Fun Backyard Games!

action activity boy children
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Physical activity and healthy eating go hand in hand with personal wellness. Encouraging our children to partake in team sports is one way to be active, and many students that have had our Wellness lessons have expressed their love of soccer, football, basketball, and others. But it isn’t always the easiest to suddenly coordinate a backyard soccer or football game – that takes time and lots of little athletes! Quick and easy outdoor activities that can be done in our backyards are a great alternative when we want to encourage our children to be active on a sunny day after school. Below are two fun activity ideas that we went over in our classes and were enjoyed by all!

Life-size Tic Tac Toe – Facebook Video

A fun game to challenge our brains and also get our blood pumping. Best for ages 7+, with at least two children to play.

  • Set up a large tic tac toe board with either ropes or sidewalk chalk
  • Divide players into 2 teams
  • This is a relay. Each team will have 3 bean bags (either red or yellow). If bean bags are not available, can use different colored bandanas, or t-shirts, etc.
  • On go, the first player from one team goes, runs/jogs up to the board and places a bean bag in one of the squares
    • cannot move the other team’s bean bags
  • The second team player jogs up and places their piece
  • Repeat until all of the bean bags are in play. If neither team wins with the first 3 bean bags, then the next player’s turn is to go up to the “game board” and move one of THEIR bean bags to a new spot—either on offense or defense
  • The relay continues until one team gets 3 in a row (either diagonal, horizontal, or vertical)
  • Play best out of 3, 5, 7, etc.

 

affection chalk color conceptual
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Camouflage

A version of hide and go seek that is played in a wooded area or an area with lots of good hiding spots. Best with 4-5+ players. All ages can play and enjoy!

  • One player will be our “Hawk” and rest will be “Squirrels”
    • Goal of the squirrels is to hide from the hawk and avoid getting caught
  • Hawk stands in the center of playing area and closes his/her eyes and counts down from 30 seconds
    • Each subsequent round, have the hawk count down from 20 seconds, to 10 seconds
  • In those 30 seconds, the squirrels will jog to a hiding spot. Specify safety rules such as no climbing trees beforehand, no running, etc.
  • When the hawk is done counting, s/he will open their eyes and, without moving their feet, will look for the squirrels. The hawk can move around in a circle with their feet planted
    • When a squirrel is caught they must come over and sit by the hawk. Squirrels that have been caught must be silent and not give away the location of their fellow squirrels!
  • If hawk can find no more squirrels, start a new round of counting and have the squirrels find a new hiding spot
  • Continue until all squirrels are caught or hawk can find no more

Extra challenge for older kids:

  • During the first round, have the hawk hold up a number on their fingers above their head
  • The squirrels can only win the game if they 1. Avoid getting caught 2. Can tell the hawk what number was held up

hide and go seek

 

We’d love to hear what fun backyard activities YOUR kids like to do! Send julia@mountainroots.org an email if you’d like for your activities to be included in future posts.

Encouraging Healthy Choices

Welcome back to the Mountain Roots Blog! This is the first post in a short series of blog posts discussing childhood health and wellness with plenty of healthy snack ideas and backyard games to enjoy with the whole family! These games are a fun and easy way to encourage more physical activity for the whole family. If anyone has any questions or recommendations of their own favorite snacks and games, feel free to reach out to our AmeriCorps member Julia at julia@mountainroots.org and she will include them in the blog posts!

Recently, Mountain Roots has begun teaching outreach lessons on how kids can make healthier choices. Focusing on healthy eating and wellness, our outdoor education instructors started classes off with asking the students to tell them what it meant to be “healthy.” Examples given by the students included drinking lots of water, eating fruits and vegetables, and exercising. This encouraging start to the conversation led into a fruit and vegetable matching game for the younger students and a discussion on how to create a healthy, balanced plate for older students.

balanced plate
The USDA recommended proportions for a healthy plate

It’s never too early to start discussing health and wellness with your little ones. According to the CDC, only 21.6% of 6 to 19-year-old children and adolescents in the United States attain the recommended 60 or more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least 5 days per week. Physical activity can encourage better grades and higher rates of school attendance, as well as better memory and in-school behaviors and attitudes. Pairing exercise with healthy eating from a young age can encourage children to continue to make healthy choices into adulthood.

Our first healthy snack recommendation is…PEANUT BUTTER! 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contains 4 grams of protein and 8% of your daily value of fiber. While processed peanut butters such as Jif and Skippy contain lots of added sugars, natural peanut butter brands offer a delicious and healthier alternative without the added sugar. Spread some natural peanut butter on celery sticks, top with some raisins, and voilà! Ants on a log! Or, slice up an apple on a plate next to two tablespoons of peanut butter for a fruity and nutty afternoon snack.

ants on a log
Ants on a Log

Check back on the blog for more healthy snack and activity options!

The Journey Begins

Nine years ago, Mountain Roots was brought to life. Starting with two young Master’s students (Ali Holroyd Lien and Ryan Lubbers) and a small board of directors (John Myers, Clyde Carter, and Patrick Weaver) the team worked together to get Mountain Roots, Inc. off the ground. Since the beginning, Mountain Roots has aimed to provide discovery and outdoor learning experiences with a focus on environmentally responsible and community centered living in western North Carolina. Today, Mountain Roots fulfills this mission by providing outdoor education programs in collaboration with schools, nature-based summer day camps, and community retreats and workshops.

Mountain Roots Founders--2009
Mountain Roots Co-Founders & Founding Board–2009 Ryan Lubbers, Ali Holroyd Lien, John Myers, Clyde Carter

OUTDOOR EDUCATION

Since 2013, Mountain Roots has offered a range of outdoor education programs including wilderness programs, home school outings, weekly school-based outdoor education programs, as well as grant-funded outreach programs to the youth of Henderson & Transylvania Counties. We believe this is one of the most important aspects of what we do as it connects the younger generation with the natural world in new and exciting ways. Mountain Roots Outdoor Education programs provide the opportunity to incorporate hands-on learning based around age / grade appropriate topics. We take concepts to the next level by reaching out through a range of experiential teaching techniques.

Creek-side Outdoor Education
Creek-side Outdoor Education

DAY CAMP

Mountain Roots Day Camp (started in 2015), preceded by Mountain Roots Pottery Camps since 2012. Mountain Roots Day Camps (for ages 4-10), provide our campers with the opportunity to explore the world around them. Throughout the week, campers focus on music, art, nature-based fun, and gardening. Each week is different than the week before and the sense of community around Mountain Roots Day Camp is the highlight of the camp experience. Our campers get to experience games, activities, and lots of free play time with friends as we navigate our way through the day at camp.

Summer Camp Field Trip
Day Camp Field Trip to DuPont

RETREATS AND WORKSHOPS

Over the years, Mountain Roots has offered workshops and retreats to community groups on a wide range of topics including: women’s art retreats, family-based outdoor living skills, storytelling, teen leadership, corporate & college group development, and artist in residence workshops for local schools. We aim to customize the ideal retreat / workshop for all of our groups. Mountain Roots retreats and workshops really make a difference in achieving so many different goals identified by each group. Goals for a retreat may include team / group development, enhanced communication, or developing community norms. Our skilled and seasoned staff are strong facilitators that are relatable and enjoy providing these sorts of programs. We use a range of facilities and work to provide you with an unforgettable community experience. Ultimately we hope that all of our retreats and workshops will help our participants to make connections to themselves, their community, and the world around them.

Women's Roots Retreat
Women’s Roots Retreat

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE MOUNTAIN ROOTS BLOG

We have lots of stories (and lessons we’re learning) to share with you.

And around here, we can agree on lots of things, like:

  1. Being outside makes kids happy! And playing outside is FUN!
  2. When sense of place develops, we simultaneously feel a strong commitment to be stewards.
  3. Being kind, understanding, and responsible are beneficial life skills to have and to learn early.
  4. Learning makes us smarter. But at Mountain Roots, that Smarter means we have developed key connections to ourselves, our friends and classmates, and a love for the Earth around us.
  5. We can be change-makers. All of us. To spread love around the world. If we all just took a minute to hold a friend’s hand, share some fresh squeezed lemonade with a neighbor, or help out someone who looks lonely or lost, the world could be a special place.
Maples Fire lesson
Circle time–the Maples learn some outdoor living skills at Day Camp.

Thank you for reading our very first blog post! We are excited to stay connected to you and to be able to share updates about Mountain Roots as well as helpful outdoor tips. For more information, check out www.mountainroots.org/ or reach out to us directly here!