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We know that sitting in front of a computer, laptop, tablet, video game or TV robs our children (and us!) of Playgroundtime that could be spent moving, playing or creating. It contributes to the obesity rate and encourages all of us to be “couch potatoes”.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages 8-18 now spend, on average, a whopping 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV. Over a year, that adds up to 114 full days watching a screen for fun.
Think about that – children are spending almost as much time in front of a screen as some of us spend during our work day. Wow! The 11-14 age group spends the most time in front of screens with their total reaching 9 hours per day! Five of these hours are spent watching television. Visit this website for a great infographic which shares information about each age group and their screen time averages. http://makinghealtheasier.org/getmoving

Get outside, have fun and move! How can we encourage our youth to become more active this summer?

• Limit total screen time to 1-2 hours per day.
• Involve your child in planning their day – ask them what activities they like to do and make some suggestions.
• Provide creative activities for your child to enjoy – think pens, paper, paint, modeling clay, or art and craft projects.
• Send the kids outside to play – try balls, bikes, skateboards, or sidewalk chalk.
• Resurrect some of the games you played as a kid – go outside with them and PLAY! Try soft ball, kick the can, tag, red rover, or hide-and-seek.
• Some areas offer free or low cost day camps – soccer, gymnastics, etc. – check out what is available in your area.

According to the Let’s Move website, spend time this summer encouraging your child to be active by exploring, riding, swimming or playing outside. Here are some ideas for each area:

Let’s Explore!
As a family explore parks in your area. You may find a new walking trail, play ground or nature preserve. Plan a walk around the block in your neighborhood in the evening. Be safe but encourage your child to explore their surroundings. Visit http://www.nwf.org/NatureFind.aspx to locate a new area to explore.
Let’s Ride!
Pump up those bike tires, grab your bike helmet and check those brakes. Enjoy a family bike ride either in your neighborhood or on a bike path. Many bike paths are available so explore a new one today. Find one of the many rails-to-trails for a smooth bike ride through nature.
Let’s Swim!
Find a safe spot to swim. Lifeguards save lives so select a pool or swimming area carefully. Remember to wear sun protection while in the sun.

Soccer
Let’s Play!
Look for a playground in your area. Perhaps you can plan a day to visit a play area near your home. Pack a picnic lunch and play! For play spaces near you, visit http://mapofplay.kaboom.org/playspaces/new

Remember to have fun this summer and encourage your family (kids and adults) to get outside and play! Get creative and reduce that screen time to one hour per day.

Sources: http://makinghealtheasier.org/getmoving
http://Healthyohioprogram.org
http://mapofplay.kaboom.org/playspaces/new
http://www.nwf.org/NatureFind.aspx
http://www.letsmove.gov

Author: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA rabe.9@osu.edu

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Playing GamesDo you remember any these games? Red Rover, Simon Says, Hop Scotch, Four Square, Kick- the- Can, Hide-and-Seek, Tether Ball or Tag? I recently asked my sister about the games we played as kids. She quickly fired off the names of these games for me. We have many fond memories of playing outside, especially in the summer, from the time we got up to dusk or dark.
We had a TV of course but our main source of entertainment was being outside and playing with the kids in the neighborhood and our siblings. We created games, enjoyed friendly competition, and learned about teamwork by playing together.

Being physically active helps us feel better, burns calories and can contribute to a sense of well being. Now is a great time to explore ways that you and your family can be more physically active.
Here are a few suggestions you can try:
• Take family walks in the evening after dinner.
• Play tag, hop scotch or kick-the-can with your kids or grandchildren.
• Dance to your favorite music.
• Plant a family garden.

Play a Game
• Limit screen time to two hours or less each day. This includes TV, computers, cell phones, and video games.
• Exercise while watching TV. Challenge family members to stretch and move during commercials or during the program.
• Stand for meetings. Instead of sitting during the entire meeting, stand up and burn a few extra calories.
• Schedule a walking meeting at work – you can walk, talk, plan and be productive while getting some physical activity.
• Take a fitness ball to work and sit on it for brief periods during the day.
• Stretch and move with a fit band during webinars or conference calls.
Run, Jump and Play

• Walk, run, swing, bike or play at your local park or bike trail.
• Visit a state or national park. Check out the National Park Service website for informative videos, information, and details about National Parks located near you. http://www.nps.gov
Be creative and explore ways to increase your physical activity. Think about games you may have played as a child, plant a garden, take a bike ride or walk to the park. Make physical activity fun and enjoy the spring weather!

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County/Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Sources:
Healthy Ohio Program http://www.healthyohioprogram.org/
National Park Service http://www.nps.gov

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SoImageme families enjoy doing winter activities outside together, such as skiing, ice skating, and snow sledding.

However, others don’t like the cold.  What’s a family to do besides play board games together?  You might try some of these ideas:

  • Make a scrapbook or a video scrapbook
  • Watch for birds
  • Cook a meal or make a snack
  • Play games or active video games
  • Work on a jigsaw puzzlemother and daughter cooking
  • Send mail to a soldier
  • Put on a play
  • Play balloon volleyball
  • Start a Blog
  • Research vacation spots
  • Read silently or take turns reading a book together

You may also want to plan some trips to museums.  If you live in Ohio there are quite a few museums that provide excellent learning activities and interesting family time together.  Examples include: COSI in Columbus, Air Force Museum in Dayton, Johnson Humrickhouse Museum in Coshocton, David Warther Carving Display near Sugar Creek, Imagination Station in Toledo and Warther Museum in New Philadelphia.  There are also lots of local museums which have excellent displays and provide activities for children and families.

During the winter some museums have special exhibits; such as, art museums may have art displays from famous artists.  The Columbus Art Museum has an excellent display of “Think Outside the Brick: The Creative Art of Lego” until January 27, 2013.   History Museums may have traveling displays from other countries.  If you have small children, you might try the children and youth museums as they allow children to touch.

To make the most of your visit involve your children in the planning of the trip.  Consider:

  •   Talking to them about what they will see.
  •   Finding out what excites them.
  •   Relating what’s being learned in school to the museum visit.
  •   Reviewing personal safety and behavior rules before you go.  Explain what acceptable behavior in the museum you will visit is.

During the Visit

  •   Be flexible and follow your children’s lead.
  •   Try to relate facts about the exhibit to what your children already know.
  •   Ask your children to tell you a story about an object in the exhibit that interests them.

Play museum games such as:

–       Postcard games – buy some postcards in the gift shop and see if you can find the pictured items.

–       “I spy”

–      Seek and Find

–       Tell me why or how?

After the visit, look for opportunities to continue learning.

  • Use the museum’s family guide with ideas
  • Suggest your children start a collection of their favorite objects.
  • Go online.  Many museums have interactive web sites.
  • Ask your children to share information about their experience with relatives or friends.

Museums can provide interesting activities and learning experiences for everyone. Costs can vary. Some of them like the Air Force Museum in Dayton are even free, except for the IMAX Theater.  What winter activity or adventure are you planning to try?

Reference:

Pulay, A. (1999) “Winter Family Activities” Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer:  Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

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