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Games for the Great Outdoors

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.

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.

Posted at 13:37

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