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Keep kids busy with old-school outdoor fun

By The Health News Team | July 19, 2022
Children playing jump rope

School is out and summer break is here! Now is the perfect time to turn to your favorite old-school summer pastimes to keep the kids happy and healthy throughout the year’s most fun season.

Think back to your childhood, when summers weren’t filled with endless practices, lessons and camps — what did you do to fill those sunny days? Here are a few reminders.

3 old-school summer activities to entertain the kids

Play hopscotch.
All you need is chalk, a small rock and some pavement. You're ready to play this game, which can help develop coordination, balance and cognition while being fun and offering a bit of fitness. Here’s a recap of how to play:

  1. Draw the numbered play area featuring connected, stacked boxes numbered 1 through 10. Boxes 1, 4, 7 and 10 each stand alone, while 2 and 3; 5 and 6; and 8 and 9 are placed as side-by-side pairs.

  2. The first player tosses the rock to the #1 spot. If they miss or the rock rolls out of the box, they lose their turn and the next player gets to try.

  3. If the rock lands in the box, the player hops over the #1 spot with the rock in it and then hops through all the other spots until they reach the end. Only one foot can land in each box, so they’ll be hopping on one foot for some and on two for others.

  4. The player then turns around and heads back to the beginning, collecting their rock on the return.

  5. On their next turn, the player tosses the rock into the next numbered box and keeps going until they reach #10. A player loses their turn if they miss the numbered box they were aiming for, the rock rolls out of the box, they hop out of order, two feet land in one box, they hop into the box with their rock in it, or they fall.

  6. The first to get to #10 wins.

Have a jump rope jamboree.
From long ropes to short ropes, there’s a lot of jumping your kids can do. Grab the neighborhood kids to — as House of Pain raps, “jump around, jump around, jump up, jump up and get down!”

  1. Using single ropes, see who can jump the most times without stopping.

  2. Sharing one rope, try to jump with a partner as you face each other.

  3. With a friend on each end, use a long jump rope — change speeds, sing a song, try a spin or see who can jump the longest.

  4. Have friends swing two long ropes at once — double-dutch style.

  5. When you get tired of jumping, turn your rope into a limbo line and see how low you can go.

Create a scavenger hunt.
One of the best ways to get outdoors and keep moving is to take a family walk through the neighborhood. But are your kids scoffing at the idea of turning off their screens and venturing outside? Get creative: invite them to join you on a fun neighborhood scavenger hunt. Use a smartphone or digital device to photograph each item. You can even call it the day’s art project.

Here are some things to hunt for — if they find them all, a DIY smoothie or frozen banana is a super summer treat:

  1. An antique car

  2. An American flag

  3. A skateboard, scooter or bike left outside

  4. A funny bumper sticker

  5. A porch swing

  6. A dog on a leash

  7. A red truck

  8. Something with wings

  9. A fat cat

  10. A yellow or blue house

  11. A fire hydrant

  12. Pink flowers

  13. A trampoline

  14. A kid on a bike

  15. A basketball net

  16. A personalized license plate

  17. A pet in a window

  18. A motorcycle

  19. A squirrel, snake, lizard or snail

  20. A holiday decoration (extra points if it’s not in-season)

And while you may not have always been careful about protecting your skin from UV damage when you were a kid, it’s essential that you help your kids apply water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before heading outdoors. Reapply regularly and add a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing, too.

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