Don’t let the weather ruin your club’s recreational time. Play inside!
It’s that time of year in North Florida when we’re not sure what we’ll wake up to each morning. We may be in short sleeves, sweatshirts, or hip waders and that can make planning a club meeting tough. During this time of year, between the cold and the rain, it’s seldom that our youth are allowed to go outside for PE. And in lower grades, where a gym may not be available, they are often not getting any significant amount of physical activity during the school day. This is neither good for their mental or physical health, so how can we combat the winter-blues in our club meetings? Here are a few suggestions:
Indoor relay and tag games: If space permits, move the furniture out of the way, and let the kids play freeze tag or have a relay race. Relays are often easy to relate to the educational topic of your meeting. Examples include:
- Set the table relay: where youth draw a piece of a table setting out of a paper bag, run to a table across the room, and put it in its proper place on the table. (the floor can be used in place of a table if need be.) The first team to correctly set the table wins.
- Salsa relay: youth put plastic tomatoes or peppers or onions or garlic between their knees and “run/waddle” around a cone, chair, or tape mark, at the other end of the room back to their team where they pass on their piece of food to the next team mate. The first team to have each player complete the task wins.
- Traditional balloon and ring races are always good too.
Exercise bingo: Contact your local extension office for a copy of exercise bingo. In this high intensity game, each youth or team of youth, is given a bingo card and a stack of exercise cards which face down on the floor. A teammate flips an exercise card, and each team member completes the task on the card (arm circles, pushups, jumping jacks, etc.) If their bingo card includes this exercise, the team captain marks that spot off of their card. Teammates take turn flipping exercise cards until they have Bingo. The first team to get Bingo wins.
Simon Says, Duck-Duck-Goose, London Bridge: These games require only a little space, and are still fun for younger youth, especially Cloverbuds (4-7 yrs). Simon says can often relate to your educational program as well. Ex – “Simon says comb your steer.” “Simon says, stir the batter.” “Simon says bait your hook.”
Legos, board games, etc.: It’s not very active, we know, but sometimes space just doesn’t allow for much physical activity, but it’s still important for youth to have time to interact with each other and relax. Be sure not to pick board games that may take hours to complete. Things like Charades, Guestures, Win, Lose or Draw, etc. are great options.
Now it’s your turn. Get creative, and in the comments section below, share with us the ideas you have for indoor recreation!
Youth learn about the habitat and calm nature of the Gopher Tortoise at the 4-H Wildiife and Outdoor Recreation Camp
Many youth today are suffering from a serious, preventable disorder that is the result of early age experiences and if not properly diagnosed or treated, may cause severe mental health issues up through adulthood. This disorder I’m referring to is called Videophilia. Videophilia can be described as the love of any form of electronic media. This media may be internet, movies, video games, cell phones, or just plain TV. Many youth are so attached to their video devices that they hardly ever go outside to see what’s going on in the natural world. In Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods” he calls this condition “Nature-Deficit Disorder”.
According to the Center for Environmental Health, consistent contact with nature has many health benefits including helping to ease attention-deficit disorder, aiding in cognitive development, enhancing creativity, and reducing stress. With so much emphasis on our communities becoming more sustainable in how they utilize resources, many environmentalist fear that the loss of contact with nature will weaken Americans commitments to conservation and biodiversity. These concepts will have more impact to the future of our world if they are introduced to youth as they matriculate through grade school. The earlier we teach them how to enjoy the great outdoors the better!
What is nature you may ask?? Nature can be Yellowstone National Park, The Appalachia National Forest, or it could be a clump of trees at the back of a neighborhood or in someone’s yard. To the scientific eye the clump of trees might not look like much but to a child it could be a life changing experience. Every 4-H club agenda that is developed should include a nature walk or some other outdoor activity. Additionally, 4-H residential and day camps provide perfect opportunities for both youth and adults to explore the great outdoors together. Most electronic programs and activities only require hearing and seeing, however providing an outdoor experience for 4-H youth will provide opportunities to hear, smell, touch, see and sometimes taste. Nature Deficit Disorder may be a growing disorder, but lucky for us, with programs like 4-H and great volunteers, it is a disorder that can be easily cured!
Although we live in the Sunshine State, we still have to deal with a few days of cold weather. When it’s cold out, it can be hard for youth and their parents to get the 60 minutes of daily physical activity recommended by health officials. If families do venture out into the cold to exercise, it is crucial that family members dress appropriately to prevent too much heat loss. Here are a few tips to remember when exercising in cold weather. (more…)
As we roll from fall into winter, many of us begin pulling out the warm clothes and preparing for some time indoors. We have such beautiful weather along the gulf coast that most of us usually dread the end of summer. However, this time of year doesn’t have to be the end of all the fun! Many of our 4-H clubs have started projects in natural resources. They’re exploring the outdoors through hiking, biking, camping, bird watching, and GIS. This is the perfect time of the year to start off a club project in one of these areas. The weather is perfect and the changing seasons provide a wonderful educational opportunity for youth of all ages to see our native ecosystems. Youth can incorporate science, technology, math, art, and healthy lifestyles into one project. A few examples are listed below:
– Take your members on a hiking trip to a local state park! Members should be divided into groups of 3-5 and provided with a local wildlife guide and some type of device to take photos. Each group will have 45 minutes to find, identify, and photograph 5-10 native animals or plants. The first group back the starting point wins a prize!
– Early winter is perfect for a casual bike ride. Take members out on a local closed bike path and ride a couple miles. To break up the distance, stop at various points along the way to identify native trees, plants, wildlife, or areas where the ecosystems change. Youth can also make their own trail mix or flavored fruit water to take along with them as a healthy alternative to candy bars and soda.
– Provide each member with a strip of different color shades from the paint store. As you hike they should look for the colors in the landscape. As they identify one, have their leader punch a hole in that paint chip. Members will see the wide variety of colors within the native area.
– If your local club or county has GPS units, go on a treasure hunt! Out together These hunts are becoming more popular and a great way to work on direction, map reading, and using technology.
These are just a few of the activities your club could do outdoors. It could be as simple as moving a club meeting to an outdoor area or having a parent/member picnic. The outdoors provide us a great opportunity to build on all types of skills, so don’t miss out: Explore the Outdoors!