Summer is just around the corner and that means soon school will be out, raising the question of how to keep energetic kids and grandkids active and healthy throughout the summer. It seems that these days even the most beautiful, sunny day can face competition from screens, and those 'summer treats' that kids ask for are often filled with a lot of sugar (like cotton candy and freezies!) It can be tough to balance things out, so we put together a few quick ideas to help make sure the kids in your life are staying as healthy as possible while having as much fun as possible this summer!
Video games can be full of action, but we all know that moving around (especially outside) is not only lots of fun but also essential for physical and mental well-being at every age. What’s great is that most traditional kids' games involve a lot of physical activity. And yes, it may be a bit difficult to get things going, but there’s a reason that these games have been around for decades—once kids get into them, they’re really fun! You probably remember all of these, but here’s a refresher on a few classic games for various numbers of kids.
One kid or more: Hopscotch
Using some sidewalk chalk, draw a hopscotch grid and number the squares from one to nine. Find a rock that is good for tossing (big enough to see easily and not bounce around too much, but easy for little hands to manage), or you can use a beanbag. Start by tossing the rock onto Square 1. Hop over the rock and hop with a single foot or both feet all the way to the end of the grid. Turn around and come back, stopping on Square 2. Balancing on one foot, pick up the rock in Square 1 and hop over Square 1 to the start. Continue this pattern with Square 2, and so on. If you toss your rock but miss the correct square, your turn ends. This game can be played solo or with any number of people, but only one person can go at a time.
Equipment: Hopscotch grid (chalk), rock or beanbag.
A few kids: Red Light, Green Light
This game can easily be played inside if you have space, so it's a good one for rainy days. One person is the “traffic light” at one end of the room or yard, and the other players stand at the other end. When the traffic light faces the group, he or she says, “Red light!” and everyone must freeze. Then the traffic light turns his or her back and says, “Green light!". The group tries to get as close to the traffic light as possible, but the traffic light turns around quickly, saying, “Red light!” again. If anyone is spotted moving, they have to go back to the starting place. The first person to tag the traffic light wins the game and becomes the next traffic light.
Lots of kids: Capture the Flag
This game is most fun when played with a really large group. First, split everyone into two teams. Each team has a flag or other marker (even a shirt will do) at the team’s base. The object of the game is to run into the other team’s territory, capture their flag, and make it safely back to your own territory. If you tag an “enemy” player in your territory, that sends them to your jail—they can get out of jail if a member of their own team runs into your territory, tags them, and runs back with them. One freed person allowed per jail break.
Equipment: Two flags or other markers.
Is it just us, or is candy getting more and more… neon coloured. Kids like colours, which makes those hot pink and electric blue sugar bombs seem extra enticing, but you know it’s not good stuff making those goodies glow. You know what else is really colourful, though? Fruit. The palette may be more subdued, but there are a lot of fun ways to bring a variety of fresh fruits together to create fun and beautiful rainbow-y snacks—and lots of ways for kids to participate in the creation.
Your best bet for these edible crafts is blueberries, grapes, and not overly ripe strawberries—though we’d still recommend smocks or clothes that can get a bit juicy when it comes time to wear them. All you need is some fine elastic cord (available at most craft stores) and a darning needle (also available at most craft stores). You simply help your little ones thread the fruit onto the cord until you have enough to create a loop that will fit over their heads. Fun, fashionable, and nutritious! If you’d prefer something a bit more straightforward and less potentially stain-making, you could do Rainbow Fruit-kabobs with the kids instead—same principle, except you use a skewer instead of an elastic cord, and don't try to wear it. You can also use more varieties of fruit (=more colours!), as you don’t have to worry about how they will interact with a t-shirt.
Watermelon Popsicle Sticks
Watermelon has to be one of the coolest looking fruits. A simple trick to making watermelon even more exciting is to cut it into thick wedges, with the rind left on at the bottom of your triangles. Then, make a small cut in the middle of the rind (the outside green part), and insert a popsicle stick! For some reason, food is so much more fun when it's on sticks… This principle can be applied to frozen bananas, too—peel a banana, cut it in half, put a popsicle stick in the cut end of both halves, put them in a freezer bag and freeze overnight. Banana Pops!
If you’re being hassled for 7-11 Slurpies, give these fruit slushies a try instead. The recipe below is for Strawberry, but you can use any frozen fruit, or even a mix of fruits.
4 cups frozen strawberries
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
1-2 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice (or to taste)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of Salt
Put it all in a blender. Blend. Add more or less almond milk to make it more spoon-able, or more slurp-able.