Tag Archives: sports

Buy Christmas Gifts That Encourage Kids to do More Outdoor Activities

Here it is, the start of the holiday shopping season, or at least the start I’m willing to admit to. I’m trying to ignore all those businesses that had Christmas stuff out back before Halloween, or the ones that tried to move Black Friday a week early.

At this time of year, kids are clamoring for all kinds of gifts. The hottest toys are discussed, and most kids want far more than they could ever play with. It can be pretty crazy.

With all the toys many children already have, I like to suggest thinking about what it is you’d like them to be doing, as well as what they like to do. Any gifts you do give you will want appreciated, after all.

My own favorite gift for my kids to get right now is anything that encourages them to be more active. They’re pretty active already, and I’d like it to stay that way as long as possible. Better for their health and certainly a better way for them to appreciate the world around them.

The really great part about outdoor activities is that whatever equipment they require is not likely to include a lot of small pieces to be left all over the house. Sports equipment and the like left around the yard, sure, but not all over the house.

Here are some ideas to get you going on shopping for outdoor toys and equipment for your own kids.


The right wheeled equipment depends on age. Younger kids will need more stable equipment than older kids, and any kid will need a bit of time to get used to unfamiliar equipment. But it’s all fun.

Consider a bike, tricycle, scooter, roller skates, skateboard, and any of their cousins. These help kids to be more active and learn to balance well. Don’t forget appropriate safety equipment and discussions.

Team Sports

Whether you enroll your kids in a team sport or just play at home with family and friends, team sports help your child be more physically fit and active while learning how to play on a team. Just how good the lesson is will depend on the particular team, since some overly emphasize winning and giving the top players most of the game time.

Your child probably has a favorite sport, and it’s best to stick with that when getting your child into a team sport. You can push for other sports, but if you’re going for more active, you want your child to enjoy what they’re doing. Physical activity should not be dreaded.

Swing Set

How can any young child resist a good swing set? It’s hard for many adults! Figure out the space you have and a reasonable budget, and get things moving.

There are of course many other ways to get kids active outdoors. What are the favorites in your family?

Encourage Your Kids to Be Active

From a young age, most kids are very active. They love to run around the house and play. It’s a lot for many of us to keep up with, especially if we haven’t been particularly active ourselves.

But as they get older, TV and video games slow many down. Sitting around takes the place of active play. As a parent you know you should encourage more activity, but it’s not always easy to decide what to have your kids do.

Have Them Take the Lead

Signing your child up for an activity is an easy way to encourage activity, but it can also be frustrating for kids. Many parents choose activities for their kids based on what they would want to do, not the child’s interests. This can lead to frustration.

Find out what your child would like to try. Don’t limit options to just team sports; there are a lot of alternatives out there. My own children love karate. It’s a good workout, and they progress at their own rates.  There’s no guilt for not being the best player on the team.

Don’t stress if they find they don’t like a particular sport or activity. Just agree to try something different next time. Swimming, karate and dancing are all good activities, and don’t have to be done on a competitive level.

Remember That They’re Children

A big mistake many parents make in signing their kids up for activities is forgetting that they’re children. Parents can expect their child to put in unreal amounts of practice in the hopes that they will excel. Some parents have dreams of their kids going into a professional career in whatever sport they’re playing as an activity.

It doesn’t matter what your dreams are for your child, or even if he or she agrees that they want to do their sport professionally. As a parent, it is your job to make sure that they don’t do more than is good for their bodies. That means no over training. That means leaving time for other things in their lives such as playing with friends and relaxing.

Overdoing is a huge mistake. Children can permanently injure their bodies trying too hard in their sports. Their bodies are still growing and really are not ready for intense training.

Don’t be the screaming parent watching your kids either. You’ve probably heard the reports of parents getting into fights at their children’s games. Your job is to encourage your child. You don’t need to do that by yelling at them, their teammates or their competition. You’ll do better to teach good sportsmanship.

Get Involved

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be getting active yourself. It’s better for your health to be active, and you’ll probably have fun.

This is a wonderful, non-materiel gift you can give your children. Participating in an activity creates great memories, which will be remembered for many years. It also helps to create healthy habits.

How involved you get depends on the time you have available. You don’t want to overdo it – kids need to learn how to do things on their own too – but you should be there to help them practice sometimes and as needed to get them to their activity. It also might help you to remember how much fun being physically active can be.

Green Sports for Your Kids to Enjoy

Most parents sign their kids up for a sport at one point or another. My oldest two, for example, are currently enrolled in karate and have been asking about soccer. It’s nice being able to keep them active.

While signing up your kids for sports isn’t necessarily a time many parents think about the environment, maybe it should be. There are more and less green sports for them to choose from.

Karate is a fairly green example. The class my kids are in takes place at the local Elks Lodge, so all it requires is the uniforms and the gas to go to and from class. They’re evening classes about 3 miles away on very hilly roads, so not a practical walk for a 7 and 5 year old. At least not if I want them to have energy for class. Not to mention the return home.

As the kids get to higher levels, there are some more resources used, but it’s not all bad. It’s not like they’re going to be breaking bricks right from the start, and one of the things their sensei showed us was the reusable breaking boards they have for teaching them some time down the road how to do that. Certainly better than boards that only break once.

Their choice of soccer isn’t as green, although it could be worse. The bad part is simply the care of the playing fields, which in most places means using a lot of chemicals on the fields and trimming the grass quite short. But at least the equipment needs are minimal.

For those who are into it, hunting and fishing can actually be quite green. This is because the licensing most often goes toward conservation efforts and there are generally sensible limits geared toward maintaining the resources. There can be issues with less than green equipment, however, not to mention the ethical considerations many have toward eating meat.

Bicycling is another great green choice. The bikes take some resources to maintain, but not a lot and as kids outgrow them bicycles can be handed down or sold. Bikes are easy to buy online or locally. Best of all, even if the kids use bikes for sport they also have a practical purpose as transportation.

If you’re up for letting your kids do it, rock climbing can be another green choice. Minimal equipment and you take it all home with you at the end of the day. Rock climbing can help to develop quite an appreciation for nature also.

Hiking and camping are also great choices, provided you stick to established trails and bring back out everything you bring in. You can even make improvements if you come prepared to haul other people’s trash back out.

For all sports, be sure that you consider the environment when you buy equipment. Buying used is always a great choice, but if you need new consider what materials you’re buying. Amazon Green has a sports section, although you still need to consider whether it’s green or greenwashed.

Always remember how very important it is for children to be active, especially outdoors. It’s not just about keeping our kids fit and healthy. It’s building an appreciation for activity and the outdoors. You can’t love nature if you only see it on TV.