05/28/2010 11:20 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Childhood Obesity - Could Backyard Games Help?

I just watched a wonderful video on Good Parenting Radio with host Matt Bubala. He interviews author Marlene Byrne, founder of Project Play, a series of fun books for children of many ages to read to increase spontaneous backyard play.

She talked about the importance of being able to negotiate a game and develop leadership skills without a video game, ref or coach already providing the structure. For example, how to play baseball when you don't have enough people. She also alluded to the decrease of backyard play and the possible connection to childhood obesity -- decreased activity leading to less healthy kids.

What I love about her books is that she is re-teaching kids the backyard and outdoor games that we played. She tells a fun story about great kids and at the end of the book, the kids know how to play one backyard game. Some examples are Follow the Leader, Treasure Hunt, Just a Baseball Game and Kick the Can.

She realizes that many people used to have bigger families and the older children taught the younger children how to play. Now, some of that tradition isn't happening due to smaller families. Matt remembered playing after dark games with 30 kids in his neighborhood. I remember having to be called in many times after dark from my play activities. The book addresses how to adjust to current times when parents feel the need to keep a closer eye on their kids than in the past.

Watch author Marlene Byrne in this video and tell me about your favorite games you played growing up. Mine was Hide and Seek, having the entire block available to hide. We could have over 10 kids. Or, building forts out of old cardboard or hay bales. What was your favorite back yard game as a kid?