Which kid doesn’t love playing outside, interacting with others, getting physical, letting off a little steam and even getting their hands dirty?
The trouble is, our children aren’t spending nearly enough time getting active in the great outdoors and, according to the experts, this sedentary lifestyle is having a negative impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Consider this. The Australian Government’s Department of Health recommends that toddlers and pre-schoolers should be physically active for at least three hours every day and kids aged 5 – 12 years should have at least an hour of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day, yet recent research* found that West Australian kids are spending 22 hours a week staring at an electronic device. That’s almost an entire day of screen time every week!
Clearly, we need to get our kids moving.
The benefits of physical activity are well known – it helps control weight (and we’re all aware of the rising epidemic of childhood obesity), it builds muscle, promotes the strong development of bones, muscles and joints and plus there are other cognitive, social and emotional spin-offs too.
But how do we get our children into the great outdoors and encourage healthy habits?
A great way of luring them outside is to have a range of interesting and fun toys that will exercise their bodies, stimulate their brains and keep them occupied for hours. There are literally thousands of options when it comes to outdoor toys and different age groups will have their favourites, but as a starting point, here are 5 tried-and-tested outdoor toys that every kid loves:
Kids love getting dirty and a sandpit provides a safe environment for them to dig in, build structures, create shapes and socialise with others. It encourages outdoor play and exercise and stimulates their creative minds.
Water guns are an ideal toy for active outdoor summer fun. From small squirters to turbo blasters like the Air warriors Extreme Blastzooka, which was voted one of the best summer toys of 2016 and which can be connected to a garden hose, they provide kids with hours of energetic play. You can even get creative and arrange for a game of water gun painting. Simply set up canvases in the garden, get some water-based paints in different colours and let the kids cut loose and create artistic masterpieces!
There’s a reason why the Little Tikes trampoline is top of Amazon’s best seller list for toys and games. Kids love jumping on a trampoline – and whether it’s a tiny bouncy mat for toddlers or a 5 metre giant trampoline complete with basketball hoop, there’s a product to suit children of all ages. Trampolining is a great way for kids to expend energy and get a wide range of physical benefits at the same time. It improves their motor skills, co-ordination, balance and muscle control, enhances their aerial awareness and gives them better posture – plus they get hours of active fun without even realising they’re doing exercise!
Most kids have a fascination with trucks and cars, so a dump truck with an articulated bed will give them hours of fun as they create their own construction zone in the garden, the sandpit or the backyard. They can also use it to load and unload small toys, which is good for their gross and fine motor development – and you can encourage them to get involved in gardening activities by using it to ‘transport’ weeds, compost, seeds etc.
Climbing or swinging can be very beneficial in the development of strong muscles and bones in children, so a jungle gym is a smart choice when it comes to outdoor toys. They appeal to kids of all ages, who will spend many healthy hours swinging, climbing, balancing, sliding and interacting with one another.
There’s no doubt that outdoor toys and play equipment get kids moving and having fun at the same time, which is so critically important for their overall health and wellbeing. It really doesn’t matter what toys they play with as long as they turn off their screens and get active in the great outdoors.
And of course, if your lawn looks green, lush and enticing, your kids will be far more likely to venture out to play. But if it’s in need of a little TLC or if you want to rip it up and install top quality, weed-free roll-on lawn in Perth, then you should head for Greenacres Turf Group. They are WA’s premier supplier for residential lawn and commercial turf and by calling 08 9525 8822 or visiting www.greenacresturfgroup.com.au, you can have the healthiest, greenest lawn in the street in an instant – and EVERY kid in the neighbourhood will want to play on it!
* HBF Survey Perth Now 23 May 2016