By Double Duty Mama
On a camping trip last year, my kids found in the dirt all around our site little colored balls that we assume are pellets from air soft guns. They spent hours scanning, squatting and scooping these tiny “treasures” from the dirt and putting them into sandwich baggies. They’ve done the same on every camping trip since.
My younger son, especially, coveted his newest collection for his treasure box (an old shoe box on the floor of his room). Inside that box are rocks from past hikes, sea shells from beach visits, bottle caps he finds on walks that he’s keeping for a friend who has a collection, a disintegrating pine cone and other odds and ends he finds.
Experts say there are many psychological benefits to children collecting … but there isn’t a lot of mention about the physical benefits. It’s pretty simple when you think about it: You give a young kid a bag, bucket, pail or cup and send him off in a park, at the beach or even in the yard to find treasures. You can give him a theme, like things that are “red” or different kinds of leaves, for motivation if he needs it.
What happens next is lots of moving. Large motor skills are being activated as she walks, squats and bends, and her small motor skills are getting a workout too, as she uses her pincer grasp (the thumb and forefinger) to pick up objects and place them in a container.
With young kids needing at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day to keep them healthy, encourage your kids to Get Out & Play by starting their own collections, going on a treasure hunt or even creating a scavenger hunt. Of course, when you join in, your kids will have even more fun.
This summer and always, First 5 LA and Ready. Set. Grow! want families with young children to learn about ways to increase physical activity to combat the childhood obesity epidemic. Visit the Get Out & Play web hub and be sure to enter the Get Out & Play Fitness Challenge for a chance to win prizes.