Epic Gifts for Active Kids
Whatever your child’s school year looks like, there will be big changes ahead for you and your children. You might be attempting to juggle both work and school from home. You might be struggling with curriculum choices, wondering which program will keep your child engaged and learning, or strategizing how to accomplish weekly homework. Most of us are raising the question, “How do we help these children burn off their busy energy so they can use their brains well?!”
This common question is exactly why we have put together this list of the best educational gifts for active kids (hint – ALL kids should be active kids!), as well as the following guide for gifts that promote a lot of movement!
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Why Gifts for Active Kids?
We can all agree that there are tremendous benefits to physical activity. We know it’s vital for a good night of sleep, the development of motor skills and building confidence. Did you know that exercise can also improve brain activity and help a child concentrate when it comes time to sit down for school work/homework?
In the article, “How Movement and Exercise Help Kids Learn,” Deborah Farmer Kris discusses the research of Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki:
“Exercise strengthens both the prefrontal cortex (which is involved in executive functioning) and the hippocampus (which plays a key role in memory and learning). In this way, exercise supports our ability to think creatively, make decisions, focus and retrieve key information. In her research, Suzuki found a single workout can improve a student’s ability to focus on a task for up to two hours.”
Equally important in childhood development is outdoor play. In a research article by Gabriela Bento and Gisela Dias they write, “families should participate as much as possible in outdoor play….as a natural and compelling activity, play promotes cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being, offering the necessary conditions for children to thrive and learn.”
Our kids NEED to be Active
Let’s find way to make physical activity and outdoor play a priority in our day. Sometimes, having the right tools/toys can help, which is why we promote specific gifts for active kids. If you have a yard, spend some time turning it into an inspiring place to play and be active. Set up a free play area with sticks, logs, and river rocks. Or haul in a big pile of dirt for digging, getting muddy, or building bike jumps.
Install some gear hooks to make finding (and putting away) toys like jump ropes, hula hoops and badminton rackets easy. Kids are more likely to play with what they can see. Those toys tucked away in that bin won’t be used as often, and gifts for active kids should be played with.
Here are some ideas to get you started for outdoor play.
Gifts for Active Kids: Traditional Yard Games
Trac Ball is a game straight out of the ’80s. My parents actually kept their original set, and 30 some years later, my kids like it just as much I do! Try this one out with the family in the backyard, at the park, or on the beach.
Another game that is great for eye-hand coordination is Badminton. And, since the birdies don’t fly far, it can be a great game for smaller yards. Want a racket set with a few different options? Try the Outside Inside racket set.
Frisbee is one of our favorite backyard games. We use a Chuckit brand frisbee, which is meant for dogs. It’s super soft and easy for smaller hands to catch. As a bonus, our dog can join in! If you have tweens or older kids a standard ultimate frisbee is the way to go.
Ladder ball is equally fun & transportable! This one is great for all ages as well, and to make it more of a physical challenge send the kids to chase for loose balls.
Our latest family hit is this awesome rechargeable laser tag set. This unique and dynamic laser tag set is good for younger kids all the way through adults. There are many game possibilities with this brand and they are compatible with any other sets from the same brand. Convince your friends to get a set for an ultimate battle!
Gifts for Active Kids: Strength and Agility Games
A slackline is also fun and promotes balance and strength. Use an overhead guide line for additional support. Set up a slackline in your yard, at the park, and bring along on camping trips.
Get creative and give your kids the tools to make their own obstacle course. Hula hoops, safety cones, tunnels, DIY pool noodle & pvc pipe hurdles combined with inflatable stepping pads will provide hours of physical activity and creative construction!
Gifts for Active Kids: Balls, Wheels and Jumps
A portable soccer goal is a great investment. Take it to the local park, or use it in the front yard for drills.
A basketball hoop in the driveway is also a great way to encourage active play.
Bike, Skate or Scoot
Have an active kid that loves to ride, skate or scoot? You don’t have to go far if you have space in your backyard for some ramps! Take these micro kickboards to a paved trail, down the sidewalk, or a nearby park. Several of our TMM families have loved the mini kickboards for young toddlers all the way to adult models for the parents!
Have a driveway or empty parking lot? Scooter or skate! Need help picking a bike? We have guides for that too.
Hooping, Hopping and Jumping
Hula hooping is an excellent abdominal workout! Bring out a speaker, play some tunes and get hooping! We love the spinsterz hoops if you’re looking for a high quality hoop.
One of the super safest trampoline on the market, the Springfree trampoline provides hours (and years) of bouncing fun and is the perfect gift for an active kid, or for the one you want to encourage to become more active. Amelia’s family uses theirs all year long, even in the snow.
Climbing, Playing, & Teeter-Tottering
DIY a rock wall for your little climber. Indoors or out, this will surely entertain and burn some good energy. Good fun and exercise for the whole family. These climbing holds are great quality made for kids hands!
These fun stepping stones and logs encourage creative play while working on coordination and stability. These are great for inside during poor weather and outside on a beautiful day.
Creative Ideas for Outdoor Play
Even without a yard, there are plenty of active games your family can play using the most simple of tools, sidewalk chalk! Chalk transforms a driveway, sidewalk, or cul-de-sac into an active play space: hopscotch, a scooter or bike track, tic-tac-toe, or an imaginative canvas!
Mud & Dirt
A mud kitchen will inspire hours of outdoor play. Buy one, make your own, or just provide the dishes and see what your creative kids come up with! To go along with your mud kitchen, a nice fresh pile of dirt will keep them busy.
Balance and imaginative play
Even in suspect weather, kids are drawn to water. Set up your yard for hours of self-directed play with a shallow stream, a pump system, or a simple water table. The options for water play are endless! DIY or buy some ready-made options.
Even a rectangular rubbermaid bin can be filled with water providing free-play without a ton of investment. Sand play will compliment your water play area. Or can provide stand alone creative fun.
Winter Toys and Snowy Backyard Play
Bundle up and go outside in all kinds of weather. It might be cold out, but with the right gear, you can make it happen!
Cross-country skiing promotes balance & builds endurance. Set your own track in a nearby park, or see if your local golf course transitions to a nordic center! Check out our blogpost for nordic skiing tips. Building a mini nordic track is also great exercise of its own!
Snow Forts and Snowballs
For those huge piles of snow, try your hand at making a snow cave or building a snow fort! This handy brick maker will help.
Snowballs are the quintessential winter toy. But, if you have super dry snow, you’ll need some assistance to make a decent snowball. This tool is indispensable. Also makes for speedy stockpiling for snowball fights.
Gifts for Active Kids: Final Thoughts
As you plan your day, make outdoor time & physical activity a priority. Squeeze it in after school and in between meetings. Take a brain break by running an obstacle course. Sit outside and watch your kids play while you take that call for work.
Take your laptop to the park so your kids can play soccer or run laps at the track while you meet deadlines. Time spent outdoors can be a great stress reliever for all, and exercise helps our bodies and our minds! Don’t underestimate the gift of time you give to your family. Cheers!
Epic Gifts for Active Kids
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