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 work-from-home with school-at-home. You might be struggling with curriculum choices, wondering which program will keep your child engaged and learning. You might also be wondering how you’re going to help your child burn off that crazy kid energy so they can use their brains!
That is exactly why we have put together this list of the best gifts for active kids (hint – ALL kids should be active kids!)
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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, development of motor skills and confidence. But 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?
In an article written by Deborah Farmer Kris, Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki says “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 an 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 a 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!
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.
Frisbee is one of our favorite backyard games. We use a Chuckit brand frisbee, which is meant for dogs. Its super soft and easy to catch. As a bonus, our dog can join in!
A game for all ages – cornhole! Make your own game boards & bean bags as a shop / sewing project, order a one-of-a-kind set, or buy a portable set that you can take with you to the park or on your next camping trip.
Ladder ball is equally fun & transportable!
Gifts for Active Kids: Strength and Agility Games
Or get creative and give your kids the tools to make their own obstacle course. Hula hoops, safety cones, tunnel, 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
With many recreational & school sports on hold, keep skills up with at-home versions of the big game. 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 a driveway or empty parking lot? Scooter or skate! Need help picking a bike? We have guides for that.
Hooping, Hopping and Jumping
One of the super safest trampoline on the market, the Springfree will provide hours (and years) of bouncing fun and is the perfect gift for an active kid.
Climbing, Sliding and Teeter-Tottering
DIY a rock wall for your little climber. Indoors or out, this will surely entertain. Good fun (and exercise) for the whole family.
Creative ideas for Outdoor Play
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 for Outdoor 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!
If you have snow, build a sledding hill or a mini nordic track in your yard!
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.
Snow forts, shoveling, and snowballs
Make shoveling the driveway part of your at-home P.E. class. The ManPlow Sprout kid snow plow is a great tool for the job! Extra credit for community service if the kids shovel the neighbors drive as well!
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 schooling day, make outdoor time & physical activity a priority. Squeeze it in between zoom meet-ups, virtual lessons, or homeschool lessons. 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!
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