Every parent from the beginning of time has stressed out over how to get their kids outside more. Cave dwellers of the Paleolithic period were probably constantly nagging their kids to stop drawing on the walls and to go out to play with their rocks. When kids play outside they get the many benefits of fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and increased creativity. But, especially now, when electronic screens are so compelling and addictive, how can a parent compete with X-Boxes and TikTok? The first step is to realize that it’s ok and even healthy to put restrictions on your kids' screen time. The next step is to provide such amazing entertainment outdoors that your kids will never want to come inside!
Your backyard will quickly become the neighborhood hangout spot as soon as you get a 9 Square set. This is because the game is seriously addictive. If you have never heard of 9 Square, it is basically a super-fun mix between volleyball and 4 square. It is played inside a tall, 9-squared, cage-like structure. It only takes a few minutes to set up, but it provides hours of active and social entertainment for kids, teens, and adults alike.
Just like in 4 square, there is a “king spot” that everyone tries to get to. Players hit the ball up and over into other people’s squares until someone either misses the ball or hits it out. Once someone gets out, the other players rotate to fill in their spot and get one step closer to the center king’s position. What makes this game so special is that it is fun for everyone, regardless of their age or skill level. And yet, it is still challenging and engaging for even the best athletes.
You may have seen Gaga Ball at a church camp, park, or elementary school, but you can bring this fast-paced, competitive game home as well. Thanks to Castle Sport’s innovative and practical mindset, you can now purchase your own portable Gaga Ball set for use in your driveway, backyard, church gym, or park. Lightweight and convenient, this mesh structure is still durable enough to withstand the sheer force of even your most powerful players.
If you aren’t yet familiar with Gaga Ball, it is played inside a low-walled, round “cage.” Up to thirty people play by hitting a playground ball at each other’s feet. If the ball hits you from the knee down, you are out. The last person in the cage wins. Gaga Ball is one of the best games out there for getting copious amounts of exercise without even noticing it, simply because you are having so much fun!
Whether your kids are athletically inclined or not, a basketball hoop could be just what they need to draw them outside. One nice thing about basketball is that kids can have just as much fun playing or practicing alone as they do with friends. It takes no time to set up–all you need is a hoop and a ball–and they are adjustable so your hoop can grow with your kids. Plus, There are just so many ways to play! Maybe your kids will start a pick-up game of basketball with their friends. Or, they might want to slow it down just a bit and play Knock Out. Or, they can slow it down even more with a friendly game of Horse or Pig!
Basketball is also a great way for your kids to relieve stress–just shooting hoops alone with their thoughts. You can spend a small fortune by installing a permanent, professional-grade basketball hoop, but you certainly don’t have to. Water-weighted hoops are just as effective and can be purchased for a fraction of the cost.
Trampolines have been crowd-pleasers for decades. They provide endless hours of both fun and exercise. They build strength, increase bone density, and improve balance and coordination. Kids who don’t have a trampoline in their own yard will be drawn to yours like a moth to the proverbial flame. Best of all, most kids never outgrow a trampoline; teens tend to love them as much as kids.
While simply jumping and chasing each other around is fun, there are countless games that can be played on the trampoline as well. Your kids can play monkey in the middle, dodgeball, lava ball, crack the egg, and so much more. If you leave them to themselves long enough, they will probably come up with some pretty inventive games of their own! Of course, many parents purchase a trampoline with much trepidation about safety. However, if you enforce basic safety rules, you will probably find that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
If you really want your kids to get off their phones and get outdoors you might want to make a few purchases that will help nudge them along. If you don’t know where to start, the above items are all excellent choices. These purchases might feel a bit pricey upfront, but the reward of an active, social, healthy child will far outweigh the costs.