by Don Zabloski
Summer is finally here, bringing unlimited options for outdoor activity “play time” with the family. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some outside-the-box ideas:
Be a tourist in your own community by visiting new locations in your neighbourhood or across town. Travel on foot or by public transportation, which requires more walking than taking the family vehicle. Discover public parks, visit a zoo or explore other outdoor attractions.
Try something new.
Find a swimming pool, supervised beach or splash pad you’ve never visited before. Bike on a scenic trail, go berry-picking, raft down a river or take a lesson in a new sport. Search online for instructions about orienteering or geo-caching. Try hiking, fishing, golfing, canoeing or kayaking.
Walk to an open green space to play a few classic tag games. If Mom and Dad can’t remember the exact rules, make up your own! These active, inclusive games naturally involve many basic literacy skills such as walking, running, skipping, galloping, changing directions, balancing, core strength, stopping and starting. You don’t need a new game every day, but a variety of games will keep interest high without too much repetition. Adapt games appropriately to ensure inclusive play. For example, choose softer, colourful balls; use shorter, lighter striking implements; roll a ball instead of throwing it; strike a ball with a hockey stick rather than kicking it; increase the number of trials or chances; or reposition the target in a smaller playing area.
Some games are meant to be played in larger numbers. Your family can invite others to enjoy well-known games like follow the leader, crab soccer, red light/green light, hopscotch, Simon Says, hide and seek, kick the can and balloon badminton. Ask relatives and grandparents to think back to their own active childhood days of playing outside with friends. Everyone was active and the games were timeless, going on for hours until the sun went down.
Don Zabloski is a retired Physical Education and Health Consultant and the co-author ofRunning Room’s Book on Family Fitness with John Stanton.