Sneaky Activities

By: Missy Chase Lapine and Larysa Didio

Sample Activities for Preschoolers & Gradeschoolers
Marching Band

You don't need seventy-six trombones to lead a big parade. All you need are some willing band members and some imagination. The music you make may not hit the top of the charts, but the exercise you're sneaking in is solid gold.

What you'll need:

  • Musical instruments, or make your own with pots and pans
  • beans in a coffee can
  • a plastic container with water, or upside-down buckets


Who's playing: Preschoolers
How many: 2 or more
Prime time: Any Day, Weekends, Playdates, Parties

Lead your "band" around the house and/or outside, and up and down stairs, reminding them to march by bringing their knees up high as they go.

Fitness Factor: Cardiovascular Endurance, Coordination, Mood Booster!
Covert Calories: Marching will burn 53 calories in 20 minutes.
Sneaky Supercharge: Have them step side-to-side for one minute, skip for one minute, walk backward for one minute, and jump for one minute as you make your way through the parade route. You'll tack on an extra 72 calories.

Dig to China!

While you're weeding the garden or shoveling snow, arm your child with a bucket and a child-sized shovel and she will be happy to dig for hours!

What you'll need:

  • A child-sized plastic shovel and a bucket


Who's playing: Preschoolers
How many: 1 or more
Prime time: Sunny Days, Weekends

Set your child up in a garden patch or in a small pile of snow. Tell her to dig down as far as she can and if she digs far enough she may just reach the other side of the globe. Keep her interest by asking what she thinks she'll see when she gets there and what she'll say to the people she meets.

Fitness Factor: Strength, Cardio
Covert Calories: She'll burn 68 calories in 30 minutes.
Sneaky Supercharge: Have her fill the bucket with dirt or snow and dump it into a pile a few feet away. For added incentive, offer to time her to see how fast she can fill 5 buckets.

Set Up Shop

Playing store is a game that we loved when we were little, and our kids enjoy now too. Only one thing has changed since we were their age: We now know that it's fun and good for you!

What you'll need:

  • A pantry


Who's playing: Preschoolers, Grade-Schoolers
How many: 1 or more
Prime time: Rainy Days, Playdates

Let your kids raid your pantry for cans to set up on the countertop as a store. Let them lift, carry, stack, and arrange the goods. When it comes time for the "customers" to pay, have them bag the groceries and help carry them to the "car."

Fitness Factor: Strength, Cardio
Covert Calories: Your store clerks will burn 48 calories in 30 minutes.
Sneaky Supercharge: Leave the 16-ounce cans out of reach and stock up on the 20-ounce ones instead.

Sample Activities for Tweens
Set Up Shop    (See Above ^ )

Halftime Show

Take it from us--and Missy's kids: Say the words "Hannah Montana" and you won't have to do much prodding to get them to start singing and dancing. Larysa's kids are also big fans of the Power Rangers and like to imitate their moves.

What you'll need:

  • A remote with a mute button


Who's playing: Grade-Schoolers, Tweens
How many: 1 or more
Prime time: Every Day

Every time a commercial comes on, press the mute button and ask your kids to give you a floor show--sing, dance, or act out what just happened in the show they're watching.

Fitness Factor: Cardio, Coordination, Mood Booster!
Covert Calories: They'll burn 41 calories in 20 minutes.
Sneaky Supercharge: When the show's over, request a full recap--have them act out all the parts and give you a coming attraction of what they think will happen in the next episode.

Slip and Slide

Missy's latest sneaky purchase was bright green "dust mop slippers." They didn't stay bright green for long, though, as she and her girls saw who could make them the dirtiest by sliding all over the kitchen and foyer. Every time they slip and slide, they get a great workout, and the house ends up gleaming.

What you'll need:

  • A pair of old socks


Who's playing: Grade-Schoolers, Tweens
How many: 1 or more
Prime time: Any Day, Rainy Days

Put on some old socks and let your kids slip and slide while they dust the floors.

Fitness Factor: Cardio, Balance, Strength, Mood Booster!
Covert Calories: They'll burn 68 calories in 30 minutes.
Sneaky Supercharge: Add a little coordination and amp up the pace by putting on "The Twist" and have them twist and slide as they go, which will also tack on an extra 33 calories for every 15 minutes they dance.

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

When Missy's daughter, Emily, got a cell phone at the beginning of fifth grade, it came with a few rules--one of which was that she's not allowed to put it to her ear. With an earpiece in and her hands free, she's naturally more likely to pace around the house as she chats.

What you'll need:

  • A phone, a headset (optional)


Who's playing: Tweens
How many: 1
Prime time: Every Day

House Rule: If you're chatting on the phone, you have to be up and on your feet. Pacing around the house will help your tween burn some calories.

Fitness Factor: Cardio
Covert Calories: Your chatty child will burn almost a calorie per minute.
Sneaky Supercharge: Have her climb the stairs as she talks, which will add 64 calories in a half hour.

 


 

 

The Sneaky Chef is available at fine booksellers everywhere: