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22 Interesting Non Tech Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer

22 Interesting Non Tech Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer

If you think that your kids might be spending too much time in front of a screen, then you are absolutely right.

Our daily lives have become digital. We work on computers, keep our phones on us all the time and come home to relax in front of the TV. Even our cars and our coffee machines are digital.

But that doesn’t mean it’s good for us, and sitting in front of a screen all day definitely isn’t good for our children. In fact, spending too much time in front of a screen can not only make kids gain weight, studies show that it also makes them sad, sleep poorly and develop concentration issues.

It’s really important to your child’s health, development and their relationship with you (and ultimately to other people in the outside world) that you spend time with them, doing non-tech, screen-free activities.

But what can you do with your kid that is screen-free? Parents often find it challenging to think of interesting non-tech activities to do with their kids. So here are 22 ideas to get you started:

1. Cook a meal together.

Even if it is something really simple, get the kids to do jobs like grate cheese or stir a pot (older children).

They love shaping meat balls and beating up eggs too. Children of all ages love to be part of the dinner making process and it is a great way to bond with your kids while you’re busy, and, most importantly, it keeps them away from the TV / PC / video game. (No they may not grate cheese in front of the TV).

2. Go on a neighborhood adventure.

Whether you live in the city or out in the sticks, nothing could be simpler (or less expensive) than walking around your neighborhood together.

My kids and I like to make up stories about people and places that we see while we walk along. It’s good exercise and it makes them more aware of their surroundings. Your teens might need a bit more convincing to get them going, but all children enjoy getting out and about.

Younger children love to stop and look at things (leaves, bugs, anything) for what may seem like ages. That’s fine. Their brains are processing and exploring the real world. Let them take their time.

3. Make play dough.

Probably the easiest thing in the world you can make with your kids is play dough. Simply combine in a saucepan:

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2 Cups flour
1 Cup salt
2 Cups water
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 Tablespoons Cream of Tatar
2 Tablespoons food coloring of your choice

Cook them all together until it pulls away from the sides of the pot in a ball. Remove from heat and allow to cool, kneading it occasionally.

For different colors, wait until after the dough is cool before adding the color. Then kneed in different colors to different sections. Kids love to play with dough, even if you don’t have cookie cutters.

4. Get a trampoline.

Trampolines can be an enormous load of fun and a great way to get your kids outdoors. They are also a good way to expend some of your kids’ limitless energy.

Just remember to focus on safety – read trampoline reviews carefully and note important details, such as whether it comes with an enclosure, the recommended weight limit, and the maximum bounce height.

5. Make a pavement Twister-board.

You don’t even need to own a regular Twister-board to play the game (although the ready-made spinner is useful).

Buy sidewalk chalk in four different colors (it’s really inexpensive) and find an old bucket lid or CD to trace around. Draw different color circles like a regular twister board on the sidewalk, the rood of your building or anywhere that you can hose off later. The kids will love the novelty of playing somewhere different and love that you are spending time being silly with them.

6. Build a jig saw puzzle together.

Depending on the age of your kids, you might do a 100 piece puzzle together, start a 1000 piece puzzle that keeps your quiet time busy for three days, or do five 12 piece puzzles in an hour. Puzzle building is great for fine motor development as well as developing visual closure.

7. Do a science experiment.

Kids love nothing better than things that blow up (as do Dads, so maybe this is a great activity for him to do with the kids). You will need an empty 2 liter soda bottle, a liter of vinegar, a packet of baking soda, a cork, a long screw and a piece of board.

First up you want to create your launch pad: work the screw through the piece of board or plank so that about an inch sticks out the other side. Now twist the cork onto the screw. You have your launch pad.

Next check that the cork fits snugly into the neck of the soda bottle, but is still loose enough to pop off easily in an “explosion.”
Now pour the vinegar into the bottle.

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You have to act quite fast for the last bit: pop the baking soda packet (it should be paper, otherwise wrap it in tissue) into the vinegar and quickly put cork into the bottle. Turnover and stand back.

When the baking soda and vinegar mix the soda bottle will pop right off the cork and fly several meters into the air.

Note: this is strictly an outdoor activity!

8. Eat a meal by candle light.

All meals should be family meals, eaten away from the TV with phones turned off. If your family will start a riot over this idea, then introduce “candle lit dinner” night.

The organic light source somehow makes it easier to have a conversation and connect to the people who are eating together.

It also creates a sense of occasion, and kids are likely to remember the special evenings spent with your full attention in a magical setting.

9. Make a water table.

You don’t need any fancy equipment for this fun summer activity. Just take out a couple of bowls, containers and jugs (preferably plastic or enamel) and fill them with water.

Make some jugs of water blue, some red and some yellow. Then find a variety of objects that float and sink and let kids experiment.

10. Bubble Up.

As with the water table above, you will need a few jugs and bowls of water outside somewhere. Then add some bubble bath (or washing up liquid) to some of the bowls.

Now give each child about half a meter of plastic fish tank piping (you can buy this really cheaply by the meter at most pet stores) and get them to blow bubbles. They will play with them for hours!

11. Make a fire.

If you don’t have your own back yard then you will have to take the kids somewhere that you can safely build an outdoor fire.

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Get the kids to scrunch balls of old newspaper to start it with and help you break up twigs for kindling and build a fire. Then sit around and roast marshmallows, tell stories and maybe even watch the stars come out.

12. Make your paper double.

Sticky tape pieces of newspaper together until you have a piece of paper the size of each person present. Then get them to lie down and trace around them with a magic marker so that you have an exact tracing of each child. Then get them to trace you

Help them cut out their double and tack it up so that you can fill yourselves in with paint, markers and crayons. This isn’t going to produce master pieces but they will have a lot of fun.

13. Bake cookies from scratch!

This is much easier to do than you think and kids of all ages love it! Here are some awesome easy cookie recipes.

If the kids get bored waiting for them to bake, let them help you wash up! Then they can decorate brown paper bags to keep the cookies in.

14. Give them chores!

Yes, we really are suggesting that your child be involved in keeping the house clean. Not only is it really good for them to get into the habit of taking responsibility for themselves, many of them actually get a sense of satisfaction out of contributing to the household.

Get them the proper gear – the best vacuum cleaner or hand vacuum, gloves, uniforms, whatever it is that gets them motivated. Give age appropriate jobs; a four year old can help pick up four teddy bears or pack up his cars. He can’t wash the dishes.

Give plenty of praise for jobs well done. Even teens secretly love being thanked and recognized when they have been helpful.

15. Read a book.

Read to your small children as often as you can. They love it. They love to hear your voice, they love to spend time with you and they love stories. Encourage older children to read too. Take them to the library to choose their own books. Make sure that your kids see you enjoying a good book from time to time too. You need to lead by example. A child who reads will be an adult who thinks!

16. Draw silly pictures.

One of the things that puts older children off to drawing is the feeling that they need to produce brilliant work. A wonderful activity is to draw intentionally silly pictures. Give each person a page folded over lengthways into four sections.

Without looking at each other’s drawings each person draws a head and neck, folding the paper over so that only the bottom of the neck sticks out. Then everyone swops papers and draws a midriff. Repeat the process until the whole body has been drawn. Then unfold your papers to reveal the silly pictures.

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17. Make peashooters and have a peashooter war.

If the idea of having tiny blobs of paper flying around your head doesn’t appeal to you, then make a target and score points for hitting it.

18. Oh go fly a kite!

Flying a kite on a windy day is something that every child should do with their parents. You can make your own, or if you really feel you lack the ability to make a flyable kite, buy a cheap one. Either way your kids will have a blast in the great outdoors.

19. Get them to volunteer.

Older kids and teens can get a lot of value out of helping others. It teaches them about community and caring for others without the familiar complaints about doing things for home.

Old age homes always need help. Whether it’s reading to someone who can’t see any more or painting the old ladies toe nails you can be sure they will appreciate the help.

Animal shelters, soup kitchens and children’s homes also always need a hand. Discuss it with your child first to see what they feel they would like to get involved with, and then pay a visit to the establishment yourself to make sure that everything is above board.

20. Build a fort!

Every child loves a fort. You can make a tent out of sheets draped over the back of the sofa or create a HQ out of an old fridge box (check to see if your local furniture shop is throwing them out) or you can get really creative and make your child their own tepee or tree house (calling Dad). Whatever kind of fort you make, the kids will love to play in it, read in it, hide in it and just hang out in it.

21. Put on a magic show.

Older kids love learning card tricks. This is one activity you may need to make a slight screen exception for, because the easiest way to learn card tricks is watch a few videos.

However, once the videos are watched, turn the computer off again and get them to go and practice. Then, either let them put on a show for you or help them put on a show for grandma, dad, or someone else.

Remember to be suitably amazed and surprised by their genius.

22. Play a family board game.

Last but not least, there is always the timeless classics. If you don’t own any board games, you can sometimes borrow them from the library.

Kids love board games. They engage the whole family and are usually loads of fun (although you might want to avoid letting siblings sit next to each other).

Card games work just as well and cards are fairly inexpensive to buy.

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.imgix.net

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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