Health & Fitness

Household items can help child become active

As a parent, you want to provide plenty of physical activity for your child. But if expensive equipment just isn't in your budget, look no farther than around your house for loads of fun equipment that can turn a bored child into a creative, active mover.

Developmentally, children need creative play and the opportunity to increase fitness levels and develop motor skills that will help them be active throughout their lifetime.

During a recent physical education class, I described to my students what activities children played before there were more than 400 channels on TV, prompting one student to ask if that was "during the Roman days?"

All kidding aside, teaching them how to play marbles, hopscotch or skelzies — an old game in which players try to flick a bottle cap or other marker into numbered spaces drawn on a flat surface — helped them understand that fun activity doesn't have to cost much or involve a computer screen.

There are hidden treasures throughout your home that can help your child overcome boredom as well as develop physically. Here are a few:

* Plastic bags from the grocery store can be used for a variety of activities, including juggling. They can also be used to catch small stuffed animals or a pair of rolled-up socks which will develop eye-hand coordination.

* Turn empty cans into stilts or set them out in the lawn as holes for a course of lawn golf.

* Cans of fruits and vegetables can be used as weights to improve upper arm strength, a fitness component on which students typically need additional work.

* A small rake can be used as a hockey stick or a golf club with some creative maneuvering.

* Plastic lids that collect in your cabinets can be used as Frisbees, or as spots for a makeshift Twister game.

* Newspapers can be rolled or wadded and secured with tape to make a "bat" or ball.

* Save your empty Pringles chip cans, soda pop cans or 2-liter bottles. These can be turned into bowling pins to be knocked down with that wadded-up newspaper "ball." The 2-liter bottles can also be used as a bat.

* Rinse out an empty milk jug or Clorox bottle and cut the bottom off. Use masking or duct tape to cover the cut edges and you have a great scoop that can be used to catch small objects or scoop up stray objects around the house.

* Don't throw away pantyhose. Bend a hanger into a shape (a rhombus works best) and cover with clean pantyhose and you have a paddle perfect for striking balloons.

* Last but not least, turn on the radio and dance wildly! It is great exercise.

Have fun rummaging through the cupboards and closets for equipment your child can use to develop through creative play.