Another fun family holiday is fast approaching, and as parents, you can take advantage of this occasion to help your kids develop healthy eyes through eye care-friendly games. Read on to find out how Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day games can be great for your child’s vision.
Hey, moms and dads! Did you know that July 10 is Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day games?
This fun family holiday is mostly celebrated in North America, Canada, and Australia. Teddy Bears’ Picnic is actually a song composed by John Walter Bratton in 1907 (originally entitled ‘The Teddy Bear Two Step’), with lyrics added by Jimmy Kennedy in 1932. According to the Examiner, Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day was formally launched into a holiday in 1988 by Royal Selangor.
As the name implies, this day is all about taking your teddy bear out for a picnic. You can also do an indoor variation wherein you set up a tent or a picnic mat inside the house for a cozier teddy bear bonding moment with your kids.
Aside from enjoying food and music on this day, Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day is also a great opportunity to play games with your kids. While you’re at it, why not choose games that can help your child get better vision?
Vision problems are not uncommon among kids and adults today. All About Vision notes that myopia or nearsightedness is one of the most common refractive errors in the world, and its prevalence is at about 30 to 40 percent in the U.S. and in Europe, and much higher in Asia. The figures are also quite alarming: The rate of nearsighted people, from 12 to 54 years old, increased by nearly two-thirds in a span of three decades ending in 2004, as reported in a 2015 Wall Street Journal article.
Why should this be a cause for concern for parents? Because myopia can manifest symptoms in as early as childhood.
The Singapore National Eye Centre noted that “progressive childhood myopia” is a product of two factors: genetic and environmental. This means that children of nearsighted parents are more likely to develop myopia, and children who spend a lot of time indoors may be more at risk. And in today’s heavily digital and mobile world where kids can easily access (and spend long hours using) mobile phones and gadgets, they are more prone to developing vision problems, which is why proper eye care is paramount, now more than ever.
If your child is already displaying symptoms of myopia such as squinting when watching TV or holding the book too close to the face while reading, immediately consult an eye doctor for the best myopia cure for kids. You can opt for nearsighted glasses, contact lenses, or Orthokeratology a.k.a. Vision Improvement Therapy (VIT).
VIT, also known as Vision Improvement Therapy, is an FDA-approved, non-surgical, and completely reversible procedure wherein users wear custom-designed corrective overnight lens. Because myopia is a result of the cornea being too elongated or too curved, these gas permeable lenses gently shape the cornea while the child sleeps. Upon waking, your child can immediately have clear vision without glasses or contact lenses for the rest of the day.
Vision Improvement Therapy (VIT) or using VIT lenses is not a one-time treatment procedure though; on the contrary, it’s a process that requires assessment and regular consultation to monitor results against the goal. Orthokeratology is ideal for physically active kids who might be hampered by eye glasses or are allergic to soft contact lens. (You can check the Invisalens website for more information.)
Of course, these are things that you think about when managing myopia or other refractive errors like hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism. There are many (and simple) ways to help your child get better vision without glasses.
Fortunately, eye care is something you can easily incorporate into your children’s play time, thus making it easier for them to adapt and remember habits that will ensure they’ll have better vision in the years to come. In fact, the American Optometric Association (AOA) points out that “toy, games and playtime activities help by stimulating the process of vision development.”
And so, as Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day fast approaches, here are some games and eye-friendly activities you can play with your kids—and their teddy bears too!
- Play catch. Online magazine Outside explains that a game as simple as catch can do wonders for developing hand-eye coordination. It can also help with improving peripheral vision. You can practice this by throwing the ball overhead or slightly to your child’s left or right, instead of just throwing it directly. Don’t worry if your children miss the ball at first. After a few rounds, their brains will adjust and their catching ability will improve. Aside from throwing and catching balls, you can also use plastic discs especially if you have older kids. Another great thing about this activity is the added benefit of natural (and indirect) sunlight on the eyes.
Match objects to the outline. Australian website Kidspot suggests gathering small items around the house and tracing around them on a piece of paper. Have your children match the items with the outlines by placing them in the correct spot. You can add a twist to this game by making them connect the dots after they match the objects to the outline. For example, ask your kids to connect the items that go together, based on shape, size, or function.
String beads. Ask your kids to create accessories for their teddy bears by using beaded strings. Choose different and bright-colored patterns and materials to make it fun and visually compelling for them.
Play memory games. According to the website Rebuild Your Vision, memory games are great for practicing visual memory. There are a few variations of this game that you can try. For example, you can show your children a photo of a teddy bear and give them a few minutes to memorize the details, after which each one takes turns describing details, with the one who can remember more details winning the game. Another variation of the game is gathering two copies of an image or a photo and placing them face down. Each kid gets a chance to reveal two photos at a time. The goal is for them to eventually find two similar photos.
Find color and shape sets. Assign a color or a shape to your kids and ask them to find or point out objects that match the assigned color or shapes within a given time limit. This activity is particularly fun when done outdoors. It’s an opportunity for your kids to train their eyes under natural sunlight (which is good for them) and recognize vibrant colors, recurring patterns, and hidden shapes in everyday objects.
Do eye exercises. Eye exercises are easy to do, safe, and can go a long way in helping your children achieve better vision. You can start with a tracking exercise. First, hook a ball to a string or a shoe lace and place it in front of your child’s nose. Instruct your child to follow the ball with his/her eyes only, no head movements, as you swing it from side to side. You can even tell your child that this is a one-on-one game between him/her and his/her teddy bear for some kid-friendly competition.
Another eye exercise you can try is the “clock” exercise. Ask your child to look straight ahead and imagine that he/she is facing a clock. Indicate a time (e.g. lunch time) and ask your child to look at the direction where it would be on the clock. Do this for at least 10 times. You can also give specific numbers when giving directions for where to look.
Complete jigsaw puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles are fun whether done indoors or outdoors. It’s great for sharpening visual memory and training your kids to recognize visual patterns. Choose age-appropriate puzzles so your kids will not end up getting frustrated if it’s too hard or bored if it’s too easy.
Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day is one occasion you can maximize to help your child have better vision without glasses. Choose toys that can aid in this process, and be creative in playing games and activities that will promote better vision. Your child’s vision is precious, so protect it and be proactive in preventing vision problems.
Do you have any ideas for eye-care friendly games that can be played on July 10? We’d love to hear from you! Happy Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day!