With families stuck in the home for long periods of time and a change in our normal routines, FitRec has decided to ramp up the rate of new content offered by its Family Focus Series. Over the next few weeks, FitRec will continue to update this page with fresh content focused specifically at helping your family dynamic stay strong and engaged during these uncertain times. Please continue to check this page every couple of days for new information as it becomes available.
April 22, 2020
Earth Day is April 22, 2020
Each year we celebrate Earth Day on April 22. Earth Day is a significant day on our calendar as we want help to increase awareness about our planet and environment. How will you and your family connect to nature this Earth day? Here are some ideas on how explore nature to get crafty.
Milk Carton Bird Feeder
Use this project to create a temporary bird feeder that the kids can decorate however they like.
- Clean and dry an empty milk carton
- Cut a hole big enough for a bird to fit
- Punch a hole in the top of the feeder and thread a string through. Tie at the top and secure.
- Decorate with crayons, paint, construction paper, etc.
- Once the bird feeder is dry, fill with birdseed and hang
While out exploring your backyard or neighborhood, bring a bag and invite your child to start a nature collection by gathering interesting items that have fallen to the ground. Pine cones, bark, leaves, sticks, small stones, and seeds can all be saved and used for nature crafts.
3-D Collage Art
- Paper towel or toilet paper tube
- Treasure from a nature walk
- Cut small slits all over the paper towel tube
- Children will insert the items they found on a nature walk to proudly display what they collected
April 18, 2020
Weekend Dance Party
It’s the weekend – time to blast the tunes and dance it out! See some ideas for heart pumping dance games below. For these games, instead of having players be “out” or lose a turn, have them perform an exercise to get back in the game. For example, if they don’t freeze in time for freeze dance, kids can do 10 jumping jacks, or 5 push ups to get back in for the next round. Get moving and have fun!
- Have the family members form a circle around the dance area.
- Choose one player to go first. That player will step into the center of the circle and make up a dance move.
- The next player will step into the center and repeat the same dance move. After that player mimics the dance move of the first player, they then performs one of his own.
- It is up to the next player to repeat both dance moves and add a third.
- The game continues in this manner, with each dancer repeating and then adding a new move to the list.
- Play music and have everyone dance randomly
- Stand alongside the dance area and call out different dance styles, such as disco, square dance, ballroom, hip-hop or ballet
- Whenever a new dance style is called, players must switch their dance moves to suit that style
Cha Cha Slide Game
- Play the song Cha Cha slide on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, etc.
- This song tells you what to do so it’s super easy for kids to follow along.
- Cupid Shuffle and YMCA are good ones too!
- Blow up a balloon or use a beach ball
- The kids need to juggle the balloons while they dance to the music.The balloon should not fall on the floor until the music stops.
- The one who stays longer on the dance floor juggling the balloons will be the winner.
- In this activity, everyone dances as the music plays
- When the music stops, each player must freeze immediately and hold that position until the music begins again
- If a player does not freeze immediately, s/he does 10 jumping jacks during the start of the next round and then rejoins the dance.
April 15, 2020
Keeping It Simple with Old School Games
Children have been at home from school for almost a month now and many parents may be running out of ideas or supplies to keep everyone entertained. Sometimes the best way to have fun is by keeping it simple! For these following games, the only materials you need is paper and pen.
Popular activities include tic-tac-toe, making paper fortune tellers, or word searches. Try the simple games below for some family-friendly competition. These challenges will have children using strategy to outsmart their parents or siblings. You can even take the activities outside and play with sidewalk chalk!
Dots and Boxes
- To play Dots, you need a square of dots on the page (start with 6×6 and challenge your kids to go up to 30×30 or more)
- Once the square is created, players (2 or more) take turns with a different color pen creating line segments between dots
- When a player forms a square with their line, they may put their initial in that square and play again
- The game continues until all the lines between the dots have been drawn. Count up squares at the end to see who wins!
- Give everyone a piece of paper
- On the top section, draw a head. It can be an animal head or a person’s head, as weird as you like
- Fold that section back, so that it’s hidden, and slide it across the table to the next person
- Without looking at the hidden drawing, the next person draws a chest and arms (of a person, animal, alien), folds it back as well and passes it on to the next person
- Without looking at the previous pictures, that person draws a body (stomach and hips) and the final person draws the legs and feet.
- Finally, unfold your papers and laugh at the weird creatures you have created!
- Players secretly write down common phrases on pieces of paper and fold them up
- The first chosen artist randomly picks a phrase then must draw and get the others to guess the phrase without talking or drawing letters or symbols
- Once guessed correctly, a new artists is picked
- Variation: instead of common phrases, write books, characters/celebrities or films
- One player thinks of a word or phrase; the others try to guess what it is one letter at a time
- The player draws a number of dashes equivalent to the number of letters in the word
- If a guessing player suggests a letter that occurs in the word, the other player fills in the blanks with that letter in the right places
- The number of incorrect guesses before the game ends is up to the players
- The first player to guess the correct answer thinks of the word for the next game
April 10, 2020
This Friday’s edition of Family focus features a kids yoga class taught by FitRec instructor and founder of The Do Good Movement, Erin Stevenson. You can find a variety of yoga workouts for the whole family on her YouTube page. This week’s class had a read through of the book “I Am Yoga” as Erin leads your child through each move and breath exercise. Perfect your poses including camel, tree, airplane and much more! This is a creative way to strengthen your bodies and calm your minds.
Follow this link below to get moving!
Camel Pose is a fun and challenging yoga pose, that helps kids to improve their posture and strengthen their back muscles!
Begin on your knees, with the tops of your feet resting on the floor.
Place your hands on your back, with your fingers pointed down.
Lean back, until your hands touch your feet. If you are having trouble reaching your feet, it’s ok to stay where you are, or to turn your toes under to elevate your heels.
Hold this pose for a couple of breaths.
Bring your hands to your lower belly, and slowly come back to upright.
Tree Pose can be a challenging balancing pose, that even the youngest yogis love to try! To encourage breathing in this pose, gently blow a breeze through your tree branches!
Begin in Mountain Pose.
To help with balance, extend your arms out to either side.
Bend one knee to the side, and set your toes on the floor and your heel against your ankle.
Lift your hands up to the sky.
Hold this pose for a couple of breaths, then lower your arms and stand on both legs.
Repeat on your opposite side.
Airplane Pose can be used to improve balance, strengthen legs, and build core strength.
Begin in Mountain Pose.
Extend your arms out to either side.
When you feel balanced, lean forward, lifting one leg straight behind you.
Hold this pose, then return your leg to the ground and your arms to your sides.
Repeat with your opposite leg.
April 7, 2020
Although local parks and playgrounds are closed, there’s plenty of green space in backyards and on walks to do activities. Take some time this week to explore the outdoors as a family. Here are some entertaining games and crafts to do from kidsgardening.org.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Put a list together of items that can be found outside and have kids check them off as they find them. You can do backyard Bingo as well and have them make a Bingo card to fill in. Can be done at home or during a walk.
Scavenger Hunt/Bingo Ideas:
- Spider web
- Colorful rock
Garden Art Snacks
During snack or meal time, have kids turn their food into art! Try to think of animals or plants that can be found in a garden to make out of fruits & veggies.
- A variety of fruits and vegetables cut into various size pieces
- Toothpicks (optional)
- Dips such as ranch, hummus, or yogurt (optional)
April 3, 2020
Read It, Then See It!
It’s Friday, the perfect time for a family movie night. With most people working from home and kids doing e-learning throughout the week, Friday night movies are a great way to wind down and spend time together. A lot of best-selling children’s books have also been made into movies that can be streamed at home. Search your shelves for one of your favorites to read together and then watch!
Here are some suggestions:
Make it an experience and bring the movie theater to your home!
– Have kids craft movie ticket stubs to enter theater.
– Get comfy! Sport slippers and PJS and make sure to have plenty of pillows and blankets.
– Create a snack box. Some ideas include: homemade icees made with crushed ice and fruit juice, trail mix with ingredients like popcorn, pretzels, nuts, raisins and M&Ms, or chips & salsa.
– Plan an intermission when kids can refill snacks/drinks, take a stretch break, or use the washroom.
– Clap when the movie ends and have everyone give their ratings between 1-5 stars.
March 31, 2020
Crafting in the Kitchen
Even though it might not feel like it in Chicago, it’s officially Spring! While we’re all waiting for the flowers to bloom and the sun to shine, we can bring a little color into our life by getting crafty in the kitchen. Below are some fun ways to brighten up these chilly, cloudy days.
Rainbow Fruit Overnight Oats
This recipe comes from hellowonderful.com. Overnight oats is a meal that can be made with all your favorite fruits so feel free to add different ingredients. With an easy prep from start to finish, it’s a great way to get your children involved with making a healthy breakfast as well.
– 1 ½ Cups Old Fashioned Oats
– 1 ½ Cups Milk
– ¼ Cups each of cut up colorful fruit (mangos, raspberries, banana, kiwi, blueberries)
– 1 Tablespoon honey (optional)
– 1 Tablespoon Chia seeds (optional)
– 1 Mason jar or container with lid
- Pour old fashioned oats into a bowl
- Add chia seeds, milk, and honey to the bowl with oats and mix.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight
- The next morning the milk and oats will have mixed and you will layer with fruit
- Alternate fruit and oatmeal layers in your jar or container
- Create a rainbow by layering one rainbow fruit on top of oats. Alternate layers of oats in between the fruit.
- When complete, taste the rainbow!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup salt
- 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (coconut oil works too)
- Food coloring, optional
- Quart sized bags
- Stir together the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a large pot.
- Next add the water and oil.
- If you’re only making one color, add in the color now as well.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Continue stirring until the dough has thickened and begins to form into a ball. Remove from heat and then place inside a gallon sized bag or onto wax paper. Allow to cool slightly and then knead until smooth.
- If you’re adding colors after, divide the dough into balls (for how many colors you want) and then add the dough into the quart sized bags.
- Start with about 5 drops of color and add more to brighten it.
- Knead the dough, while inside the bag so it doesn’t stain your hands.
Once it’s all mixed together you’re ready to PLAY!
March 27, 2020
Practicing Bike Safety
Family bike rides are a fun, healthy way to get some fresh air and exercise. It is also an activity that follows the practice of social distancing. According to a recent article in Bicycling Magazine, getting in 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to brisk activity can help your immune system keep viruses at bay. Riding your bike is a great opportunity to get outdoors!
Please exercise responsibly – if you are sick, it’s not the time to ride.
Before the Ride
- Pick a route or destination so everyone knows the path you will take on your ride
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Bright colors help you to be seen on the road.
- Wear protective gear – most importantly a properly fitted helmet!
- Check your equipment – make sure tires are filled and brakes work properly
- Pack water. Pack snacks if going on longer ride
- Make sure children understand to stay with family and to follow the lead rider
- Go with the flow of traffic. Ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals
- Encourage children to always ride with both hands on handlebars to control the bike
- Ride in straight line so cars can predict which way the group is going
- Watch for and avoid road hazards such as potholes, puddles, glass, or gravel
- Stay alert! Use your eyes and ears to avoid dangerous situations.
- Return all equipment and properly store bike
- Do a few quick stretches with the kids to recovery after a ride
- Drink plenty of water
- Plan your next ride!
March 24, 2020
Being at home away from school and work is a big change for a lot of us. We might get bored, frustrated or lonely at times. One way that can help us stay busy and help manage our emotions is by creating a Meditation Jar. FitRec Yoga Instructor Erin Stevenson did this activity at home with her kids and says it’s a great tool to calm your mind and body. Just shake it up and by the time the glitter settles to the bottom of the jar, you’ll find yourself a bit more calm.
- Gather your supplies
- Plastic jar/bottle
- Warm water
- Food coloring (optional)
- Glitter glue
- Mix glitter glue with warm water and a few drops of food coloring in a jar or bottle and shake until the glue “melts” and mixes with the water. Glue to water ratio is up to you.
- Add additional glitter, seal top tightly and shake vigorously one more time
- If your jar is not 100% full, top off with warm water
- Secure lid to make sure it won’t leak
- Shake and enjoy!
Supplies can be bought separately online through sites like Michael’s or Amazon. Some sites even offer all supplies sold together in a set.
Here is a link to this project on the Michael’s website
Or if you would like to purchase your own calming bottle, they are on sale through Amazon by clicking here
Be sure to follow Erin on social media @thedogoodmovement. Her pages include yoga for adults & kids to practice at home, and plenty of projects to keep everyone busy! Here is her webpage thedogoodmovement.com/
March 21, 2020
The website eatright.org recently released an article with tips on how to still make healthy choices, while supporting local businesses and taking a night off from meal prep. Hopefully, the website’s article provides some useful information as families plan ahead to feed their households. Special thanks to eatright.org for these helpful tips.
When you need a night off from cooking and dine-in restaurants aren’t an option, meal delivery services or takeout can be a convenient alternative. Making healthful choices from an online menu can be a challenge — especially since nutrition facts are not always posted to online menus.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you decipher the meal delivery or take-out menu:
- Terms to be mindful of include “crunchy,” “crispy,” “battered” and “breaded,” as well as “creamy,” “cheesy” and “Alfredo,” which often can mean they’re higher in fat or calories. Limit items that are fried or served in sauces that are high in saturated fat. Items that may be more healthful options might use terms like “baked,” “grilled,” “roasted,” and “steamed,” as well we “al fresco” or “marinara.”
- Consider steamed vegetables or fruit as a side option, when available.
- Rethink your drink. Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages can add up quickly and provide little nutritional value. Choose options like water, low-fat or fat-free milk or drinks such as unsweetened coffee or tea.
- Sauces and dressings usually come on the side when ordered to-go but ask for sauces and dressing on the side to be sure and help control how much actually goes on your food.
- Instead of eating out of the containers, plate your food for a more appropriate portion size when servings are large. You also can save part of your meal for later.
As always, wash your hands before serving or eating.
Ordering for Little Ones
Choose a restaurant that caters to children and has a nutritious children’s menu that includes smaller portion sizes and meals designed to provide ample nourishment for smaller bodies.
Pasta is a kid favorite – penne, macaroni or shells are easiest for small children to handle. Ask for pasta with olive oil or marinara. Some kids are more adventurous than others but it’s important to encourage tasting new foods. Choose two or three suitable menu items, then let your child pick one.
March 18, 2020
The Incredible Egg!
Cooking/baking is a great activity to do at home with kids and a fun way to teach them about healthy food choices. One of my favorite foods to prep throughout the week is hard-boiled eggs. They are easy to cook and you can mix up your meals throughout the week with a little creativity.
Benefits on a Budget!
Eggs are an awesome food for kids! The fat in the yolk and protein in the whites help with brain & bone development. They are budget friendly and a quick way to get a healthy meal in.
Decorate and Get Messy!
After cooking the eggs and letting them cool, decorate them!
- Save and clean the eggshells. Children can use them to create eggshell mosaics. Shell can be colored with markers or paint and then glued on paper or cardboard to create a fun design.
- With marker, write little messages to each other on your eggs. When you take them out of the fridge to eat later that week, you’ll have a nice note to share!
- With egg dying kit, you can use rubber bands to twist around egg and make crisscross patterns or stripes.
- Put a small amount of rice into a container with lid and put 6-8 drops of food coloring in. Mix with a spoon. Places eggs in container and shake! This will make a cool speckled effect on the eggs.
As with any recipes, please check there are no allergies, but below are some ways I like to use eggs throughout the week!
To make the PERFECT hard-boiled eggs:
– Place eggs in an even layer at bottom of saucepan.
– Fill pan with cool water – should fill one inch over eggs (add one tablespoon and pinch of salt with help prevent cracking).
– Heat water on medium flame uncovered until water is at a steady boil.
– Once water comes to boil, cover and remove from heat.
– Cook for 12-14 minutes.
– After cook time, rinse eggs under cold water or soak in ice bath.
– Dry and store in airtight container to refrigerate.
– Slice up eggs and tomatoes to layer on toast.
– Chop up eggs and put over greens with avocado and veggies.
– Remove and mash yolks mixed with greek yogurt, mashed avocado, lemon juice, and mustard. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon back into whites for guacamole deviled eggs!
This type of interval workout is a different exercise Every Minute On the Minute. This is a great way to keep your kids moving and to do a workout together! The only thing you need is space – living room, basement, backyard, park – and a timer on a watch or phone.
Take turns switching off being the person keeping time and the person doing the exercise. Remember to count your reps out loud. It’s best to set a number to reach in under a minute and then give yourself a little time to rest before the next movement. For example, do 25 jumping jacks for the first minute. If you finish 25 and still have 10 seconds left you get to rest before the next movement!
Here are some ways to move that don’t need any equipment:
Star Jumps – stretch your arms and legs out at the same time wide like a star when you jump
Frog Jumps – squat down like a frog and leap as high as you can straight up (illustrations below)
Leg Raises – lie on side or back and lift your leg(s) without bending at the knees
Inchworms – bend at waist and walk arms out. Walk feet toward hands and stand up (illustrations below)
Speed Skaters – Alternate arm and opposite leg going side to side as fast as you can (illustrations below)
Supermans – Plank on knees or lie down on floor. Raise one arm straight out and opposite leg. Switch sides. (illustrations below)
Star Jumps –
Frog Jumps –
Speed Skaters –