Children ages 8 to 18 spend on average 7.5 hours a day engaged in entertainment media, watching TV and playing video games, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Stop the unhealthy madness! Summer is the perfect time to help kids learn healthy habits and embrace an active lifestyle with these fun ideas:
#1: Organize a neighborhood scavenger hunt
Who can forget how much fun playing capture the flag was as a child? A neighborhood scavenger hunt is just as thrilling— especially if you let your kids stay up past their bedtime! Partner with your neighbors to create a fun scavenger hunt that takes your kids on a whirlwind adventure around the neighborhood. Create a treasure map and write clues on the reverse side of the map. As children discover new clues, they’ll slowly piece together the map that leads them to their treasure.
#2: Make your own natural summer refreshments
Sugar-filled juices and sodas are a major trigger for childhood obesity and cavities. This summer, treat your kids to the deliciousness of freshly squeezed juice. Squeeze your own watermelon, lemonade or orange juice for a refreshing summer drink free from artificial sugars and additives. Sip on these natural beverages through mason jars with your kids while playing Kool Smiles dental bingo or doing a wordfind on the backyard patio.
#3: Camp out in the backyard
Not up for a full-blown camping excursion? No problem. Stage your own mini camping trip in the backyard. Pitch a tent, roll out the sleeping bags, barbeque with the family, stay up late playing card games, and tell ghost stories with a flashlight. Backyard camping is just as fun as a real camping trip— and everyone will appreciate the easy access to hot showers and running water.
#4: Watch the sunrise
Wake the kids early for a pre-dawn hike to an elevated spot in your neighborhood or local park. Watch the sunrise and salute the day with a yoga pose. Basic yoga postures, including the sun salutation, are easy for kids to learn and practice. Bring along healthy snacks like fresh fruit, granola and Greek yogurt for a post-yoga picnic breakfast.
#5: Host an inaugural family Olympics
The next summer Olympics may be three years away, but that’s no reason for not hosting your own family Olympic games. To beat the summer heat, plan fun and silly aquatic activities, such as garden hose limbo or a water balloon fight. Give out medals for "lowest limbo" or "last water balloon standing."
#6: Plant a family garden
You don’t need a huge backyard to grow a garden. Even a small space on a fire escape or apartment balcony can be transformed into a mini-vegetable garden. Plant summer squash, eggplants and peppers for delicious vegetable dishes all summer-long. If you want to plant tomatoes, be sure to choose a location that will receive at least six to eight hours of full sunlight. Use stakes or trellises to support the tomato vines.
#7: Explore your neighborhood on two wheels
Leave the car at home for a day and bike to local shops, parks and playgrounds. If it’s too far to bike to the park or store, take the kids for a bike tour of your neighborhood. Remember, both children and adults should always wear a helmet.