With snow days and colder temperatures, parents can find themselves cooped up indoors with kids who have lots of energy to spare. With ParticipACTION’s Active Healthy Kids Report Card recommending kids get at least an hour of daily physical activity, winter can be a challenging time to build in fitness for children. When it’s snowing and cold, there’s no need to default to TV and electronics. There are ways to keep kids busy and having fun, while using their energy and being active. The main thing is to be spontaneous and suggest activities that involve movement and minimize screen time.
Kids don’t like a lot of rules, and they like to have control over an activity. They love to do anything if it’s set to music. Ask them to choreograph a dance routine to their favorite music, get them to build their own indoor obstacle course or set up winter Olympic games in the backyard. Anything that gets kids moving and having fun is perfect.
Although it can seem like there’s nothing to do, there are lots of possibilities in the house and outdoors to get kids off the couch and away from their screens.
Here are some ideas to get started:
Fitness treasure hunt. Hide clues around the house to create an indoor treasure hunt with the prize being a fun family activity - like crafts or baking - at the end. Have kids move differently between each clue: hop, crawl, jump, slow-motion run, etc. An example of a clue could be: “You’ve got brains in your head and shoes on your feet. Hop through the house to where it leads to the street” (the front door).
Nama-stay inside. Consider picking up some yoga books for kids. Yoga books contain stories written so kids can act out the poses. Or encourage kids to spell words like ‘Yoga’ or ‘Snow’ using body poses.
Host an indoor dance party. Put on some favorite tunes, and start a dance party. Encourage children to make up their own dance routine and teach it to their siblings or friends, or just go crazy dancing to the beat!
Deck of cards. Get kids to draw a card and do an activity corresponding to the number and suit on the card. For example, the eight of hearts means eight jumping jacks, while the seven of spades means seven sit-ups.
Build a snow family. Building a snowman is a longstanding and healthy tradition. Triple the task and suggest kids build a snow family. Give them props like sunglasses, hats, scarves and costume jewelry to make it even more fun.
Play snowball tag. Instead of a snowball fight, try applying the rules of tag. One kid is ‘It’ while the others have to run to stay clear of the snowballs. Once you’ve been hit, you’re ‘It.’
Backyard graffiti. Fill some squirt bottles with water and food coloring, and turn the kids loose to paint the snow however they choose.
Get kids involved in creating a list of fun things to do on bad weather days. Have them create a poster on Bristol board and post it somewhere visible. Consider taking photos of the kids in action and sticking the photos to the poster. Decorate around the photos to create a fun collage of their snow day activities.
It’s really important to make fitness easy and enjoyable so kids begin to understand being active is great for their health and a really fun way to spend time together. The best part is, being active doesn’t require a lot of equipment; kids just have to get up and move.
Kelsey is a fitness coach with the GoodLife4Kids School Program in Calgary. The GoodLife4Kids School Program partners with local teachers to teach fitness skills in Grade 4 classes at no cost to schools. For more details, visit goodlifekids.com/school-program/resources-overview.
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