The best way to stave off boredom and keep kids from acting out, is to get a few daily doses of physical activity. From jump rope to scavenger hunts, there are lots of fun ways to get outside and get active during this period of social distancing. We’ve also included some ideas for indoor fun. We hope you enjoy them and share your own ideas in the comments!
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20+ Ways to Keep Kids Active
- Scavenger Hunts are fantastic for keeping kids engaged in the great outdoors. Make your own or try one of these fun scavenger hunts on Pinterest!
- Nature Walks offer teachable moments and encourage kids to stay outside longer. Some themes to consider are as follows:
- Look for signs of the season, then draw them in a sketch book.
- Engage your senses.. draw or record what you see, smell, hear, feel, and taste (if you’ve brought a snack). Charcoal pencils are perfect for rough sketches and shading.
- Collect leaves for leaf art or leaf rubbings.
- Find objects from nature of different shapes and colors and make a nature mandala. For inspiration, check out the work of artist Andy Goldsworthy.
- Locate good branches for a fort, then build one (dismantle it when you leave if you’re in a public space; large logs could hurt kids when they fall down). Before you go: read a Scouts book about shelter building and grab some lengths of rope/twine.
- Birding with a birding app. We have been using Merlin Bird ID (free app) from Cornell University for years and love how user-friendly it is. Check out our story on Birding with Merlin Bird ID here.
- Pokémon GO is fun for kids of all ages. Can you catch ’em all? Here in Calgary, University Research Park has the highest concentration of PokéStops in one area that I’ve ever seen! You can work out at the outdoor fitness stations as your kids catch pokémon. Download the free app here.
- Take a soccer ball / frisbee to the park for some low tech fun. Working on hand to eye coordination is always beneficial! For evening fun, try this glow in the dark soccer ball with LED lights that lights up when kicked! For younger kids, an Aerobie Ring is easier to throw and catch.
- Slacklining is fun for the whole family. All you need is your Barefoot Slacklines kit and two sturdy trees. For your safety, don’t set the slackline up too high and always supervise your kids (there is a risk of falls as well as risk of entanglement with the training line).
- Since indoor play parks are closed, make your own adventure / obstacle course in your backyard. Boxes, pool noodles, and hula hoops are a good start. For a pre-made course to build agility and strength, try this Ninjaline.
- Cycle or roller blade to your favorite park or playground. Here are 10 Fun Family Bike Rides in Calgary to try. Don’t forget your helmets!
- Treasure Hunt: hide prizes or candies around the yard. If you have time, you can prepare clues, riddles, or math questions to find the next item (tip: Use Easter egg hunt riddles).
- Geocaching is the ultimate treasure hunt! Search for hidden caches with your cell phone; some have “treasures” to trade, while others are so tiny (micro caches), you find them simply for the joy of the hunt. Learn more and get the app at geocaching.com/play.
- Orienteering involves navigating to checkpoints with a map and compass. Learn the basics with the Orienteering: Skills – Techniques – Training book. When social distancing is no longer required, you can participate in local orienteering events. Orienteering Canada and SOGO Adventure Running (Calgary) are good resources.
- Hiking or snowshoeing are great ways to be active in the outdoors. Try these Snowshoe Trails Near Calgary or Best Winter Hikes Near Calgary. Note that park visitor centres are closed, so you should check trail reports and avalanche reports before you leave the house. It is advised that you stick to nontechnical pursuits not too far off the beaten path to reduce the chance of injury or need for rescue. We do not need to increase pressure on the already overburdened EMS and healthcare system. UPDATE: The national parks are closed and Alberta Parks is also requesting you DO NOT VISIT at this time. Please stay home or enjoy your local parks. Canmore and Kananaskis have declared a state of emergency.
- Skipping is an affordable, high intensity activity you can benefit from in just a few minutes a day. Take your jump rope to the driveway (or park) and skip to your favorite tunes. Younger kids will enjoy these jump rope activities from Today’s Parent.
- Snow play is an easy way to get some fresh air and break up your day. For some fun snow play ideas, read Snow Fun for Everyone (no special gear required).
- Hopscotch and chalk art are always fun! Leave some encouraging messages on your sidewalk for others to enjoy. Buy Crayola sidewalk chalk online.
- Dance Party: turn on your favorite tunes and have a dance off in the living room. Craziest / worst / funniest dance moves win! Or play Freeze Dance or Musical Chairs (need a DJ to stop the music randomly – no peeking)! Just Dance and GoNoodle have fun videos for kids on Youtube too.
- Bounce your way to fitness! A rebounder or mini inflatable bouncy house make exercising inside fun! We’ve had our bouncy house for years and pull it out during cold spells and birthday parties; love it!
- Treasure Hunt: hide prizes or candies around the house. If you have time, you can prepare clues (riddles or math problems) to find the next item. Tip: Search for Easter egg hunt riddles.
- Balloon volleyball: see how long you can keep a balloon off the ground!
- Hula Hoop: have a hula hoop competition and see who can hula the longest.. when that gets too easy, try to spin the hoop around your arms or legs.
- Yoga is fun with Cosmic Kids Yoga. Follow Jamie and do yoga moves paired to your favorite movies like Star Wars and Frozen. She also has Zen Dens (mindfulness activities for kids) that are great before naptime or when you want the kids to settle down.
Stay calm and coffee on! We’ll get through this! Got any more fun ways to keep kids active? Please share them in the comments below.