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Cathy Piedra-McKenzie
Cathy Piedra-McKenzie

Liven up your child's summer birthday bash with a healthy dose of activity Add to ...

Health Advisor is a regular column where contributors share their knowledge in fields ranging from fitness to psychology, pediatrics to aging. Follow us @Globe_Health.

Welcome to summer birthday season! It’s the time of year when you can balance out that birthday cake with awesome (and energizing) outdoor activities. Encourage kids to embrace and enjoy play early on and it will be more likely to stick with them for years to come. If you’re planning a summer party, try a few of these especially active activities to get the kids moving.

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The Terrific Basket Toss

This game is simple to set up, and can be modified depending on the age range. Grab three baskets of various sizes and plot them out on the yard. Make labels for each one with varying point levels (e.g. 50, 100, 200). Get a few tennis balls, and it’s game time! You can move the baskets closer for the little ones, or farther away for an extra challenge.

Benefits: Concentration, dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination.

What you’ll need: 3 baskets, tennis balls (Ping-Pong balls or bean bags will also work), construction paper to create labels and a notebook to keep score

Twister with a Twist

Recreate everyone’s favourite indoor game while enjoying some fresh air. Pick up a few cans of colourful yard paint, and use a piece of cardboard (such as a pizza box) to cut out a circular stencil. Then spray-paint four rows of circles (one red, one blue, one yellow and one green), and make them as long as you like depending on how many kids are playing. (Give the paint plenty of time to dry before playtime.)

Benefits: Flexibility, balance, hand-eye co-ordination and determination.

What you’ll need: Yard paint, cardboard stencil, utility knife, slips of paper with directions (e.g. right foot blue).

The Big Break: Water Balloons

While Popsicles are great, nothing’s quite as refreshing on a hot summer day as a burst of cold water. Kids will love playing this classic game, in which teams of two toss the balloon back and forth, trying to keep it intact. After each throw, they can take a step back, increasing the level of difficulty. Hint: Fill up extra balloons, so kids can take a few turns, and improve their throwing skills (and confidence).

Benefits: Teamwork, concentration, motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.

What you’ll need: Lots of colourful balloons, water (preferably an outdoor hose so the kids can help fill them up), and a bin to hold them all

Totally on Target

Perfect for older kids, this game helps kids work on their aim. Simply collect a few fun random objects (e.g. a bottle, an apple, a book, a toy), and line them up along a wall. Kids can then try to knock items down by throwing a tennis ball. Hint: If your party has a theme, choose items that relate.

Benefits: Aim, strength, determination and hand-eye co-ordination

What you’ll need: A wall (or a makeshift wall using two buckets and a piece of plywood), tennis balls and random objects

The Playful Potato Drop

Give every kid a potato, and set up bowls at the finish line. The kids will then race, carefully holding the potatoes between their knees. If it falls, they have to start again. The first to successfully drop the potato into a bowl wins.

Benefits: Concentration, co-ordination, speed and discipline.

What you’ll need: Two ropes to mark the start and finish lines, a bag of potatoes (which you can later use for a potato-dye craft project), and bowls or wide-mouth mason jars

If it rains on the little one’s big day, here are a few fun activities to take indoors:

The Awesome Art Station: Grab a big roll of craft paper, markers, glitter and puffy paints and encourage the kids to work together to create a big birthday mural. (This can also be done outdoors with water-soluble paints and sponges.)

Adorable Animal Charades: Write the names of animals on slips of paper, and put them in a bowl. Everyone can take a turn acting out the animal. For an added twist, try the second round without making a sound.

Happy Hopscotch: Create an indoor version of a popular sidewalk game. Use some colourful washi tape (a light adhesive which won’t leave marks).

The Fabulous Freeze Dance Party: Put on everyone’s favourite of-the-moment song, and invite everyone to dance. Pause the music, and whoever doesn’t “freeze” is out until the next round.

Of course, if you’re not the party-planner type, you can always book a bash at your local kids’ organization or community centre. Happy celebrating!

Cathy Piedra-McKenzie is an entrepreneur, busy mother of two, and president of Kidville Canada, where parents and kids can put creativity, fun and family-time first. Visit the flagship location in Toronto’s Yonge Lawrence Village. You can visit her Facebook page at Kidville Canada and follow her on Twitter at @cathy_pmCathy Piedra-McKenzie is an entrepreneur, busy mother of two, and president of Kidville Canada, where parents and kids can put creativity, fun and family-time first. Visit the flagship location in Toronto’s Yonge Lawrence Village. You can visit her Facebook page at Kidville Canada and follow her on Twitter at @cathy_pm

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