Summer has arrived, and that means long days in the sunshine. The only problem? Sometimes, applying sunscreen is a chore. It’s especially hard for wiggly youngsters to sit still while you slather on the trusty SPF.
You don’t want your kids to perceive sun safety as drudgery, but what can you do? One trick is to remember that kids love to be involved. In fact, a recent study at the University of Nevada shows that a kid’s increased knowledge about sun exposure risks may correlate to more positive views about safety measures.
Try these fun sun-safety games to make learning entertaining and memorable, and avoid the dreaded sunburn.
Let your kids choose a fun hat, wacky sunglasses, and even clothing that has ultraviolet protection. Shopping can be the perfect time to discuss the damage sunrays can cause to your skin and eyes. Then, when it’s time to play in the sun, having their own unique items makes getting dressed a special event.
Craft Your Own Accessories
Make beautiful homemade sunray-sensitive jewelry together. This activity is a great way to alert young sunbathers that it’s time to take safety measures. All you need is a strand of leather, scissors, and a bag of ultraviolet detection beads that change color when exposed to the sun’s UV rays. Simply thread the beads on the string and tie around your kid’s wrist or ankle for an instant early warning system.
Create a song or use “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” as you apply sunscreen. Talk about areas of the body that can be forgotten and areas that sometimes require a helping hand to reach, like the back of your neck and ears. Allow your child to help you put on sunscreen, too, singing all the while.
Some sun-safety games are more visually relevant than others. For a memorable mental image, take two large bowls outside, placing one in the shade and one in the sun. Let your child fill each one with water, and add a few small floating tub toys. Ask your child which bowl has no shadows and which one reflects more light. This activity shows how shadows work (and how powerful the sun is), developing a child’s mindfulness about his own sun protection matters.
Grab a large piece of white paper, colorful construction paper, scissors, glue, and bright markers, and work with your child to draw a person on a sunny day. Ask your child to help you brainstorm items to add to the scene to make it seem safer from the sun. Then, create them together with your supplies. See how many items you can come up with together, and discuss why each one is protective. Do you need ideas? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have an insightful, child-friendly list that can help.
Heat Things Up
For this one, you need an outdoor thermometer. Help your child place the thermometer outside in the sun, and set a timer for ten minutes. Together, record the starting and final temperature. Next, return the thermometer’s mercury to the starting temperature. This time, place the thermometer in the shade for ten minutes, again recording the final temperature. Look at the results with your child. How big of a difference was there between the shade and the sun? What if instead of a thermometer, your skin was subjected to the test? Discuss the dangers of high-heat situations and the importance of shade, cooling stations, and hydration.
It’s hard for children to avoid the wiggles when they’re eager to charge outside to play, but these fun sun-safety activities for kids will give you an engaging way to promote life-long healthy habits. Learning important safety information doesn’t have to be boring. Together, get creative and come up with even more ideas.
The best part? You’ll share sunshiny, summery days and wacky games with the kids, all at the same time. Tell us all your sun-safety tips on Twitter!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.