> Move and Groove
Take your exercise outside!
We all know that kids love being active and that being active makes kids happy. And you’ve probably seen how grumpy kids can instantly go from grizzle to delight in a mere moment just by stepping outside. And now the studies are in to prove what you already knew about kids and the great outdoors!
A recent report from Planet Ark summarised a body of local and international research linking childhood contact with nature with a range of health and wellbeing benefits, including:
- Positive mental health outcomes, such as reduced symptoms and severity of ADHD, reduced stress levels, reduced depression, and increased confidence and self esteem;
- Physical health benefits, such as reduced risks of obesity and myopia, improved balance and coordination, and improved recovery from certain medical conditions;
- Enhanced intellectual development, such as improved creativity and imagination, and improved academic performance.
Combining these with what we know about kids needing physical activity and heading outside for exercise seems like a terrific idea. And the icing on the cake for outdoor activity is that kids who are more active when young develop fewer health problems and kids who spend time outside grow into adults with a stronger sense of concern and care for the environment. Good for now, good for the future!
How To Do It
Create an obstacle course
Take students on a walk around the school, looking for natural and landscape features such as trees, rocks, hills, paths and open spaces.
Back in the classroom, break the class into groups of five or six. Each group should design an obstacle course on the school grounds to incorporate the natural and landscape features observed on your walk. Groups can incorporate other elements into their obstacle course that you might have at your school such as mats, tunnels or ropes.
Students can either vote for the best design and build it as a class, or choose one design a week or a month to build as a class.
Students can then complete the obstacle course!
- Groups should create a manual on ‘How to build an obstacle course to incorporate nature’ to be shared with other classes at your school.
- Safety concerns are often one of the barriers to getting kids outside. Work with students to establish some ground rules before heading outside – kids are more likely to follow rules they’ve helped to create! Consider rules about climbing, looking before you leap, putting hands in dark holes, and insects/spiders.
Old school options
Work with students to research the games and activities of yesteryear (these probably won’t feel so yesteryear to you!) such as Frisbee, hopscotch, skipping, What’s the time, Mr Wolf?, leapfrog and Red Rover. Ask students to focus on activities that require outdoor space.
As a class decide on which ones you want to do and create a schedule to do one activity once a week over a month or term.
Quick tip: Take photos of your activities and create an ‘Old School Games Manual’ with instructions, pictures and recommendations for other students at your school.
What’s Our Impact?
Spend time in nature running, climbing trees and getting dirty, or sitting quietly in the natural world around you. Just spending one hour outdoors instead of in the classroom will save you both gas and electricity!
- CO2E (weekly) 5.57
- CO2E (annual) 230
- Black balloons (weekly) 69
- Black balloons (annual) 2773
The Australian Government recommends that children aged 5-12 should participate in physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day.