Family Fun

Six ways that you can make exercise fun for kids

1. Create Running Challenges

My children have always loved to play at the local playgrounds and that is a really wonderful way to get exercise, but I like to maximize this exercise outing by requiring that we walk/run a one-mile lap around the park before they get to play. 

When my son starts to whine about how “walking is boring”, I start to give him challenges to keep him preoccupied while we get in our mile lap.  Some of his favorite challenges are:

The Mario challenge – Basically, he pretends to be Mario. He jumps over ditches, pretends to ride Yoshi, and runs like Mario while singing the Mario theme. 

Subway Surfer challenge – This is one of Ben’s favorite games on his kindle. Basically, it is a little boy running down train tracks and jumping over obstacles, while a police officer chases him. So to play this challenge, Ben runs and jumps while Emma and Sadie (our dog) chases him. He loves it!

Gold coin challenge – This challenge takes a little planning.  I basically give Ben mini-challenges to do in order to earn imaginary gold coins (Yes, he has a great imagination) Sometimes the challenge will be to run to the next tree, run backwards, hop like a bunny, run in zigzags, etc. Once he completes the task, he gets an imaginary coin thrown to him, which he promptly puts into his pocket:)

Beat Emma challenge – This is a pretty, simple challenge, basically I will tell Ben to race Emma to random trees or benches to see who wins.  (Emma usually lets Ben win)

2. Issue Playground Challenges

Since we homeschool, a lot of the times we will be the only people at the park, which is not a lot of fun for a kid. One way we get around this is by giving Ben certain things to do like:

Superhero challenges – I will tell Ben to be the Flash and see how fast he can run around the playground area or act like Spider-Man and see how fast he can get from one end of the playground equipment to the other (like climbing up ladders, sliding down each slide, and going thru all the tunnels, etc.) He loves to do this!!

Parkour challenges – I think all kids are into Parkour lately.  Ben especially loves it, so when we are at the park he climbs up slides and jumps over tunnels in attempts to get a thumbs up approval rating from me.

3. Have pretend Superhero battles 

One way we exercise at home is to have pretend superhero battles.  When we play this, I pretend to have a controller, which makes Ben do certain actions.  For example, if he is Black Widow he does a lot of spins, leaps, and martial art actions. If he is Thor, then he will use his hammer and fist to fight off villains.

4. Play “Mother May I?” and “Simon Says”…Extreme-style

Sometimes Ben will say he is bored during the afternoon, so we will play Mother May I? and Simon Says.  The trick to making these count as exercise is to give action-packed tasks to do.  Ben loves to do the Running Man (basically running in place), jumping jacks, kangaroo hops (giant leaps), army crawls, and anything else I can think of at the time.

5. Have a Dance Party

My kids really like to dance and this is the easiest way to get them to exercise most days.  I simply tell them to dance for five fast songs and away they go.  This is our all-time favorite way to get exercise because it is so fun that you forget you are even exercising.

6. Make-up Interactive Chuck E. Cheese Games

This is a game that Ben made up but loves to play occasionally.  Basically we recreate games that he loves to play at Chuck E. Cheese by making them into live-action versions.  For example, he loves Fruit Ninja so he has me throw soft rubber balls at him while he blocks them with his hands and feet using martial art skills…it is hilarious!

We also like to play the Duck Punch game.  Ben runs back and forth in the living room, while quacking and tries to avoid being hit with balls…again…hilarious.

Another fun game we like to recreate is the Basketball Toss game.  To play this game, we place balls throughout the living room and then put a big box in the center of the room.  To win, Ben has to run around and try to get all of the balls into the box before the time runs out.

I hope these ideas give you some fun ways to keep your children active inside and out.  Exercise can always be fun with the right mindset!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Family Fun · Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest-Chinese New Year Edition

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We love learning about other countries’ cultural traditions and celebrations, so this year we decided to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  Luckily, the library had lots of cute books on the subject and as always, Pinterest had lots of fun ideas to celebrate the holiday.

These are the books we enjoyed the most:

PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year

PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year by Virginia Loh-Hagan

Ben and Emma both enjoyed this book a lot. This is a cute story about how a little girl’s grandmother comes all the way from China to introduce her grandchildren to Chinese New Year traditions. (Did I mention that the grandmother is also really superstitious?) We especially liked the little asides that give you more information as to why they believe certain things are lucky and which things to avoid that bring bad luck.

Lanterns and Firecrackers: A Chinese New Year Story (Festival Time)

Lanterns and Firecrackers by Jonny Zucker

This was a nice book if you are looking for a simple explanation as to how to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It was a quick and easy way to show Ben how Chinese families celebrate the holiday.

Great Race

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey

This is a definite must read.  It tells the story as to how the Chinese determined which animals would get a year named after them by holding a race.  Ben and Emma really loved this book, due to the beautiful pictures and the great writing.  If your children like fables, they will love this book.

Seven Magic Brothers (Chinese Edition)

Seven Magic Brothers by Kuang-Tsai Hao

This book was not about the Chinese New Year, but is a beloved Chinese story.  It is about seven identical brothers that each have a different magical talent (ex: being fireproof, possessing super hearing, ability to swallow anything, etc).  When one of the brothers is condemned to death, each brother steps in to save the next, by using their amazing talents. This was a really fun read!

Tikki Tikki Tembo

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosul

This book is also not about the Chinese New Year but is a Chinese fable.  We actually own this book because my kids love this story so much! This book tells the story as to why Chinese people choose to name their children short names.  (The main character in this book has an absurdly long name that eventually gets him into trouble)  Both the writing and the pictures are beautiful throughout this story.

Interesting facts about the Chinese New Year

1. Its important to sweep out the dirt in your house before the New Year starts to “sweep out the bad luck”. **But only throw the dirt out the back door!

2. Clean your windows to allow good fortune to flow in

3. Open your windows and doors at midnight to allow the old year to leave

4. Only serve whole chickens (to keep the family together) and whole fish (to have a good beginning and a good end)

5. Leave noodles unbroken to ensure a long life

6. The first person you meet on New Years and the first words you hear are important for how the year to come will be

7. Wear red clothes to scare away the bad spirits

8. Children should wear new clothes to confuse the evil spirits

9. Avoid the number 4, because it sounds like the Chinese character for death, so it is considered bad luck

10. Throw firecracker snaps on your front door to scare off evil spirits

11. Eat oranges to guarantee happiness and wealth for the year to come

**My kids were highly entertained by these traditions:)

After we learned all about the Chinese New Year, I headed over to Pinterest to find a few cute crafts that we could do together.

I settled on making these cute dragon flame blowers and these banners. **Images from Pinterest**

Dragon Toilet Paper Tube Kids recycled Craft - perfect for Chinese New Years, imaginative knight and princess play - easy to turn into a puppet!The Stuff We Do ~ For the Chinese New Year, we made good luck symbols. ~ Sherry

Another fun tradition is to give children money in red envelopes to ensure good luck for the coming year, so I made a couple of these cute envelopes to give to my children.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with these DIY Lucky Red Envelopes. We have a printable template to make it easy!

We ate ramen noodles for lunch (unbroken to guarantee a long life) and cutie oranges (to ensure happiness and wealth)

Before we went to bed we snapped a few firecracker poppers on the front doorstep to scare away the evil spirits.  We also remembered to put the red envelopes beneath the children’s pillows to ward off evil dreams.

Happy Chinese New Year!

 

Family Fun

Family Game Night

I have always loved playing games and ever since my children were born, I have been impatiently waiting for them to get old enough to play games.  While my littlest is not old enough for a lot of games, we have found certain games that we all enjoy playing.

mustache game

One game that we found this past Christmas is called Moustache Smash. (My six year old especially loves it)  I thought it sounded cheesy but it is surprisingly fun.  Basically everyone has a different plastic mustache on a stick that has a little suction cup on the end.  When a card is played with either the color or shape of your moustache, then you can “smash it” before someone else hits it.  There are also Moustache Pass cards that randomly appear which force you to trade your moustache to the next person, so you have to remember which moustache you have before the next card is played.  If you hit a card that is not your color or shape you have to put two of your own cards in the pile and the person to hit the next card played wins the whole pile.  The game ends when there are no new cards to play and the person with the most cards is the winner.

Reasons we love this game:

  • It is fun for so many age levels.  Some games are either boring for the adult or the child, but not this one. We have had players from 6 to 66 years old and they have all loved it. We all giggle and heckle each other the entire game.
  • It is really fast paced.  Some games drag on and on, but we usually play this game at least four times a night, if not more!
  • The moustache sticks are very durable.  This is a good thing because you really have to slap the cards hard to get them before someone else does.
  • Contains six very different moustaches.  Its nice to have a good variety to choose from and each mustache is really different, so everyone usually has a favorite one they pick each game.  Also, while waiting for the next card to be played, you have to keep the moustache on your face, so of course it makes the person opposite of you laugh to see you wearing these outlandish moustaches:)

mustache and kids

If you are looking for a new family game to play that is fun for all ages, definitely try out Moustache Smash! You will not regret it:)