Last Updated: Nov. 1, 2014
The key is getting the kids out of the house. The Mayo Clinic reports that children ages 6 to 17 require at least one hour of moderate-intensity physical activity every day. And kids should engage in very vigorous physical activity three days each week.
It's easy to design backyard activities that can be played by people of all ages and all abilities, and those that can played and enjoyed by as few as two or three participants.
The anticipation is as exciting as the event. Think of your yard as a blank canvas with the only limitation being your combined family's creativity. Ask your children how they might want to create a hair-raising historical adventure or a dramatic trip to Hawaii using what you have on hand.
For instance, consider putting trampolines and tents to extra use by creating makeshift forts and frontier outposts.
Taking turns at croquet and badminton can turn summer into a series of competitions. Create a leaderboard and post the results.
Can a simple water slide and garden hose turn your backyard into an Amazon adventure? Absolutely!
Why not practice soccer, basketball and volleyball in your backyard arena? Invite your child's teammates or neighbor children to create a casual practice environment. Introduce players, announce the games and live drills and sell tickets to your family spectators. Have one child run a courtside concession stand with popcorn, hot dogs and drinks. Rotate assignments and other roles like referee, announcer and coach.
By encouraging practice of sports that are played during the school year, you'll be helping to build your child's skills and confidence in a less competitive setting. Yet even in a casual environment, you can create activities that burn calories, build endurance and muscle, improve balance and coordination, and even develop concentration and self-discipline.
"Mom, it's too hot!" Sound familiar? Time for water games. Freeze-Up is for that really hot day. Kids love it, and adults may try to wiggle their way into the action. Simply fill a wading pool with water and add ice cubes! Have each person try to remove the ice cubes with their feet. For a real challenge, have each person remove the ice cubes using only one foot. The person to remove the most cubes is the winner.
A lawn and a hose with a nozzle that will allow for a straight, steady stream of water is all you need. You can either play the game as a limbo game. Use the steady stream of water as the limbo stick. Kids must maneuver under the stream of water without getting soaked. The lower the stream is, the harder it is to go under it. Lower the level when every kid makes it under the previous stream.
Remember, off the couch and into the yard!