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Ready, set, go: Help kids productively burn energy during stay-at-home orders

What adult hasn’t marveled at a child zipping around at electrifying speed and said, “Don’t you wish you could bottle that?” referring to their energy. Their power supply seems infinite.

In fact, two years ago Tala Salem, reporting for US News, shared key results of a study conducted by researchers in France and Australia suggesting that “Children have greater energy levels than well-trained adult endurance athletes.” Salem cites Sebastien Ratel, one of the authors of the study, in suggesting that “these findings may explain why children seem to have the ability to continuously play long after adults become tired.”

So no, it’s not your imagination, and no, you can’t bottle that. But the bigger question during these long stay-at-home weeks is what to do with all that energy?

Be creative! Do your kids like music? Chromecast a karaoke session using YouTube, tune in to Spotify, or drop in a DVD of a favorite musical. Singing can burn calories, improve fitness, and build skills. Or subscribe to AnywhereTeacher.com, School Zone’s online learning program, to access dozens of adorable songs such as “Jump,” “Hug Bug,” and “The Measuring Song.”

According to OpenMic UK, when it comes to crooning, “Every person is a different size and puts in a different level of effort when singing, so everyone will burn a different number of calories.” But they go on to say that “Singing burns about 136 calories per hour, depending on your size and amount of energy you use.” (Imagine your little ones makin’ like a rock star with air guitar, groovin’ dance moves, and a few leaps and jumps!) The site also notes that while singing “you use the abdominal muscles for exhalation and the diaphragm for inhalation, engaging muscles to boost your metabolic rate and burn calories.”

Of course, kids will probably find it funny—possibly even LOL hysterical—if Mom and Dad join in, and you could even FaceTime or Skype in Grandma and Grandpa for the performance.

And on a similar note, a Parade article by Stephanie Osmanski, titled “Avoid Cabin Fever with These 125 Ideas to Keep Kids Entertained During the Coronavirus Crisis,” notes that “DJ Mel in Austin, Texas, is hosting a weekly kid-friendly ‘Living Room Dance Party’ on his Facebook page” and provides a link.

Her long list also mentions perennial favorites such as “make a cardboard fort” and “set up a treasure hunt,” but makes use of today’s tech too, including the suggestion to “film TikToks.” (In addition, the list includes more passive pursuits, and calls out some prominent zoos and museums that are offering virtual tours.)

For more ways to get kids moving, AnnaLiese Burich, writing for Mommy Nearest for Kids by KidPass, offers super fun options in “20 Indoor Games to Help Kids Burn Energy.” One is to “Blow bubbles (in a relatively empty areas, of course) and challenge your kids to pop them all before they hit the ground.” She notes, “They’ll be diving, jumping and popping for hours.” Another is to “Teach kids how to walk like a crab—you know, on all fours with their bellies facing up…” She then suggests holding crab race! Yet a third clever idea is to make a Mission Impossible-like “laser maze” using crepe paper or painter’s tape and put kids through some contortions to reach a prize on the other side.

A few weeks back, when school closures were just starting, Time ran an article titled, “The Secret to Keeping Your Kids Happy, Busy and Learning if Their School Closes Due to Coronavirus.” It included a couple activities that get kids moving, thinking and problem-solving. One is Box Road, where kids flatten out a box, draw a road on it with marker, and then add blocks, trucks, and other items to build a city.

Another game was Sticky Match-Up, in which you “Draw shapes, letters, numbers, words or math problems on sticky notes and hide them around the house for your child to find.” Then have them match up the notes to a “key” you have hung on the wall as a cross-reference. For example, maybe you post short words in large print that need a missing letter filled in using the letters on sticky note.

One thing is for certain even in uncertain times: It’s part of a child’s “job” to be active. It’s what they do. However, like most everyone these days, the way they do their job needs modifying, and with a little imagination you can help them “work from home” with joy!