#Playful Kids

monkeybars2Recently we sat down with Evie Houtz, Program Specialist for Be Active Kids in Raleigh, NC. Evie is a mother of two playful kids. She is a role model for living an active, healthy lifestyle! Here is what Evie had to say when we chatted with her about Play!

“As Play Ambassadors, it is our job teach our children how to be playful and physically active just as much as it is our job to teach them morals, values, social skills, and educational concepts.   Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.   Physically active children will develop gross motor skills that later help them to take part in games and sports with their peers.  Physical activity helps children build strong hearts, muscles and bones, improve thinking skills, develop positive self-esteem and confidence and just have fun.

Kids of all ages need both structured and unstructured physically active play throughout the day.   Structured activities are adult led and have a specific learning objective.  This type of physical activity includes games like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light and organized sports like t-ball or soccer.  Young children should get between 60-90 minutes of structured physical activity throughout the day.  Many of these structured activities help the child to learn a motor skill or increase competency in movement.  In addition children should take part in at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity or free play.  This type of physical activity is child centered, child led and child initiated.  Unstructured physical activity includes things like fort building, climbing trees, running around pretending to be magical beings or super heroes, or creating a city out of boxes.  Unstructured free play helps a child to be more creative, learn to experiment, to work cooperatively, and to think more critically.  Both types of physical activity should be spread throughout the day.

In helping a child to play more, know that you have many items you around you each day that can be used for active play.  We all have milk jugs that can turn in to targets or balls, sticks that can used as swords, plastic bags that turn into juggling scarves and mud that can be thrown to ward off the bad guys.  It takes some creativity, courage and a little out-of-the-box thinking, but it is so important. Getting kids active is essential to their long term health and well-being.   Studies have shown that the motivation to be active (exercise) in adulthood can be influenced by childhood experiences.”

For more ideas or how to use inexpensive items to increase physical activity, check out the Be Active Kids 8 one-pagers.


By: Ryan Fahey, B.Ed, BKin

Ryan is a new regular blogger for the US Play Coalition.  He is working to develop our Play Ambassador program and spread the word about the Value of Play.