Often it’s easy to give children a bad reputation for being unhealthy and they (and their parents) are often scrutinized for spending too long on tablets, consoles or in front of the television. Children do, however, love activities that are healthy! Here are some great ideas for activities that children will love.
Healthy fun and games – physical activities
Being physically active is really important for children’s health and it helps regulate their emotional health too. Here are a few physical activities for children of all ages to enjoy.
A simple game that you can play with a few children and a soft ball. The aim of the game is to eliminate players by hitting them with the ball below their shoulders. Players are eliminated from the game if the other team catches the ball that they throw, if they are hit by the ball below the shoulders, if they hit another player with the ball above the shoulders or if they cross the centre line.
For this game, you need at least six children in two equal teams. The team members stand opposite each other and form a chain. One team starts by saying “Red Rover Red Rover send “player’s name” over.” The player then has to try and break the chain of the opposing team. If they are successful, he may capture either of the two players whose chain broke and bring them to his team. If he is unsuccessful, he has to join the opposing team. The game is over when all players are on one team.
For hopscotch, you need chalk and a different marker for each person. This can be a stone, a bottle top or a button, for example. Using the chalk you need to draw a hopscotch pattern on the floor (you can find an image to copy on the Internet).
The first player throws his/her marker into square number one. He/she then hops over this square onto square two, all the way to the end and back again. He/she stops in square two, picks up his/her marker, hops in square one and then ends the turn. The game continues by throwing the marker into square two, then square three, etc. getting more difficult the further away the squares are.
Players must hop on one foot unless the grid has number squares side by side, in which case, players can land on two feet, one in each.
A player is out of the game if their marker doesn’t land in the right square, if he/she steps on a line, if he/she loses balance when picking up the marker or if he/she puts more than one foot down in a square. He/she is also out if he/she doesn’t hop over a square that contains a marker. When each player finishes their turn, they place their marker in the square they will start on for their next turn.
Healthy food-based activities
These activities are all to do with experimenting with food. Often, children need to be involved with food and understand more about food for them to be willing to try new things.
Experiment with celery
Place a stalk of celery into a clear container like an empty bottle or jar. Fill the container to about three-quarters full with coloured water. Make this will a drop or two of food colouring. Leave the container and celery for a few days and see what happens. The celery will drink the water! You can also try this with different plants for example, with a white flower. Afterwards, you can carefully cut the celery or the plant’s stem and see what it looks like inside. You can link this activity to the human body and our need for water. You can go further with this and explain about artificial colours in drinks and foods.
Experiment with a salty potato
For this experiment, you need to cut one potato in two. Using two small dishes, place salt and water in one and just water in the other. Label them so that you know which is which. Place each potato piece face down into each dish and observe what happens over the next 30 minutes. The potato in the salty water will shrivel because the salt draws water out of the potato. You can discuss how salt affects the human body.
Fun with different coloured foods – traffic light fruit kebabs
For this activity, you’ll need red fruits like raspberries, strawberries or plums, orange fruit like oranges, melon or papaya, and green fruit like grapes, kiwi or apple. You will also need wooden skewers or toothpicks.
Firstly, cut the fruit into chunks that will be easy to place on a skewer then let children create their own traffic light fruit stick.
You can discuss how it is best to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that are different colours and why.