Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Make the Most of Fall: Explore the Great Outdoors with Your Kids

With all the tablet, smartphone, and laptop screens that are trying to take over our children's lives, it can be difficult to get them interested in the outdoors. This is especially true in Autumn when the weather starts to cool off and the daylight starts to lessen. Autumn, however, is one of the best times of the year to get out and explore.


While it may seem easy to stay indoors and hibernate until spring returns, staying active—both physically and mentally—can be just as easy. Getting kids outside and interested in their surroundings is paramount to a fun-filled childhood. And just a few minutes of planning can go a long way towards creating lifelong memories. As the Fall weather gets a bit chillier, grab a coat and a scarf and take your kids on an outdoor adventure!

girl-669604_640.jpgScavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are a simple activity that you and your child can enjoy together. Walk through your local park as you locate specific birds or discover different trees that you may have never known existed in your area. Search for the prettiest rock and discover its mineral makeup together. Gather a leaf of every variety. There are plenty of possibilities.

Geocaching is an activity on the rise. Hiking is a great outdoor activity to do in cooler weather because it gets your blood pumping. Following directions to specific coordinates will teach your children about maps and how to navigate with them, even in your own neighborhood. While it is common to bring a trinket to exchange when you find your cache, discovering the hidden goodies can be just as fun.

Bonfires and Star Gazing
Here is an opportunity for your kids to put their smart devices to good use; there are plenty of apps that will help you map your way through the stars. Sky Map is an open source application for your smartphone that uses your location settings to determine the current position of the constellations that are viewable in your location. Look up the origins of the constellations and tell their stories around the fire. Bonfires might be fun in the summer, but the warming effects of a bonfire coupled with a mug of hot chocolate on a crisp Fall night are downright magical.


Visit A Pumpkin Patch or Apple Orchard
With Halloween around the corner, walk through a pumpkin patch together in search of the perfect pumpkin to bring home for carving. After the Jack-O-Lanterns adorn the front steps, find your favorite recipe and bake a fresh pie or pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack.

Apple Orchards, Likewise, are just as fun. You’ll have even more delicious ingredients to make Fall snacks, and you can spend an afternoon in a beautiful orchard finding them and picking them with your kids. Take the opportunity to learn about the different species of apples that grow in your area and how their flavors differ.

Remember, while cozy blankets are good for sitting on the couch and watching movies, they are just as useful when your venture into the great outdoors. Get out and about and explore the great outdoors this Fall.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Family Fun for Labor Day

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Labor day is a holiday held on the first Monday of September and celebrates the working class. Labor day weekend is, for many, the last big hurrah of summer. Fall is on its way, school begins again, and there is less time to spend outdoors before the winter hits. To make the most of your labor day weekend, we’ve compiled a list of fun activities for you and your family:

Visit the Park
The U.S. has some absolutely beautiful state and local parks. Discover a location nearby that you have never visited, or take a trek to a nearby state. Plan a weekend-long trip or take an afternoon walk up the street to your neighborhood park. Summertime is littered with hiking, biking and having fun outdoors and a park is a perfect place to squeeze in some last minute fun.

Outdoor Staycation
Combine everything that summer means to your and your family into one night from the convenience of your backyard. Catch fire bugs, build a bonfire and roast s'mores, sleep in a tent, and watch the stars. Teach your kids about the constellations and where their names came from or make up your own!

Catch a Baseball Game
Nothing says summer like an outdoor baseball game. Encompass all that is summer in one afternoon by taking in a day at the ballpark. Check your local ticket provider for last-minute seats, or attend a local minor league or summer league game. Don’t forget the peanuts and cracker jacks!

Play Games Together
Nothing brings families together like a good old-fashioned family game night. Take the old favorites down from the closet, or start a new family tradition with minute-to-win-it games or lawn games like bean bags, giant Jenga, or yard dominos.

Host a Water balloon fight
Gather your family and friends and host an all-out battle royale water balloon fight! Since summer is winding down, now is the best time to have one last splashy bash and use up your aquatic supplies from the summer. If you don’t have any left, check out this cool idea for DIY Sponge balls.

Summer might be coming to an end, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate Labor Day weekend with your family. What are your favorite Labor Day activities? Comment below!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer Sunscreen Safety For Kids

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In Minnesota, August is one of, if the hottest month of the year. It also happens to  be the last month of freedom for many kids before they head back to school, which means kids all over the state are cramming in as much fun as possible.

Many parents know that one of the most important things to protect your child from the summer elements is sunscreen. Recently, though, there has been some controversy around using sunscreen, which kinds of sunscreen to use, and how often is safe to use it. We know that your kids are important, and seemingly obvious habits - such as using sunscreen- can be questioned with a few internet posts. Let’s go over a few facts about sunscreen for kids, to clarify the subject:

What’s the difference between SPF’s?

SPF - or sun protection factor- is the approximate measurement that a sunscreen will protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Although a higher SPF might seem to protect one better from the elements, it is important to take in mind is how well you apply the sunscreen, how often you are applying it, which types of rays the sunscreen block, and other elemental factors.

High SPF products are not always the best. They tend to lull the wearer into a false sense of security, preventing them from reapplying sunscreen when they need to. They also contain higher concentrations of the sun-filtering chemicals, and can be irritating to small children.

There is more than one type of UV ray

There are actually three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC rays are filtered out by the earth’s ozone, so don’t be concerned if your sunscreen doesn’t list UVC on the bottle. None of them do. UVB rays are the most harmful; sunscreen will protect you from UVB rays, but not all of them protect against UVA rays. UVA rays cause skin to tan. Although alluring to many, tanned skin is actually a sign of genetic mutation, and can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and certain skin cancers. When choosing a sunscreen for kids, pick one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.


How often to apply

This can vary from brand to brand. Be sure to read the instructions on your chosen brand of sunscreen. It also depends if your child is playing in direct sunlight at the sun’s peak time of day (10 AM to 4PM) or in the shade in the early morning or late afternoon. A good rule of thumb for reapplying sunscreen is every two to four hours, depending on the wearer’s activities.

When to reapply:

The location and time of day in which your children are outside will play a big role as well. If your child is more active during hotter times of day, he or she will sweat more, and if your sunscreen is not waterproof, you will need to reapply more often. Likewise, if your child in playing in or around the water (as most kids do in the summer) it is a good idea to reapply often.

But, what about that scary post I read on the internet? Is sunscreen harming my child?

This year, there have been reports circling the internet that sunscreen is bad for children. One of these reports is about the chemical Oxybenzone in some sunscreens, and how it can be a hormone disruptor in children. Simply put, the data is simply not there. A study often cited used rats - not humans- as participants, and these rats ingested shockingly large amounts of the chemical that would not be present in sunscreens. As common sense would tell us, large amounts of any chemical- beneficial or not- could be potentially hazardous. If you have questions, ask your doctor, not the internet.

Other posts and images on the internet are simply instances of sunscreen misuse and are examples of how not to apply or choose a sunscreen. Some are not best suited for children, but sunscreen, on the whole, is important to protect children from the damaging rays of the sun.

If you come across any of these if the post, ask yourself a few questions: Is the post promoting or selling a sunscreen that is “safer” than conventional sunscreen? Is the research backed up by scientific data or just opinions? You might find that you want to do a little more research when reading these posts.

So, what is the best way to protect your kids?

  • Question what you read on the internet. Do your research. The sun’s rays can cause cancer - this is known and proven time and again. Other sunscreen speculation is often just that - speculation.

  • Use a sunscreen between SPF 30 and 50. Higher SPF’s can seem tempting and more protective, but higher SPF’s can overwhelm a child’s sensitive skin.

  • Reapply every 2-4 hours as needed. As adults, we often find ourselves in awe of how much energy our children have. Encourage them to take a break every now and then to reapply their sunscreen (and maybe drink some water).

  • If your child is having issues with their sunscreen, don’t take to the internet—ask your doctor. If your child has continuing issues with sunscreen, it may be that your child is allergic to a chemical in that particular brand and need to switch to using something else.

A parent’s issues with sunscreen often stem from other underlying factors; an unknown allergy, misuse, the wrong SPF rating, longer than expected exposure time—there are many factors. The one fact that remains is that kids love to play outside and need to be protected from the sun. Help your children enjoy the last month of summer the right way: protected from harmful rays and sunburn-free.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Fitness Activities for Your Family

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Are you trying to keep your family active and healthy, but don’t have time for the gym? You can still be fit and have a great workout without the treadmill and dumbbells. Exercise can not only be beneficial to your family’s health but also serve as quality bonding time! Dedicate one hour of fitness-related activities each day to keep your family in shape. Let these creative fitness ideas turn your family into a happy and healthy family!

Do a Dance Off!
Hold a family dance-off! Each member of the family gets one song to show off their dance skills. Pick upbeat tracks that get you and your family moving! Your can do this for 20-30 minutes each day and pick a daily champion - Maybe even allocate prizes to the best booty-shaker of the day!

Utilize Commercials
Does your family seem to be watching too much TV? Many families have a certain TV show or televised sport they watch together. Next time you are enjoying yours, get up and move around during the commercials. You can do exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, and jumping jacks in your living room. You can also change the name of these workouts to make them sound more fun to your kids. You can also put a different family member in charge to give the activities orders or play a quick round of Simon Says. This will keep the kids interested in these commercial break workouts.

Start a Sports Night
Pick a night out of the week that you have the most free time in your weekly schedule and have a sports night! There are a ton of sports you can play that double as a workout. You can play soccer, kickball, football and much more. You can also organize with your neighborhood to get other kids to join in the fun!
Hold a Hula-hoop Contest
Once a week, have a “longest Hula-Hooper” contest. Hula hooping is a great way to get the kids moving all their muscles, working on their coordination, and participation in a good cardio workout. Use a whiteboard or something similar to keep a weekly log or stat of all the family members.The longest hooper of the week will be crowned the king or queen of that week! Leaving the scores of the contest up will have your kids practicing on their own so they can take the crown for the next week.
These activities are short, sweet and super fun. You can get your family in great shape and share quality time with them. Try new activities each week that get your family moving! Check our Facebook page for more ideas, or follow us on Twitter. We hope you enjoyed these fitness ideas, now go get your family moving!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Four Theme Ideas for Color Run Teams

Color-A-Thon runs are filled with color, laughter, and so much fun! With the explosion of color-a-thon runs, it can be a lot of fun to choose a theme for your team to dress up. When your team matches, you will really stand out and add to the fun!

1. Dr. Suess Characters
1024px-USMC-120228-M-IY869-257.jpgThing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat are always a hit! They are famous for their crazy blue hair and red costumes. You can do this with just two people, or create a whole clan of “Things.” Choose a general Dr. Seuss theme and your team could be comprised of a variety of colorful characters! Your theme is sure to stand out from the crowd!

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera via Wikimedia Commons

2. Disney Princesses
Calling all Disney lovers! This theme is perfect for a big team since there are so many princesses to choose from. Since each princess wears a different color, it will be fun to see what the dresses look like after a color run! For a fresh spin, instead of dressing like your favorite princess, dress up as your favorite Disney villain!

3. 101 Dalmatians
This theme is perfect for a color run. Since this theme is mostly white, the colors will really show up well. You can even go as far as painting your face white, then see how it changes after all the color.

4. Superheros
4428756032_e60f409f00_z.jpgWho doesn’t want to dress up as their favorite superhero? Now is your chance! All you need to do is have everyone in your group choose a different superhero character and you will surely conquer the run! Gather your masks (which are sure to make some cool patterns!) and capes to match your favorite superhero, or make up your own!

Photo by JD Hancock via Flickr

Whichever theme you choose, your Color-A-Thon will surely be a blast! Now, get your team together and start planning! Do you have a favorite team theme? Comment below!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

5 Ways to Get Your Kids Active

An active and healthy lifestyle is not just for adults. In fact, kids need to be active just as much as their bigger counterparts. Being active as a kid sets the stage for a healthy lifestyle early on, making it much easier to continue throughout life. Encouraging your kids to be more active can be difficult at times, but when you get creative it becomes much more fun!

1. Tag, you’re it!

With warmer weather, outdoor activities are now an easier option. You can engage in games as simple as the classic tag, you can choose one of the many variations of tag, or make up your own. This will not only get your kids active, but you as well.


2. Don’t Touch the Lava!

You may have called it something else when you were young, but nearly every kid has played some variation of the game don’t touch the lava. This game can be played  just about anywhere, as long as it involves jumping from one thing to the next while not touching the ground. Your kids will use their balancing skills as well as concentration, all while jumping around and burning energy.

3. Yoga for the Kiddos

Yoga is trending for all ages. Moving through multiple challenging poses promotes creativity and confidence. Yoga also gives your children both mental and physical health benefits. It helps teach your kids relaxation to aid in managing stress at a young age.

4. Let’s go Fly a Kite

Flying kites is a traditional, fun activity. It allows your kids to use their imagination while running their kite through the wind. Plus, there are many varieties of shapes, animals and characters to choose. Buy them one featuring their favorite character, or help them to try their hand at creating their own!


5. Nature Walk

Nature walks can be fun and relaxing for people of all ages, especially kids. It gets you and your kids out and about while searching for wildlife. Bring a nature book along so your kids can point out when they see a specific creature or plant - learning and exercise at once? Yes, please!

Adding extra physical activity into your kids’ lives will benefit them for years to come. Plus, these activities are great opportunities for building your relationship with your kids!

If you and your kids are interested getting active through a Color-A-Thon run this summer, visit School-A-Thon on our website for more information.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How To Prepare For A Race

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As the weather gets warmer, it is time to start enjoying the outdoors again! Fundraising organizations across the nation are already planning spring and summer events - the most popular being a 3K or a 5K. Color runs, especially, have become very popular in the last few years and are a successful way to raise money. Participants vary in experience and often times have never participated in a running event before. Thankfully, that doesn’t stop those of us who just want to help! If you’ve decided to take part in a 3K or 5K fundraiser, check out the tips below to get you started:

boy sign.jpgRegister
There are a variety of different races that have their own format, including donation-based and fee-based runs. To begin, register with the organization setting up the event because there are many ways to enter and many ways to show your support. Fundraising runs not only help you with your fitness goals but also help the community at large.

Get the right equipment
It is important to find the right type of running equipment to make your race a success. Visiting a local running specialty store can help you with a professional fitting, as well as other accessories that will help make your race a triumph.

Make a plan
Making a plan requires creating a training program that best fits your level of fitness. Beginners should start off with walking then work their way up to running and walking intervals. The eventual goal should is to be able to run without stopping. Make sure to listen to your body and find a pace that fits your abilities.

Begin training
Start your training one step at a time. Make sure to do a proper warm-up of one to three minutes before your run and always stay hydrated before and after. Most newbie runners make the mistake of running too much too soon, which leads to injury and discouragement. A little progress goes a long way. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Breathing is extremely important when running. It is best to breathe through both your mouth and your nose to help your working muscles. Breathing in every two to four steps and out every two to four steps will help train your body to have an effective breathing pattern.

The body grows stronger at rest after a run. Do not push yourself to run if you feel your body isn’t ready. Your body will tell you when it is ready. What you can do during your recovery periods is get a good amount of sleep and eat well-balanced meals. And, of course, stay hydrated.

You now have the tools you need to successfully complete a run. Now it is up to you to challenge yourself and start your 3K, 5K, or other running adventure. Visit to learn more about hosting your own fundraiser.