Active (and free!) ideas for March Break

Two words: March Break.

Two more words, from the kids, a few hours into the day: “I’m booooooored.”

Few things bother me more than hearing my boys utter this line (and its close relative, “I don’t know what to doooooo.”)

When I hear my kids elongating their vowel sounds, I know they need to get moving. Here are some energizing activities that have worked for us, divided into indoor and outdoor settings. A major bonus: they all cost nothing!

Fresh air is always my first choice, so here are the outdoor ideas:

Bundle up for classic snow play. If there is still snow on the ground, get out there to shovel, build a snowman, design a fort, or go tobogganing – all of which are on the ParticipACTION 150 Play List. Snowball fights qualify, too! For target practice, try knocking over plastic bottles filled halfway with water.

Adapt a warm-weather sport. Fresh snow is like a blank canvas – one time, we turned our backyard into a winter baseball diamond. If you’ve got a March Madness college basketball fan in your household, grab a milk crate or old laundry basket as a target for free throws. Or, start a game of snow soccer, with a snowman standing in as a goalie or referee.

Take a good ol’ walk around the block. Although they groan loudly at first, my kids jump on board if I add a new element, no matter how small or silly it may seem. My younger son found a Spider-Man ski mask in our costume bin, and we went for a walk to “test it out.” One evening, my older son leapt up when I offered to let him walk while wearing my headlamp. If you have a GPS watch, pedometer, or activity tracker, letting the kids use it and view their data is also a step in the right direction.

Have an equipment reunion. If the snow is gone, the weather is mild, and the ground is reasonably dry, celebrate by pulling out the bin of active toys and sports equipment that has been stashed away all winter. Your collection of balls, jump ropes, Frisbees and bubble wands will all seem new and exciting after a winter hiatus.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, consider these indoor options:

Put the ‘free’ in free play. Ask around or do an online search for no-cost activity opportunities in your area. Are there any free swimming or skating times at the nearby community centre? Does your local family fitness facility offer a complimentary one-week trial pass? Spring sport organizations (such as baseball, softball, lacrosse, and soccer) tend to offer no-charge indoor “try-it” sessions at this time of year, to promote registration.

Dance the day away. If you haven’t already, it’s time to discover GoNoodle, a free online library of high-energy movement videos. Dancing along to the upbeat music and zany animations has become a positive addiction for my kids. They especially love the “Champs” – quirky cartoon characters who provide motivation to keep advancing to the next level.

Stretch your limits. If everyone is getting a little too revved up, calm things down with some Cosmic Kids Yoga. Each online video has simple, kid-friendly yoga moves connected to an entertaining story or theme, including Harry Potter, Frozen, and Star Wars.

Phone a friend. If you have a Wii system, host another family for a good-natured exergaming showdown. If you’ve got a spacious kid-friendly basement, invite your child’s friends over for some mini-stick hockey or balloon volleyball. Need to get out of the house? Head out to watch a game or competition of someone you know (like an older cousin or neighbour). The kids will enjoy exploring the venue and might get inspired to try the activity themselves.

Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, make sure that being active is part of your plan for the break. Chances are, the only two words you’ll hear from the kids are: “How fun!”