Running, jumping, leaping – these activities of summer occur in yards across the country when temperatures heat up. Yet, the pull of more sedentary activities robs our kids of the joy and benefits of running wildly through the grass. Physical activity and sports link to improved academic performance, cognitive performance and brain health.
Summer brings the perfect time for parents to promote activity and boost creativity. Let’s find engaging ways to get our kids in the game with summer forts. Whether heart-pumping action or a moderate pace sets the scene, a Fort Magic kit inspires health and development. Simple backyard games of soccer, football or whiffle ball entertain kids of all ages. Nothing better than sport exists to get kids moving. Use the pieces of the Fort Magic kit to construct a soccer goal, end zone or backstop. Deer netting or sheets complete the project. A dugout or shelter fort to house each team adds authenticity. Then, gather the family or neighborhood for a lively competition.
Engage even greater creativity while constructing an obstacle course. Think up obstacles created out of sticks, arcs, and connectors. A tunnel of arc pieces to crawl through, hurdles to jump over or a section of slalom-like poles strengthen muscles, build basic brain function and provide laughter and memories.
For watery activity, always a kid favorite, spray water with the garden hose over a section of the course for heat relief and giggles galore. Periodic, unpredictable buckets of water dumped over the course by an adult build anticipation. Or, make part of the course a slip-and-slide feature with fort tunnels or huts constructed over the slide. High and low features add difficulty and fun.
How about an indoor pool for evading the heat miser and encouraging play? A castle, cottage, or fort of your imagination built over a kiddie pool provides the luxury of the rich and famous without going to your local hotel. The fort protects sensitive skin (sunscreen still recommended), inspires minds and activates bodies.
Add colorful balls to the water in a fast-paced collecting race. A fishing net or tiny hands work to gather as many balls as possible. Buckets of varying sizes entertain the younger crowd with the act of pouring. For older kids, a race from the pool to an outside bucket to see who fills their receptacle the fastest remains a favorite. Bubbles, lots of bubbles, added to the pool make the search for dive sticks and rings a bit of a challenge and a whole lot of fun. Beware of the snow monster, likely to emerge from the fort even in the heat of summer!
Need more fun pool ideas for older kids? Combine Fort Magic pieces with pool noodles to float your creations. A cabana or Tiki hut provides swimmers with a base in a game of pool tag or Marco Polo. Crafting a floating basketball hoop outside the fort provides friendly, cooled-off competition while heating up summer memories. And, a floating rectangle acts as a net for beach or balloon volleyball in the pool.
Another summer favorite is the sandbox. A fort makes for a private game adventure when built over this childhood staple. Sand castle contests or treasure digs for objects hidden in the sand get kids’ imaginations moving. A maze drawn in the sand with two race cars at the start make for lively competition as players race to the finish. Hours melt away as kids engage in sand games (and learning – shhh!).
And creating a line of fort tepees or tents can house tribes to plan strategies before the games begin. Look up traditional Native American games to encourage your children to learn about a culture. Native American games develop skills of agility, strength and stamina, particularly for boys. But, boys and girls alike join the action today. Ask children to identify the skills being learned as you play Running games, plus skill and chance games of the Native Americans, delight children of all cultures.
Playing is the work of children. Backyard evidence proves that kids love their work. Getting in the game reaps more than benefits for growing bodies, and goes beyond simple fun. Exercise and physical activity boost creativity. In fact, the effects of exercise may last up to two hours post-activity. And, brain health improves as well. Summer tends to be a time when brains turn off and regress before the start of a new school year. Engaging children in activities that draw their interest and their energy levels may just combat this situation to keep their minds and bodies more active.
These facts prove that summer forts and games do the body and mind good! And, the evidence suggests these facts apply to adults as well as to children. So, all excuses aside, grab your Fort Magic kit, your kids and an idea from this page or one of your own. It is time to get in the game with summer forts!
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Hands On As We Grow Blog: A wonderful family blog that focuses on hands-on activities for parents and children to incorporate during learning and playtime.
Fort Magic Customer Photos via Facebook: Visit our Fort Magic Facebook page to see our customer creativity shine with fun pics and videos of families enjoying their Fort Magic kit during playtime.