The start of a new school year often brings new family routines. New teachers and after-school activities can inspire or require us to make a few changes. This year, my family has started a dedicated activity night, inspired by my daughter's teacher designating "family time" as weekly homework. Some cold and rainy nights will involve board games, I’m sure, but the majority of these evenings are going to be devoted to getting off the couch as a family. Here are a few activities on our list that you might consider too – they're all free and even eco-friendly since you don't have to get in the car to go anywhere.

Twister: Speaking of board games, Twister is one that won't leave you lazing around. Look for other board games that require you to move around rather than just sit and play.

Yoga: If you want a kinder type of twisting and stretching, try yoga. Find a set of cards to guide you through poses or turn on the TV to follow a streaming or on-demand program – there are often ones specifically for kids.

Obstacle course: Use everyday objects to create mazes to navigate and walls to jump. Your children will love making challenging obstacles for Mom and Dad to get around!

Bike: Make sure everyone wears their helmet as they ride around the neighborhood. Or take your bikes to a nearby trail for a change of scenery.

Hike: Similarly, trek through your neighborhood or find a nearby trail or park to hike through.

Walk to a store: If you need more of a goal for your hike, walk to a store for a treat. Just make it a healthy treat!

Walk the dog: If you don't have a dog, ask a neighbor to borrow theirs or volunteer at a dog shelter to walk those dogs who will appreciate the exercise and attention (check if there's a minimum age limit for volunteers).

Gardening: Raking leaves may not be classified as fun for anyone, but try to make a game of it. Create a maze with your rake or race to see who can clear their section first.

Pokémon Go: Yes, it's a cellphone game, but it's one that requires players to walk around to play. Everyone in the family can download the app and compete to see who catches the most Pokémon.

Geocaching: It’s a treasure hunt for the whole family! Use GPS and compass skills to find hidden items. You can sign up for free at

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