Want to get your kids to be more active but don’t always have time for a game of catch or a walk around the block? With these easy DIY activity sticks, you’ll always have an idea that fits into your schedule! They take just minutes to make and use supplies you probably already have in your house.
Activity Sticks To Keep Kids Active
When you are at home it seems almost impossible to keep kids entertained without using electronics. They can stay watching TV or an iPad for hours! But as parents we know that is not good for them. If you are interested in knowing more details about it, please see my post The iPad is far a bigger threat to our children than anyone realizes.
Limiting screen-time is very important. So, what do you do? This DIY idea is really helpful! Your kids will be super excited and you will be able to keep them away from a screen for a while. The entire family can benefit from these simple and easy activity ideas.
Remember that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for kids ages 6-17. For kids ages 3-5, they don’t give an exact amount of time, but recommend that kids engage in activity throughout the day.
Let’s get our children moving and away from screens with this super easy DIY idea!
How to Make DIY Kids Activity Sticks Video
What you’ll need:
- Craft sticks or popsicle sticks
- Washable markers in 3 or 4 different colors (let kids choose the colors)
- Thin-tipped Sharpie or a dark color pen
- Mason Jar
How to make them:
1. Ask your kids to color about 1/3 of each stick with the markers. For younger kids, draw a line where you want them to stop.
2. While they are coloring, make a list of a few fun activities for each of the following:
1 minute or less
3. Decide which color you’ll use for each activity level. I used pink for the fastest activities and green for the longest.
4. Use your fine-tipped Sharpie or pen to write one activity on each stick. The activity level should correspond with the colors you picked in step 3.
5. Put them in the jar! When kids are bored or you want them to get moving, let them pick out a stick. Just tell them which color to choose. Using my example, if you only have a minute or two before you have to head off to work and school, tell them to choose a pink stick. Got the whole afternoon wide open? Grab a green.
If you don’t have popsicle or craft sticks, you can use cardboard or heavy cardstock paper cut into strips.
Using a fine-point marker or pen is vital to step #4. I tried using a thicker Sharpie and it ended up blurring. While a marker is probably better, I just used a good pen.
Try to add new ideas to the jar at least once a month to keep it from getting boring.
For the longer activities, make sure to include some fun things to do as a family. That way, you’re all benefiting from the extra physical activity!
Here are a few more tips to help your family reach activity goals
1. Remember that it doesn’t have to be done all at once
You don’t need a solid hour of active time to reach your goal! Feel free to break it up throughout the day. Maybe take a short 15 walk in the morning before school (or walk to the school bus instead of drive if it’s close enough), then spend 15 minutes dancing together after school. Before or after dinner, take a 30-minute walk around the block. The goal is 60+ minutes a day, not an hour all at once. Of course, if you have a full hour to get out and get active, by all means, go for it!
2. Work with your child to set reasonable expectations
Older kids (5+) also tend to do better when they feel like they’re involved in the process, so work with them to set goals. Really listen to their preferences for physical activity.
For example, you want your child to spend 30 minutes outside in the fresh air riding his bike, but he tells you that he doesn’t enjoy that and would rather spend half an hour inside dancing to his favorite songs. Let him have the win. He’s still getting his physical activity without feeling like he has no control over his own body.
Letting kids win the occasional argument is actually beneficial to their future. It teaches them how to negotiate.
3. Mix things up!
Whether your children choose their activity, or you choose for them, make sure they’re mixing it up. As the CDC explains, you want them to engage in both aerobic and muscle-and-bone strengthening activities.
4. Make it fun and rewarding
The DIY activity sticks above help make physical fitness more fun, but if you still have a reluctant child you may want to consider offering a reward for reaching their goals. I recommend choosing a reward that involves staying active, like a family bowling night versus family movie night. Just like you should never use sweets as a reward for eating healthy, you shouldn’t use inactivity (like more screen time) as a reward for activity.
5. Don’t rely on recess or gym!
One last tip: don’t rely on recess or gym class to help your child reach those goals. Many elementary schools have cut recess down to 15 minutes or less a day, and gym class may only be offered 2 times a week. Even if your child has gym more often than that, a good chunk of the class time is spent getting changed or setting up a game. A 40-minute class may only involve 20 minutes of actual activity. Think of recess and gym class as bonus activity and not part of their 60 minutes.
With each new technological advance, it seems like getting kids moving becomes even more challenging. Making it fun is key to making it happen!