinary yards can be turned into fun and challenging obstacle courses with a little imagination. Is there a crack in the drive that competitors have to tip toe along, a maze of tables to crawl under or a stretch of grass to cross without getting splashed by the hose? You could even time everyone doing the course to see who does it the fastest.
8. Get to know the local area
Explore a neighbourhood, park or natural space in your area that you haven’t been to before or revisit an old favourite. Queensland is ripe with natural spaces waiting to be explored, visit the Department of National Parks website for ideas on where to go near you.
9. Off-season skills training
If your child is enrolled in a sport or activity during term time, find out if there’s any skill or strength they’d like to improve before they go back. It might be throwing more accurately, working on flexibility or being able to do a certain number of push-ups. Whatever the goal, set aside some time every day to practice and congratulate your child at the end of the off-season on the progress they’ve made.
10. Put on a talent show
Encourage your children to create a talent show demonstrating their best physical skills – anything from juggling to attempting a cartwheel. Let them rehearse for the week, then sit back to enjoy the show.
11. Go for an art walk
Put a twist on a regular walk by adding creativity. Have your child take a camera, a sketch pad or a notebook and get them to take photos, draw pictures or write stories about the things they see on their journey.
Skipping rope is a great aerobic activity, and can be done alone, in pairs or groups. The Heart Foundation’s Jump Rope for Heart website has instructions for different skipping tricks suitable for skippers of all ages.
13. Make nature masks
Combining physical activity and creativity, nature masks are a fun way to enjoy nature together as a family. Go for a walk around your backyard, neighbourhood or a local park and collect flowers, leaves and grasses along the way. When you get home, everyone can get creative and decorate their own mask with the things that were collected on your walk. When the masks are dry, why not make up a story or play so everyone can wear their mask.
14. Walk or ride to the library
Public libraries often host special activities on weekends and during the school holidays. If you’re close enough, walk or ride your bikes instead of driving to use up any extra energy.
15. Ball games
Playing hide-and-seek can test problem-solving skills, as well as agility, coordination and stamina. Plus, the thrill of hiding and having to stay still and quiet makes hide-and-seek a top-rating game in terms of fun.
17. Hula hooping
If you have an old hula hoop handy, set the challenge for you kids to learn one new hooping trick every day. It’ll get them moving, work out their core muscles and keep them focused, at least for a little while!
Handball is popular in schoolyards around the country. To play this game at home, all you need for is a tennis ball and some flat ground. If you don’t have four players, handball can be played with two, or even single player against a wall.
19. 21 up
You can use a balloon, a ball or even a small, soft pillow for this game. Stand all players in a circle and have one person throw the ball up in the air. Players keep the ball from hitting the ground by bouncing it back up with their hands, counting each time they hit it, aiming to reach 21 without the ball touching the ground.
20. Head to the park
It might sound a little obvious, but make sure not to neglect your local park. Pack a picnic lunch and prepare for some playground time, throwing a flying disc or kicking a ball.
21. Old fashioned fair races
From egg and spoon races to wheelbarrow races, sack races and the infamous three-legged race, there are a lot fun ways to get kids moving from point A to point B. These work best for larger groups, but can also be played with just two sets of pairs.
22. Pillow fight
This one needs no explanation: make sure you have soft, non-allergenic pillows (feather and dust-free preferred!) and a hazard-free room, then let the battle begin!