Now the world is green, gold, and blue, and summer is stretched before us! Shouldn’t we take advantage of our longer, warmer days to rack up as many fun points as we can?
To inspire active play in your little rangers when the simple trip to the park doesn’t seem to be sparking high levels of enthusiasm, try some of the following games for groups of children, or one-on-one play.
Active Play With Groups of Kids
Ducks, Cows, Cats, & Dogs
With the seated children scattered across a room or grassy field, whisper the name of one of the animals in each player’s ear. Next, ask the children to get on their hands and knees and close their eyes. When you say “go”, the children begin crawling with their eyes still closed making the sound of their animal and trying to find the other cows, cats, ducks or dogs making the same noises. When all the animal groups have found one another, ask the children to count the number of “animals” in their group.
Kids love timed races, and the opportunity to beat their own best times! All you need is some turf and a stop watch to track the fun. Keep everyone interested in running multiple races by divving kids up into teams and allowing them to pass a stick or plastic pipe like professional racers pass the baton. You can also build up summer time math skills by asking kids to list and chart their own times, and do simple subtraction to figure out how much faster their fastest time truly was!
Objects are scattered across a grassy field. In pairs, one person verbally guides his/her partner, a blindfolded person, through the minefield, collecting some of the small items (apples or balls) to earn points while avoiding the obstacle mine items. If a teammate guides a child into a mine item, the team loses points. At the end, the team with the fastest time and the most points wins. You can use clothing, placemats, or even baseball bases as your mines as long as you’ve got plenty to spread across the field!
Frisbee Map Quest
Let each child take a turn throwing your Frisbee. Once the Frisbee is thrown everyone races to where it lands, and another child throws, and so on. When you’ve crossed an entire park or block, then gather at the last Frisbee down point, count to 10, and on 10 the kids have to try to race back to the starting point of the first throw, faithfully following the invisible route that led them there. Give out icy cold water prizes to the child who ran the fastest, the child who followed the route most faithfully, the child who played with the most positive attitude, etc. then play another round!
Active Play One-on-One
In & Out
Place a plastic hoop on the ground, then dare your child to jump in and out of the hoop again and again, making a circuit of the entire hoop all the way around. They should be pretty dizzy when they do this several times in a row, so make sure that your hoop is on a soft surface like grass that will safely cushion a tumble. You can vary the pace of this game, or extend it, by playing music to hop in & out in rhythm with, or by turning the music on & off throughout the hopping, with the added instruction of “freezing” each time the music stops.
Teach your child to gallop – with or without a broomstick horse! Next set out a simple riding track with a balance beam, low jump, obstacles to weave around, etc., as well as a finish line. Let your child prance and trot their way through the course — alone or with a friend — pretending to be a horse all the while.
Race Across the States
If you want to engage your child in a daily running activity, make it more fun by challenging them to race across the United States. First determine your daily distance (whether its 3 laps around your yard or a half mile along the canal depends on your child’s age and fitness) then explain to your child that completing this daily distance equals racing across a state. Each time they run across a state, show them the corresponding state on a map or puzzle, and reward them with three simple “trophies” that represent special items from that state. For example, when they run across Arizona they might receive a postcard of the grand canyon, a rock from the petrified forest, and story about the Native Americans who built Montezuma’s Castle. Or you can let them mark each state off on a map printed from the internet.
Gather some ribbons or scarves in the colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet – and tie them at various points all throughout your yard. Next invite your child to come out and race to see how fast he or she can tag the colors of the rainbow in succession. Help them learn the order, and send them back to beginning to start again if they skip a color! Next try to tag a rainbow in reverse!