Play is an integral part of childhood, but in recent years play has started to slow down with active alternatives replaced with video games and online interaction. Active play is a great way to keep kids healthy and moving at any age, but a lot of parents don’t know where to start.
If you’re trying to figure out the best ways to incorporate active play into your child’s day, here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started.
What is Active Play?
Active play is defined as any form of physical activity done by children. It can happen inside or outside, with rules or without. The goal is to get kids up and moving, or for infants, encouraging them to roll over, sit up, or move around as much as they are able to. It will, of course, depend on the ability of each individual child.
Structured vs. Unstructured Play
What is the difference between structured and unstructured play?
Structured play can come in the form of classes, sports, or playgroups. It’s usually accompanied by rules and there’s a good chance that there is some form of friendly competition as well. Unstructured play, on the other hand, involves just letting kids be kids. Make sure their environment is safe and set them loose to explore and play on their own.
Both forms of play have their benefits and encourage children to learn and grow while keeping them healthy. Structured play helps kids learn the importance of following the rules and good sportsmanship, while unstructured play has been shown to help improve brain development throughout childhood.
While you can’t really guide unstructured play, there are plenty of things that you can do to encourage structured active play.
Dance It Out
Dance is a great form of exercise, even if there is no formal instruction involved. Put on some fast paced music and hold an impromptu dance party. You can even join in— the kids will get a kick out of seeing mom and dad rocking out to their favorite music.
To make it a little more competitive, have someone with their finger over the pause button — when the music stops you have to freeze, and anyone who moves has to do jumping jacks!
A visit to the playground almost always ensures that there will be some active play going on. The equipment is designed to get kids running, jumping, climbing, and having a ball.
For areas where an outdoor playground isn’t an option or the weather is keeping you indoors, soft play products can be a great alternative. These indoor playgrounds are perfect for small or large groups of kids, helping to keep them active while they’re indoors rather than plugged into the TV or the game console.
Secret Agent Kid
We’ve all seen secret agents in the movies sneaking around glowing red laser lines that will set off an alarm at the slightest touch. Why not turn that into a way to keep your kids active?
Make a web of yarn or string in a hallway if you’re indoors, or between some trees if you’re able to get outdoors. Set them up so they’re easy to move between, but not too easy. Once the maze is set up, set your kids loose! Let them know that they can’t touch the laser-strings! Add some treasures or a prize at the end for when they finish the maze, and then start it all over again!
This can be a great way to keep kids active, especially if you’ve got some kids who don’t want to spend too much time outdoors. Create a scavenger hunt that sends them out in the yard to hunt for the objects. Make it as easy or as hard as you like, depending on the kids who are involved, and send them out into the world to find leaves, sticks, rocks, bugs, or anything else that crosses your mind.
If you get a chance to sneak out while you’re setting this up, you could also hide little treasures out in the yard for the kids to find.
Make sure you have a healthy snack ready for your little scavenger hunters when they come back in with their treasures!
Keeping your kids moving is more important than you might think — studies have found that kids who are active throughout their childhood are more likely to lead active lifestyles into adulthood. The trick is to find ways to engage little minds that are used to the instant gratification of video games and television.
Find out what your kids are interested in and design your activities around those interests, or just send them out into the yard to see what they can find. Play is an essential part of childhood, the more active the better, so get out there and start playing!
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.