As the coronavirus pandemic stretches into nearly a full year of impacting our daily lives, the cold winter months ahead can seem daunting. Staying active is especially important for children’s physical and emotional well-being—and for their parents too!
One of St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s guiding principles is its commitment to nurturing the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. The school’s physical education program provides students with a safe, happy, and fun-filled P.E. experience in school, and our faculty wellness experts want to provide families with resources to do the same outside of school. Finding winter activities is even more of a challenge as temperatures drop, so two veterans of the department, Sean Parker and Josh Fritz, have rounded up fun and creative activities to enjoy through the winter months:
BUNDLE UP AND HEAD OUTDOORS!
Families can still have fun outside if dressed appropriately. Gear up in some warm winter clothes and waterproof boots, and try some of the activities below the whole family can enjoy:
- Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt – Take a walk outdoors and try to spot animals, specific colors, or listen for new sounds. How many can you find? Try making your own “binoculars” to take with you on your hikes.
- Ice Skating – Ice skating is a safe family activity, as it is outdoors and numbers of skaters are regulated. Visit NYCgo.com for information about skating. Many smaller rinks are popping up as well.
- Hiking NYC Parks – Wonderful parks surround us in New York City. They provide opportunities for families to get out and explore without traveling far. Visit nycgovparks.org for hiking trails in every borough.
Early Childhood (Beginners-Senior Kindergarten)
- Broom Hockey – Create a goal with furniture, such as a chair, then use brooms and a soft ball to have a fun game of indoor hockey.
- Obstacle Course - Use couch cushions, chairs to climb under, and even painter’s tape on the floor to create stations for squats or jumping.
- Freeze Dance – Always a favorite!
- Mirror, Mirror – Have children copy all of your movements, such as jumping jacks, act like a monkey, run in place, etc. If you have more than one child, this is a great activity to have them do together.
- “Figure Skating” – Clear an area on your floor and pretend you’re gliding across the ice. Have children stand on dryer sheets with bare feet and “skate” around the house.
- Indoor “Snowball Fight” – Use balled up socks, tissue paper, or these. For added fun, play some festive music.
- Balloon Volleyball – Blow up a balloon and tape a piece of string across the room for an instant balloon volleyball court. Don’t let it touch the ground!
Lower School (Grades 1-3)
- Coin Toss Game – Grab a coin and get moving. Try this fun race together.
- Baby Yoda Star Wars Art and Exercise Brain Break – Great for any Star Wars fans!
- Let’s Dance – Get your family up and dancing with this fun video
- Sock Ski-ball – Use materials around the house to create your own “ski-ball” game.
Upper Division (Grades 4-8)
- Go on a Virtual Run – See the sights of places like Rome, Italy, while you run in place or use a treadmill or stationary bike.
- Keep Up Your Basketball Skills – Practice drills at home or play sock basketball using a hamper or garbage can for a basket.
- Tabata Workouts – A quick high-energy workout good for getting the wiggles out.
- Backpack Workout – Use a backpack as a weight when you don’t have traditional gym weights at home.
- Light Weight Workouts – Any canned goods like soup or beans, or even water bottles, can act as weights
- Shadow Boxing - Get your heart rate up and pumping with this fun and easy shadow boxing workout.
“In order for children to find exercise fun, they need lots of variety," says Mr. Parker. “When exercise is fun, we’re much more likely to stick with it over an extended period of time.”
Mr. Fritz says that trying new physical activities together as a family has other benefits. “Parents may find that when children move more, family dynamics improve, bonds strengthen, and children gain confidence.”
So get up, get moving, and stay active this winter!
Sean Parker has served in the P.E. department in 2000. He coaches girls volleyball and boys basketball, and he has led both teams to multiple NYCAL championships throughout his long tenure at St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's. He is a graduate of Lehman College with a degree in political science.
Josh Fritz has been a member of the P.E. department since 2003. He has a master's degree in physical education from Teachers College Columbia University, and his undergraduate degree in health education is from Plymouth State University.