Activities help kids, adults get outside and moving.
Lawn games have been a part of social life since 5200 B.C., when Egyptians played a form of bocce with polished rocks, according to the international bocce organization Collegium Cosmicum Ad Buxeas. And nobility through the years has played croquet and badminton on lush lawns. These activities require only moderate exertion, but they hone social skills and coordination in children and adults. More importantly, lawn games get kids outside and standing up so they can burn more calories, said Cheryl Richardson, senior program manager for physical education at the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. Here are some ideas for lawn games for all ages.
There are a lot of benefits to this low-impact racket game, Richardson said. “Grandparents can even join in the play, plus the less skilled you are at the sport, the more active you will be,” she said. Prices range from $14.99 for an introductory set for young kids by Little Tykes to $60 for a deluxe set. They’re available at discount, big-box, toy and sports stores.
Bean bag toss, Fundex’s Ultimate Toss Across (tic-tac-toe in the backyard) and Ringers, where you throw rubber rings on a slanted board, are fun ways to get kids ages 8 and older moving, said Adrienne Appell, spokeswoman for the Toy Industry Association. Richards said tossing games increase coordination because you have to step forward with the opposite foot. They cost about $60, and there are a variety of games that can be purchased at sports and toy stores.
Slip ‘n slide
Kids ages 5 to 12 can get a running start then slide on their stomachs along this plastic mat that has been soaked with the aid of a garden hose. Richardson said all water sports are good activities, and this one involves running. Prices range from about $12 to $70 for the Bounce ‘n Slide version. They are available at sports, big-box and toy stores.
Frisbee golf is played much like traditional golf, but with a flying disc or Frisbee instead of a ball and club. Richardson said even small kids and those with special needs can play disc golf with success, making it a good lifetime fitness sport. A professional-quality disc costs less than $15 from a sporting goods store, and it only takes one for basic play.
You can work up a sweat playing this game, especially if you play it in the sand, Richardson said. “If there are only two people playing, you will really work hard,” she added. Prices vary, from about $25 to more than $80, and kits can be purchased at sports, big-box and toy stores.
Classic outdoor activities
There are many other simple outdoor activities that have kept kids entertained and active for years.
Jumping rope Whether you’re doing double Dutch, playing a jump rope game or going solo, this simple, inexpensive activity is good for muscles and bones, Cheryl Richardson of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education said.
Hopscotch All you need is a piece of sidewalk chalk and you can draw up your own game that promotes eye-hand coordination and balance, Richardson said.
Blowing bubbles Kids of all ages, including preschoolers, love to blow and chase after bubbles. A small bottle of bubbles can cost as little as 25 cents. There also are fancy wands shaped like classic characters, said Adrienne Appell of the Toy Industry Association.
Kite flying A dying art, this is a good activity for parents and young children to do together. Running after a kite in the wind is a physical activity, and maneuvering it away from obstacles makes it a skill, too, Richardson said.
Hide-and-seek This classic game hones problem-solving skills – who is “it,” where do I hide — as well as organizational skills when deciding who is “it” first, Richardson said.