When you’re staying at home, getting enough exercise can be challenging. But you can help your child become more active and stay safe with a little imagination.
- Indoor and Outdoor Scavenger Hunts. First, create a list of things to find. Outdoors, for instance, you can look for a flat rock, five blades of grass and two different types of leaves. Or you can have kids find and record the inspirational pictures and sidewalk drawings some people are doing to show unity during the pandemic . (See Facebook/Rainbows over Nassau and Suffolk Counties and Beyond).
Indoor quests can include finding a toy with wheels, a book with “Big” in the title and a yellow stuffed animal. Then set a time limit, say two minutes and see what your kids can discover. “That way they are running around the house while playing the game,” says Steven Frierman, an associate professor of specialized programs in education at Hofstra University, who added that scavenger hunts can segue into another old favorite, Hide and Seek.
- Go Into Nature. Visit local parks and hiking trails, or go for a walk around your neighborhood. Many parks allow you to bring your dog along. Stay at least six feet from other people while outside and wear a mask (See Dog-friendly Parks and Preserves.)
Frierman suggests using license plates to learn math while outdoors. To do this, give every letter a number value (A=1, B=2, etc.) and see who can find the license with the highest total by the end of the expedition.
- Family Workouts. You can find almost every activity online. Be creative, Frierman advises. “You can do yoga, Zumba, whatever,” he says. “You’re in the house and staring at the TV anyway, but at least now you’re doing exercises.” (See Exercise Videos for Kids slideshow.)
Do an exercise challenge by having your child pick an exercise for you to do and then you select one for them—and this can continue for several rounds. Or put exercise assignments on pieces of paper and choose suggestions one by one.
- Make Games Active. With a little creativity, you can even break a sweat with board games. Say you’re playing Monopoly and someone lands on Park Place—besides paying rent that individual needs to do five jumping jacks. “Going to jail could mean that you have to run up and down the steps,” suggests Frierman.
- Old-Fashioned Games. Any Brooklynites out there who remember playing Stoop Ball? Revive that game at home. The idea is to throw a ball at the steps and collect points. For instance, if you catch it on a fly, you get 10 points. (See Stoop Ball Rules.)
Sidewalk chalk is also a way to stay active. Put the chalk box on the far side of the yard and every time you need to exchange colors, you must sprint back to the box. Helpful link: See How to draw incredible sidewalk masterpieces.)
And once the stay-at-home restrictions are eased, consider activities and more structured programs that allow children to keep moving, including programs like Hofstra’s Summer Camps.