Encourage kids to be active by providing active toys, games, and sports equipment
that motivate them to move. As you shop for kids' birthday or holiday gifts, make physical activity a priority. Keep them equipped with the latest gear for their favorite sports, stock their bookshelves with athletes' biographies and how-tos, and consider these cool games and toys too. Some are brand-new, and others are older but may be new to your household. Have fun!
Do you track your child's active playtime? This motivator takes you off timesheet duty. Your child wears the Zamzee meter on a belt loop or shoelace, or slips it into her pocket. After some active play, she can plug it into your computer's USB port and upload its data to earn points, badges, and both online and offline rewards. She can also plug in the Zamzee before play to sign up for an active challenge.
A similar product is GeoPalz (compare prices), a kids' pedometer that also offers online tracking and rewards.
R & R Games
Remember the classic "hot and cold" seek-and-find game? R&R Games has given that old favorite an electronic makeover and a safari theme too. Hide a toy animal (the game comes in tiger, monkey, and other versions), then turn on the Seeker wand. Its lights and sounds tell you if you're getting close to your quarry--or need to keep hunting.
If you have a kid who can't get enough hoops, consider replacing your flimsy indoor basketball hoop with this more durable over-the-door version. It looks just like the real deal and its spring-action "break-away" steel rim can even handle dunks. Comes with a mini basketball (5" diameter).
If you're OK with weapon play (this one really looks like a machine gun, aside from the bright colors), a blaster battle will definitely get your kid running and playing actively! Kids will want this toy for its fully automatic clip system and removable shield.
Adapted from equipment used by physical therapists, maze balance boards are deceptively challenging. Kids must use their legs and feet to maneuver balls through a maze as they balance upright. Sturdy enough for adults to use too! Or, look into the Spooner Freestyle (compare prices) for a balance board inspired by extreme sports. An electronic version of the balance board is Diggin Active's Wobble Deck (compare prices).
Marky Sparky Toys
Launch a rocket to the moon with a stomp of the foot! Attach a specially designed "missile" to the telescoping launch tube, then take a flying leap onto the blast pad to send the rocket aloft. Parents will be glad to know the missiles can only shoot straight up into the sky—not toward pets or siblings. Plus, all the parts fit together into the toy's base for easy clean-up and storage (once your missiles come back to earth, that is).
Bravo! This souped-up, spruced-up twist on the Italian classic game of bocce
is fun for the whole famiglia
. Toss out the 12-sided foam target and then try to land your ball and hoop as close to it as possible. A scorekeeper worn on your wrist gives you a different throwing challenge every round.
Ready, set, challenge! This set of 52 active family challenges comes packed inside a big red whistle, and makes a great, inexpensive gift. Challenges are creative and unexpected, get everyone moving, and use only simple household items. This game is also available in a deluxe version with more challenges and an electronic timer.
Monkey Business Sports
This soft foam pogo-style bouncer can support up to 250 pounds and is recommended for kids 5 and up. Just step on, grab the tethered handle, and start jumping! Use the Bungee Jumper indoors or out, and even to practice skateboarding tricks. The rebound foam is durable and slip-resistant, and won't mark up your floors.
Clever sidewalk-chalk courses encourage kids to add fitness moves to outdoor play. This book includes instructions for 15 courses you can use right away, then alter, adapt, and re-use over time. Each course incorporates fun moves such as windmill toe touches, butterfly kicks, and downhill skiing-style jumps (plus instructions for these moves too).