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  • 50 At Home Activities to do with Kids

    Are you stuck in the house and have no idea how to keep your kid entertained? Well have no fear, the Ninjas are here with 50 activities to do at home. And of course, you can tweak these ideas to make them your own and fit your needs! So, take these activities and start having some fun at home! Have a scavenger hunt Blow bubbles Decorate a picture frame Play hide and seek Wash the car Start a garden Tie-dye a Tshirt Camp out in the backyard Have an egg-toss Build a couch fort Have a dance party Make a homemade pizza Write a story Film your own action movie Make your own puzzle Put together a puzzle Make paper airplanes and race them Cloud watch Make your own slime Make a bird feeder Have a water balloon fight Make a house out of cardboard boxes Make popsicles Draw chalk murals in the driveway Bake some cupcakes Decorate cookies Play some board games Try to learn some magic tricks Act like the floor is lava Make a friendship bracelet Put up a lemonade stand Learn origami Learn how to hula hoop Act out a book Play dress up Try different foods Have a movie night Create cards for family and friends Write a song Design and create bookmarks Make sock puppets Create a secret language Make a paper chain Make your own coloring pages Make shadow puppets Read Minute Mysteries Play charades Have a picnic in the backyard Make boats out of paper and see if they can float Go and dance in the rain!

  • 5 Signs of Dehydration

    Water! It is so important for us but we sometimes forget to drink it regularly. If we aren’t careful, we can become dehydrated and suffer from some unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms can range from headaches to having a feeling of hunger. Dehydration can be hard to catch but we have provided 5 signs of dehydration to look for! Know the Signs!

  • 5 Summer Safety Tips

    Sun’s out fun’s out! It’s summer time and the outdoors are calling your name. Summer is the perfect time to go out and play! But before you head out here are 5 safety tips to beat the heat!

  • 3 Easy Recipes for Kid’s Energy

    It’s summer time and kids are going to be burning off their energy with bike rides, water play, and loads of other activities! Having fun during the summer is a must! Being fueled by the right food will help them enjoy their time out and about! To get your kids ready why not fuel them up with some energy bites!? These energy bite recipes are super easy to make, don’t require any cooking, and can be modified to fit your kid’s personal taste! Here are three of my personal favorites! Recipes Cranberry Almond Energy Bites 1 cup of dry oatmeal 1/2 cup of ground flax seeds 1/2 cup of peanut butter (or almond butter, sunflower seed butter, etc.) 1/3 cup of agave nectar (can be substituted with honey or maple syrup) 1/3 cup of dried cranberries, roughly chopped 1/3 cup of almonds, chopped Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites 1 cup of dry oatmeal 1/2 cup of ground flax seeds 1/2 cup of peanut butter (or almond butter, sunflower seed butter, etc.) 1/3 cup of agave nectar (can be substituted with honey or maple syrup) 1/3 cup of chocolate chips Coconut Chocolate Chip Energy Bites 1 cup of dry oatmeal 1/2 cup of ground flax seeds 1/2 cup of peanut butter (or almond butter, sunflower seed butter, etc.) 1/3 cup of agave nectar (can be substituted with honey or maple syrup) 1/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips 1/3 cup of unsweetened coconut, shredded Preparation After you have chosen your energy bite variation simply mix all the ingredients in a medium size bowl. Once mixed, place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then, take the mix out and begin rolling into small bite sized balls. The recipe should yield 16-18 energy bites! Enjoy! These are just three of my favorite energy bite variations. Feel free to mix things up or substitute out different ingredients in the recipes! Also, these are easy recipes to try with your kids. Energy bites are a healthy and tasty way to fuel your children for the summer!

  • Let Them Lose

    I don’t like losing. I mean, no one likes losing, but I find it a particularly hard pill to swallow. I always have. Do you know how every person has that one story about themselves that is told so frequently that it becomes a part of the family myth? You know the one. The story that is told to your close friends, to the first real boyfriend you bring home, even retold to your children. Mine is about losing at Candy Land. One infamous night in the late eighties my family gathered around our kitchen table for a spirited game night. Most likely I chose the red gingerbread and set my sights firmly on Candy Castle by way of Gumdrop pass. But that fateful night I did not emerge victorious. I lost, and then I proceeded to throw that board game across the room, launching Lord Licorice and Princess Lolly through the air, and landing myself in timeout with a very stern talk about “gracious losers” on the horizon. I remember that night pretty distinctly, not only because I have heard the retelling more times than I wish to count, but also because I truly remember the pain (and embarrassment) I felt when I realized I was not going to win. As a parent I have a newfound perspective and appreciation for the situation. First of all, it is not easy to see your children lose. It’s not really ease to see anyone lose. Have you seen the closeups of professional athletes when they don’t win, on their knees, hands covering their faces for all the world to see? It’s brutal. There’s something about grown men in uniforms crying that makes me weep. Want to add more emotion? Turn those grown men into sweet, hopeful, and vulnerable children who really, really want to win the big game, and just keep the Kleenex coming. But guess what? The losing doesn’t stop. We lose games, contests, friendships, family members. It’s a lesson we need to learn because life is going to be full of losing, even for those lucky few who seem to catch all the breaks. Chances are, we will lose more than we will win in this game of life. It sounds harsh, I know, but it’s true. So, let’s lose around people we love who won’t disown us when we throw board games and who will know just what to say when being a runner up feels like just about the worst thing ever. My Dad didn’t let me win. Not that night in Candy Land when an impending meltdown was probably very apparent to him, not ever. My Mom thought he should. Sometimes I wish he had. But now, I am so glad he didn’t. To be completely candid, I’m pretty sure I inherited my competitive streak from my Dad, so I’m not sure if he was motivated by good parenting or simply didn’t want to lose himself, but nevertheless I am glad he gave me lots of practice losing. He let me sulk (momentarily), and then he challenged me to a rematch. In another life I was a teacher and coach, and I saw many parents try very hard to shield their children from disappointment, to try to avoid losing. At the time, childless myself, I underestimated the primal instinct to protect and certainly didn’t understand the secondhand pain of watching a person you created suffer disappointment, but I also witnessed the entitlement and the complete unpreparedness for life that comes with not learning how to lose and lose graciously. My daughter, a spirited and dare I say competitive four-year-old, played in her first soccer league this past summer. I was taken aback by how hard it was for me to watch her falter and sometimes fall. For now, I think it’s still harder for me when she “loses” because she didn’t seem to care much about the eight unanswered points scored against her team as long as she had some “good snacks” for which to look forward at halftime. But I have a feeling she will have her own Candy Land moment at some point, and I can only hope when that day arrives that I will have the grace and patience to let her lose and then help her pick up the pieces.

  • 5 Results of Ninjas Living Outside of the Box

    From a young age, we are told by society how life should be lived. It all becomes monotonous, dull, and interesting. But, what if there were something to help break the cycle of living in a predetermined box? What if from a young age, kids could explore more than what society tells them they can? To live outside the box means to go against the flow. Standard rules, practices, and ways of thinking do not hold you back! NinjaZone believes that a child’s energy to grow and explore should not be shut down but rather allowed to flourish. Our mission is to turn energy into ambition one awesome kid at a time! Here are 5 great outcomes of allowing them to live outside the box! 1. Confidence Cool flips and rolls don’t come without a little bit of rejoicing afterwards. Confidence is built through encouragement from Trainers and peers when they accomplish a new skill. The no I can’t turns into a yes I can. 2. Creativity How can we get from point A to point B? Whether it’s scaling the sides of walls or flipping over obstacles, the curriculum that we use shows that there is always more than one to get somewhere. Problem-solving is built and creativity is sparked! 3. Pushing themselves to the “limit” Now, within the realm of also being safe, Ninjas can push themselves to the limits. Their bodies can do so much more than we give them credit for! Back flips, handstands, Ninja rolls, and so much more! 4. Courage It takes incredible courage to do all the skills they are taught. Attempting any new flip can be very intimidating and scary. But once they attempt and accomplish that flip or whatever new skill they have so much more courage to take on the next new skill! 5. Freedom NinjaZone has so much to offer! And it allows your Ninja’s to reach their full potential. They are given freedom to try new things be all that they can be! It can be very easy to fall into the rules and structures that society has set for us. NinjaZone wants to break that pattern by turning energy into ambition one awesome kid at a time.

  • Positive Body Imaging: Why You Should Educate Your Kids Early

    When you think of your own body, what comes to mind? How do you feel when you look in the mirror? How do you feel when you see pictures of attractive people in magazines, on TV, or online? What do you think other people think about how you look? Do you often feel critical about the way you look? How do you usually reply when people compliment how you look? Can you list your three favorite things about your body? Do you often feel jealous of other people for the way they look? If your thoughts aren’t always positive, you’re not alone. Glamour Magazine surveyed over 300 random women, finding that women have an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day. Even more surprising? 97 percent of women admitted to having at least one negative thought per day about their bodies (Dreisbach, 2011). Certainly, this isn’t “okay,” though it may seem normal. And unfortunately, your personal body image concerns could be affecting more than just you. A recent study found that young children are developing body image- positive or negative- much earlier than most parents believe. Author Janet Liechty says that children aren’t immune to body-image awareness: “Aspects of body-related self-concept such as healthy sexuality, body confidence, body acceptance and early signs of body size preference are all influenced by family socialization processes beginning as early as preschool” (Leichty, Birky, Clarke, & Harrison, 2016, para. 4). Of 30 parents of preschoolers ages two to four, a majority of the parents mentioned in an interview that they believed their kids were too young to be concerned about body image. However, 40 percent of the same parents described at least one occurrence in which their child showed some body-related behavior, like talking about weight, imitating comments about size or weight, or seeking praise for their appearance (Leichty, Birky, Clarke, & Harrison, 2016). Another study at the University of Central Florida found that nearly half of three- to six-year old girls were worried about being “fat.” A third of the children said that they wanted to change something about their bodies (Tatnleff-Dunn & Hayes,2009). While these results might be surprising and disheartening, such research can be to your benefit. Awareness of these feelings and thoughts gives you an opportunity to foster body confidence and acceptance in young kids. An interviewee in Liechty’s study says, “As a parent of preschoolers, it was empowering for me to realize that body image is being formed in these early years and to know that I can create a positive environment in my home to help my sons develop positive body image” (Leichty, Birky, Clarke, & Harrison, 2016, para. 4). Besides the harmful psychological results of negative body image in kids (self-consciousness, anxiety, isolation), kids with poor body image are at greater risk for developing eating disorders or gaining excessive weight. But, kids with positive body images are more confident and comfortable, allowing them to thrive and enjoy all of the things they love. How can you make a difference in your child’s body image? Focus on what your child can do. Kids should be confident in their physical capacities.   Bringing the attention to what your child’s body is capable of, rather than focusing on appearance or size, and reinforcing these abilities promotes better body image in kids’ subsequent teen and young adult years. Be proactive. Body image shouldn’t be talked about only if and when you perceive it as a problem. Take advantage of opportunities for fostering a positive body image climate in your household. Build intrinsic validation and self-confidence. Contrary to popular belief, frequent comments about children’s physical appearance can do more harm than good, since kids may start to focus on external validation or become preoccupied with their physical appearance. Develop positive body image in yourself. There are various ways to combat the negative perceptions, often misconceptions, women have of their bodies. For starters, take the same approach as you should encourage with your kids: concentrate on what your body can do rather than how it looks. Still stuck? Appreciate your body. Exercise. Focus on your strengths. Bring the emphasis to health.

  • On My Radar: A Social Media Content Guide

    On My Radar As a self-diagnosed social media and blog junkie, I’m constantly finding content online that I love to share with others. Here is my compilation of some trending fitness, sport, kids, and education topics that I’ve been loving lately! 1. The Cross Fit Open Right now is CrossFit Open season; The Open is a series of workouts spanning over five weeks in which anyone in the world can participate! The goal is “to find the fittest on earth,” and I’m not vying for that title, so for me, it’s a fun and empowering way to challenge myself to do workouts at an intensity and level that I don’t usually do! I registered this year- it cost just $20- and have been completing the workouts as they are released each week. One of my favorite parts of being in on The Open action is keeping up with the media- videos, memes, and more- that is posted in relation to each workout. Maybe it’s something that only CrossFitters completing the WODs can relate to, but I’ve loved the inspiring stories of unexpected athletes competing, and hopefully you will too! 2. SI Kids Website As a teacher-turned-sport management student, I love when my worlds and interests collide. SI Kids is a great website offering current sport event news that is age- and content- appropriate for all ages. I’m all for magazine subscriptions, and most of the content on the website is also featured in Sports Illustrated for Kids, but I love the accessibility of the site. The articles are free, which is a bonus for non-subscribers. I especially enjoyed these articles that are written by “kid reporters,” and the magazine is actually accepting applications now for new kid reporters for the future! 3. Aerie’s Campaign for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week This past week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Aerie, the sub-brand of American Eagle Outfitters, is known for its including of models of all sizes and does not retouch photos of models featured in their ads. Aerie teamed up with the National Eating Disorder Association to lead an inspiring campaign encouraging body positivity. Aerie featured a special t-shirt reading “Strong, Beautiful You,” and all profits from the sale of that particular shirt were donated to the NEDA. 4. Eating Disorder Screenings The university that I work at and attend featured several discussions and sessions for NEDA Week, and the counseling center was also administering free eating disorder screenings. While I don’t think that I’m affected by a disorder, I did the screening just to see and to promote the theme of the week: “It’s time to talk about it.” Eating disorders affect approximately 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States. The mission of the NEDA is to support individuals and families in recovery from these mental and physical illnesses. You can take a free screening online here. 5. Run, Selfie, Repeat Sticking with the theme of loving your body, I’ve been an avid follower of Kelly Roberts’ Run, Selfie, Repeat blog since I started running a few years ago. With a (disclaimer: sometimes crude) sense of humor and spunky attitude, Kelly shines the light on the realties and struggles of running and loving your body. Right now, the blogger is training to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and she posts frequent updates via podcast about her “BQ or Bust” journey.

  • Why You Should Fear Sports Specialization

    If you were in a room with 20 adults, likely at least 10 of them played a sport in high school.   The benefits of sport are plentiful. Sports promote self-esteem, leadership, and relationship building, accountability, and grit, to name a few benefits. Since 1987, when approximately 18 million US youth participated in sport, the number has grown to 60 million in 2008 (Caruso, n.d.). However, as more children are involved in sports, multisport athletes, or those who play multiple sports, are diminishing in number. Sport specialization, rather than sport diversification, is known to lead to minimized interest in any sport or activity, an increased risk for injury, burnout, and irregular growth patterns (Caruso, n.d.). When youth specialize in sport, they often miss out on major gross motor skill development- think running, jumping, throwing, hopping, and hand-eye coordination. “Adolescent bodies are not prepared to be treated like an adult’s body” (Caruso, n.d., para. 18). On the contrary, when youth are diversified in sport (in other words, playing as many sports as often as possible), kids typically are in an environment that nurtures a genuine love for a sport and acquire transferrable sport-related, mental, and physical skills (Caruso, n.d). Still not convinced for sport diversification? Much of the science behind sport diversification comes down to child development. Children who specialize in a sport make up 50 percent of overuse injuries in youth. Kids who limited sport participate to just one sport at a young age are more likely to be inactive as adults and are more likely to be the first to quit. Youth athletes who specialize in a sport are 70 to 93 percent more likely to be injured than kids who play multiple sports. And, early sport specialization leads to a greater risk for burnout due to stress, decreased motivation, or lack of enjoyment (O’Sullivan, 2014). Beyond avoiding the negative effects of sport specialization, the benefits of diversification in activities and sport are well-researched as well. Kids who participate in more than one sport likely have better overall skills and ability because of their better overall motor development and transferrable mental sport skills. Multisport youth athletes are more creative, make better and quicker decisions, and note patterns– all things that benefit their athletic AND non-athletic careers. Thinking that chances of collegiate play will decrease if your child doesn’t specialize? 88 percent of college athletes participated in more than one sport in their childhood (O’Sullivan, 2014). If you’ve followed along with The Ninja Zone for a while, you likely know and understand the goals of the program: to foster discipline, focused energy, and skill in young bodies. The Ninja Zone employs exercises inspired by gymnastics, martial arts, and obstacle training involving tumbling, strength training, agility, and more. Variation is far from lacking and multiple muscle groups and mental and physical skill sets are incorporated in each session. Ultimately, free play and activities that are intrinsically motivating, prioritize fun, and are enjoyable are the way to go… Sounds a lot like the Ninja Zone philosophy! Congratulations: you’ve made a great choice by encouraging these activities for your little ones!

  • On My Radar: Shareable Sports Content for Your Social Feed

    March Madness is undoubtedly one of my favorite times of the year. Regardless of how up-to-date I’ve stayed all season long concerning the top teams and players, I am always excited to watch endless basketball games, fill out a bracket, and fully embrace basketball. But, for and all of you who aren’t basketball geeks like me, this post diversifies. It was a challenge- I seriously could have written pages on March Madness news- so if you want more, check out my last post for the Ninja Zone with March Madness activities for kids and families. 1. NCAA student-athlete commercials I’m a sucker for these commercials. They first started airing several years ago- one of my favorites is “Dumb Jocks” from 2011 (you can watch it here on YouTube). I love hearing the stories behind who the student-athletes are behind-the-scenes, and these commercials always bring that reality. They have so much discipline, determination, and skill in multiple areas that often goes unnoticed. 2. Georgia public schools recess mandate Enough research is published now to support that recess for elementary school kids is a no-brainer. Georgia’s House of Representatives just approved a bill that mandates recess in its public elementary schools for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. If passed by the state’s Senate, the law will require an average of 30 minutes each day for recess or physical activity. The National Association of Sports and Physical Education recommends that kids get 150 minutes per week of physical education or recess, as one of three kids in the US is overweight or obese. Only 21 states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) have legislation in place to require activity breaks for students. 3. The Fitness Marshall I love to work out, but I especially love to do varied, fun, and enjoyable workouts. The Fitness Marshall (aka Caleb Marshall) started in October 2014 and is quite well-known for his hip-hop cardio workout videos. You can stream them for free from his YouTube channel, but he and his “back up booties” are also touring the United States. Boston, Syosset, NY, and St Louis are up next on the list. Plus, he’s from my hometown! 4. Real life Hunger Games? Ever since former Colts player Pat McAfee retired and informed us of his new job with Barstool Sports, I’ve been following the brand and enjoying their content. Last week, they shared this article about the Game2:Winter coming up in Siberia. 30 participants will take place in the “contest,” and they have signed death waivers and liability releases. It sounds pretty crazy and intense and has sparked some major political controversy, naturally. 5. Coach Junior My alma matter recently competed in the NAIA National Championship (March Madness, Christian school edition), but my favorite part about the team and their journey is always the behind-the-scenes entertainment they provide to fans while they contend for a national title. Indiana Wesleyan’s coach Greg Tonagel’s two sons are the stars of the “Coach Jr” YouTube series in which they critique the mistakes and silly moves of their dad’s players. Their takes and youthful perspectives are hilarious and bring lighthearted moments to intense games and pressure-filled seasons. I could watch these guys for hours!

  • 5 Fun Family Activities for March Madness

    We are in the midst of one of my most favorite times of the year: March Madness.  The premier men’s basketball teams from the NCAA are vying for the single spot from which they can be deemed college basketball’s “best.”  After the 64 teams are picked for the tournament on Selection Sunday, you will be able to find, download, and print the tournament brackets from the internet.  Challenge your family to a bracket competition; when I was growing up, the winner got to choose the after-church lunch spot one week.  Even if you know nothing about the game or the teams, the energy and hype that come along with the tournament are not to be left unexperienced.  Here are some fun ways your family can celebrate, even if basketball isn’t your thing. Host a book tournament Study for Common Things blog, written by a former librarian, has a cool idea to incorporate literature into the madness.  In her post here, she talks about a book tournament that she implemented when she worked at a public library.  Each week, kids voted for their favorite between two books (bracket-style), and the winners advanced through the showdown.  Kids were enticed to read the books they had not read yet. You could try this in your home with picture books to keep things short and easy. Create a “bracket” with a reading wish-list (Common Things Blog used the top-16 most circulated children’s books of the year to create her bracket, or check out the Caldecott Award Winners for inspiration).  Then, read two books each night and determine the “winners” that will continue on in your tournament. Foster your map skills After the brackets and contenders are determined, print a United States map.  Challenge your kids to put a stamp or a mark in each state with a team represented in the NCAA Tournament.  They might need to do some research for teams that aren’t obvious location giveaways, but this is a great way for them to explore geography and college campuses, for starters.  It can also spur some fun conversations when you ask questions like, “Which state has the most teams participating?” or “From what part of the US does it seem like most teams come?”  Shelisa from the thinkmagnetkids blog did this and loved the 30 minutes of family time that came with it, and she said it prompted educational and fun conversation for several weeks! Have fun in the kitchen There are endless basketball, game day, and March Madness inspired food ideas out there, but these basketball rice krispy treats are so fun and easy!  You only need six easy-to-find ingredients- and you can substitute the melting chocolate for frosting to make it even more simple. Bring the competition into physical activity Beyond playing basketball and shooting hoops, use March Madness as an inspiration to stay active.  Your Therapy Source is a site for special education and pediatric occupational/physical therapy resources, but their physical activity brackets are fun for all ages.  The “Favorite Physical Activity Bracket” models the same idea of the book tournament described above, but asks kids to vote for their favorite sport/fitness-related activities.  You could use the free printable bracket by YTS here, or create your own using theirs as a model.  Set a goal to partake in each activity as a family before voting for your favorites so that you get up and get moving, too. Research the crazy mascots You’ve probably heard of people basing their bracket picks on the teams’ mascots and are aware of some of the crazy ones out there, but where do schools come up with those names?  There’s almost always a fun story behind the mascot.  As you watch games this month, see what interesting mascots come up, and uncover the history and details.  Some of these featured schools might not be in the March Madness Tournament, but this article explores some of the strangest mascots in America- good for laughs for all! What are some of your favorite March Madness traditions?

  • Ninjas Say the Darndest Things: A Look at the World Through the Eyes of Our Kids

    Do you ever have a really good idea, then as it unfolds, you realize that it’s going to be better than expected? That’s basically how this blog post played out. Here at NinjaZone Headquarters, we were feeling truly inspired, and one day we decided to ask our kids how they would change the world. What followed was pure, uncensored, and beautifully hilarious innocence from our kids. Enjoy. Sophia, age 7.5:  “I’d tell people to pick up all the dog poop.” Henry, age 5:  “I’d make a real video game for people to go in, and the whole world would be made of candy we could just eat. All houses are tree houses OR sandcastles with surf boards for doors.” Georgia, age -1:  *Spits bubbles* (At the time of publishing, we’re not sure what this means.) Charlotte, age 8:  “Animals wouldn’t be mean, and wouldn’t kill anyone. We could also eat all the food we wanted without getting a stomachache.” Anissa, age 6:   “I’d get on the radio and tell all the people to do nice things. I’d say, ‘Hi everyone! Time to do nice things. Do things to help someone. I’m talking to moms, dads, brothers, sisters, doctors, everyone in the whole world!’” Audrey, age 10:  “Make flying cars!” Phoebe, age 12:  “Umm…make some realllllly cool robots.” Matthew, age 5:  “Pick up trash and recycling, and make it look nicer!” JP, age 3:  “Play Star Wars video games every day.” Scarlet, age 6:  “All of the houses would have faces, and talk to me, and there would be a street named Scarlet. Oh, and I would live in a smoothie.” Emmitt, age 7:  “I already make it a better place, because I don’t bully people.” Oliver, age 2:  “I’d build a Ninja house, because I have all my swords!” #funny #parents #kids #ninja #ninjazone

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