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8 Ways to get kids outside and active


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When's the last time your child asked, "Can I go outside and play?" Most likely the question was "Can I play on the computer? iPad? cell phone?"

Technology often winds up being a distracting time-taker and can lead children to become addicted to games, texting, and other less-than-ideal activities. But there's something else technology is robbing children of and it is an essential part of their childhood: movement. That's right, physical movement. Reports vary, but at the very least, studies show kids spend more than 50 hours a week indoors engaged in using electronics. That's 50 hours of sedentary time where there's little to no movement on the part of the child.

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Experts agree, movement is critical for everyone's health but especially for a child's growth and well-being. Studies show that learning doesn't just take place in the brain. Carla Hannaford, author of Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head, found that within the mind/body equation, movement of the body "optimizes brain growth, and provides important information to reasoning processes, and a healthy immune system." The key is to create a balance for kids where tech and physical activity get equal time.

Here are eight ideas to encourage your children and their friends to enjoy the great outdoors where they can play, move, and build their brains!

1. Give them their space. That's right, set up, or better yet have them set up, a tent or shade structure that allows kids to have their own outdoor space...Fill their area with board games, decks of cards, craft supplies, and coloring pages...anything that doesn't include electronics. Make sure healthy snacks and drinks are part of the fun and see how a tent can quickly become an imagination station. If you happen to have a JumpSport Trampoline try our Big Top Tents!

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2. Tell your kids to "take a hike." A hike that includes the whole family, that is. You don't have to travel far distances to get a good hike in. Even your local city park provides trails that allow kids and families time together outdoors. Set the example and show your children how fun and interesting it is to collect bugs, leaves, and rocks. Back at home, help them identify their findings online, creating the perfect mix of outdoor activity and tech.

3. Chalk it up to outdoor fun! Give kids chalk and some game ideas like Tic Tac Toe, Hopscotch, and Four Square to get them moving, playing, and developing their social interaction and creativity skills. With chalk, draw a target on the driveway or pavement assigning point values to each ring. Have kids toss rice-filled balloons or bean bags onto the target. Helpful hint: Soak the chalk in water before using to give colors a more vibrant and lasting effect on the driveway or pavement. Have a trampoline? Try our Trampoline Game and Party Pak! It comes with chalk, bungees, balls and a game book to help kids come up with their own games!

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4. Scavenger hunts. Give each child a bag and a list of 20 specific nature items such as "2 acorns," "a red leaf," and "one 12-inch twig" and send them into the backyard. The more detailed the list, the more challenging the hunt. Or, have older kids create a scavenger hunt for younger children and extend the hunt beyond your backyard to neighbors' yards (with supervision, of course!).

5. Have a ball! Providing kids with a red, bouncy, school yard ball helps jumpstart game upon game. Four Square, Dodgeball, Color-ball, Wonder-ball, Kickball, and more fill hours of fun for kids of all ages. We also recommend our hoppy balls for hours of bouncing enjoyment!

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6. Scientifically speaking. Another way to balance tech with learning and the great outdoors is to find simple science projects online and then set the kids up outside to explore the world of science. Spills won't damage household goods and kids get to be messy and learn simultaneously. Check out www.sciencekids.co.nz for easy ways to create volcanos, quick sand, and floating eggs... they'll amaze and engage your children.

7. Story telling balloons. Blow up a large balloon and write 10 - 12 various descriptive words on it with a permanent marker. The words should be age-appropriate for your kids since they will be asked to use them. Give the balloon to your children and tell them to take it outdoors for storytelling hour. You might want to get the game started but once you hand off the balloon, the kids will take it from there and you can leave the game in their hands. Sit in a circle and starting with one of the words on the balloon, use it in a sentence to begin a story. Toss the balloon to someone else after you get the story going. The next person to catch the balloon uses the word their left hand lands on when catching the balloon, to continue the story. The ballon gets tossed around the circle and the story gets more and more imaginative as it travels from person to person.

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8. Jump for joy! Outdoor fun wouldn't be complete without a backyard trampoline. Recognized as one of the healthiest activities for physical fitness, a backyard trampoline offers kids hours of fun and entertainment! Help free your kids from sitting around the house with a JumpSport safety trampoline and enclosure. Create an environment where they can enjoy the outdoors and a breath of fresh air, safely. There's no better piece of backyard equipment than a trampoline from JumpSport.