Games for the Great Outdoors

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There are two problems. One, kids are not
spending enough time outside. 37 percent of 10- to 12-year-olds
spend less than 30 minutes a day outside playing. That’s according
to a 2009 International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition
and Physical Activity study
. The second problem is that kids
are not getting enough exercise in their daily lives. A Canadian
research team found that less than 10 percent of kids meet the recommended
60 minutes of physical activity a day
.

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The
research
is clear. When kids get out and play, they are more
likely to do better in school, they are less likely to have health
problems, and their stress levels fall. In other words, outdoor
play helps kids in mind, body, and spirit.

Summer is right around the corner, and there is no better time
to combat these two problems. Take your kids outside for some fun
in the sun. To help get you going, here are three easy games to
play with minimal set-up or equipment required.

  1. GOOOAAALL! Soccer is a game a lot of kids
    can play without a lot of equipment, just a ball and some goal
    markers. Now, put a fun twist on the sport to make it more
    challenging and more fun. Play crab soccer by making everyone crawl
    on their hands and feet with their backs to the ground. Or, play
    with three teams and take away a point from the team whose goal was
    scored on. Have a large crowd? Play human foosball. Mark straight
    lines on the field where only certain players can go up and down,
    but not leave.
  2. Capture the flag.  Part tag, part
    hide-and-go seek, capture the flag is a classic game that’s great
    if you’re in an outdoor area with lots of trees or playground
    equipment. Split the play area in half, and then split into two
    teams and give each team a flag to hide in their half. Team members
    can tag opponents looking for their flag or sneak to the other
    team’s side and look for their flag to bring back and win the game.
    When people are tagged out, let them do some physical activity
    (like 10 sit-ups) before going back to their side and getting back
    in the game.
  3. Cool down. Games involving water can make
    a big splash with kids–just make sure you give parents a heads-up.
    An easy way to introduce water into play time is to have relay
    races involving transporting a certain amount of water from one
    bucket to another with small cups. Have older kids? Up the
    challenge by making them spin and get dizzy before running with the
    full cup of water, or have them stand in a line and pass the cup
    over their heads and under their legs to the person behind them.
    You could even poke some holes in the cups so that they have to
    hurry before it all leaks out.

After you let your kids burn off all their pent-up energy
playing, why not stay outside for a lesson? What better setting to
teach kids about God than surrounded by his creation! Outside is a
great place to learn about Creation and why we should take care
of it
. This summer, get some fresh air and introduce your kids
to the great outdoors.

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About Author

David Jennings

David has served kids around the world for the majority of his life. From Texas to Romania, he has followed where God has led him. Most recently, he served for six years as a children's director in the great state of Alabama before moving to Colorado to work for Group as an associate editor.

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