We’re halfway through summer now, and you know what that means: a constant chorus of “I’m sooooo bored!” from the kids. (Yeah… those same kids who couldn’t wait for summer vacation to start.)
Luckily, there are lots of ways to keep kids entertained during those long summer days without simply letting them play video games for hours. These are three of my favorite activities, because they help make your kids healthier while they’re having fun.
Create Obstacle Courses
What’s more primal than moving your body in fun ways? Obstacle courses are a great way to get kids to jump, bend, twist, and jiggle, and you can easily tailor your activities to your child’s age.
For instance, if you have an eight- or nine-year-old, your obstacle course can include:
· Walking across a balance beam on the floor.
· Crawling under a table.
· Pulling a wagon on a curvy path.
· Throwing beanbags into a box.
· Hopping across a chalk hopscotch outline.
· “Bunny hopping” ten times.
· Doing ten overhead presses or bicep curls with very light weights.
· Jumping over “hurdles” made of pool noodles.
· Walking backward.
· Leaping up to touch balloons hanging from the ceiling.
If you have a young child who’s just mastering the ABCs and counting, plan simple activities (like dancing for one minute or jumping over a rope on the ground) and work in some painless education. For instance, lay out cardboard squares with different letters or numbers and tell your child, “Walk to the end of the yard stepping only on squares with the letter A” or “Jump on every square with the number 5.”
If you build an outdoor obstacle course, add some water obstacles: for instance, have kids wade through a wading pool or run through a sprinkler. Also, add activities like tossing a football through a hula hoop or climbing through a hula hoop hung from a low tree branch.
You can get several kids to compete with each other or join in the game yourself. For a one-player game, give your child a timer so he or she can compete against the clock.
2. Cook together.
Just about any child past the toddler stage can help out in the kitchen (especially if you define help out loosely—as in, have fun and make a mess!)This is a great way to introduce your child to real foods and teach math and reading skills at the same time.
Lots of real-food recipes are kid-friendly. For instance, older kids can handle pretty much every step of my chocolate chip cookie recipe with a little supervision—and younger kids can help measure and stir. Or if your kids are craving a cool summer treat, have them help you make these watermelon popsicles.
As you’re having fun together, talk about why real foods are better for them than junk food. Also, have them practice academic skills. For instance, ask them to read the recipes out loud, or talk about fractions as they use measuring cups and spoons.
If your kids are old enough, have them participate at least once a week in planning and cooking an entire dinner. It’ll get them more invested in eating well, and you’ll be amazed at how fast kids pick up shopping and cooking skills!
3. Start an outdoor or indoor garden.
One of the best gifts we can give our primal kids is to teach them to grow their own food. Summer is a great time to start planning your fall garden with your kids if you’re in a hot climate, or to actually plant tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and other heat-tolerant plants if you’re in a cool zone.
If it’s too hot to plant in your area, go through seed catalogs with your kids and decide what you want to grow in the fall. Mark out your garden space together, and have your kids make drawings of where they’d like each plant to go. Start a compost heap with them, and let them see how the summer sun turns it into fabulous fertilizer.
You can always start an herb garden in your window, too. Have your kids select the herbs, plant them, water them, harvest them, and then use them in recipes.
Want more tips?
I hope you and your kids enjoy these fun primal activities. If you want still more ideas, check out these sites:
Paleo Kids Zone has a fun design for a pool noodle obstacle course, along with other terrific ideas for encouraging your kids to get up and move.
The Paleo Parents site is dishing up real-food recipes you can make with kids.
The Primal Den Mother has dozens of ideas for gardening activities you can enjoy with little ones.
Keep Thinking Big & Living Bold!