Make Family Time Active Time

Summer provides an opportunity for families to spend time together that will create fun and memories. School is out and it’s a great time to plan some family time, says Sandra McKinnon, a family life program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“Activities, such as going to the park or a day hike, are great ways your family can bond and be physically active at the same time,” McKinnon said.

The ISU Extension specialist suggests planning family adventures two to three times a month that involve these types of activities. Planning these activities ahead of time gives the entire family something to look forward to. Not all activities have to be grand to be beneficial.

“Playing with your children for 30 minutes a day allows you to participate in your daily activity and bond with your children while watching them learn and grow. You also could plan an hour family walk or bike ride after dinner two times a week. By planning a set time to be physically active, you will be more likely to stick to it, especially if it allows your family to be together. Get the kids involved, and make a list of all the activities they would like to try,” McKinnon said.

McKinnon offers the following ideas to help families plan for active time.

  • Visit zoos and museums that have free or reduced rates for kids on special days.
  • Have paper airplane or paper boat races or try making and flying your own kites. (Look for books at the library with kite-making instructions.)
  • Plant a small garden or container garden and watch it grow.
  • Have sack, peanut or egg races.
  • Plan a picnic.
  • Go swimming at the local lake, pond or pool. (Ask for a one-day guest pass at a local YMCA to check out the facilities.)
  • Visit vacation Bible schools, kids camps or day camps
  • Go camping in the backyard.
  • Make your own bubble solution and have fun blowing bubbles.
  • Plan a trip to local or county places of interest.
  • Participate in free summer reading programs and story times offered by many local libraries.

“With a little planning, you can have a fun and family-involved summer,” McKinnon said.

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