Sun Safe Activities for Your Kids

Little girl with bottle of sun cream sitting at tropical beachMy almost 2-year-old daughter usually rips off her hat, swats at the sunscreen bottle, and  tolerates her sunglasses for less than 5 seconds! Sun safety is a daily challenge in our house. Instead of making sun safety a battle, I decided to find some ways to make it fun and educational. Plan a morning around these activities, or choose one daily for a week to keep your kids excited.

1. Set up a coloring station with pictures of the sun, sunglasses, the beach, or anything related to the sun. While your kids color educate them on how powerful the sun can be and on the importance of protecting themselves from its powerful rays. Focus on the positives of the sun as well, such as its ability to help plants grow. Here are a few free coloring sheets that  you can download and print to get you started.

2. If your kids are a little older let them work through these Sun Safety Activity Sheets that include crossword puzzles, word scrambles, mazes and more!Mother And Daughter Under Beach Umbrella Putting On Sun Cream

3. Print off this poster and tell your kids you are going to have a photo shoot. Take pictures of your kids wearing their sun hat and sunglasses, sitting under a tree for shade, and putting on their sunscreen. Get them involved by letting them find the perfect shady spot or tree! Print the pictures and let your kids paste them onto the poster. They will feel like stars! Put it in a visible location in the house to remind them how “cool” it is to protect yourself from the sun.

4. Take a trip to the Zoo! Animals have to protect themselves from the sun too. Let your child guess how each animal is able to do this without sunscreen. Then provide them with the answers (Cheat Sheet for You About Animals🙂 and have them work through these fun animal worksheets. 

5. Take a trip to the craft store for some UV changing beads (or buy them online). Let your kids make them into bracelets or zipper pulls for their backpacks. Then take them outside into the sunlight and watch them change colors! Although they can’t see the ultraviolet rays, this will help your children see that they are real. If you are still in a crafty mood…decorate sun hats with a glue gun and flowers, ribbon, etc.

6. Let your child raid their closet and dressers. Have them pull out 5 items of clothing that they think would protect them the most from the sun. Then see if they are right. Clothing that is darker in color and more tightly woven/heavier material is more protective.Hand heart

For more ideas check out the full Children’s Toolkit from The American Academy of Dermatology, the activity sheets and ideas from the Maryland Department of Health, and 52 other ideas from The CDC. These resources are Free and Fun! Let your kids have fun in the sun this summer, but don’t forget to teach them about sun safety too!

From The Mom in Me, MD







Stop Kissing the Sun: 4 Tips for Every Woman

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor. Freedom cI didn’t listen to my mother. Well…I kind of, sort of listened. I had dabbed on a small amount of sunscreen 2 hours into my beach adventure. How hot could the sun be in April? I wanted to leave Florida with a beautiful bronze tan. Instead, I looked like a lobster. Not just any lobster, no, I looked like a boiled lobster. My skin was fire engine red, covered in blisters, and incredibly painful. I couldn’t shower. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even wear a bra or t-shirt without feeling absolutely miserable. Instead of coming home with a tan, I came home to weeks of peeling, damaged skin…beautiful indeed.

What I hadn’t realized at the age of 14 was that severe burns like this could set me up for skin cancer later in life. Almost twenty years later, I still have to remind myself to lather on the sunscreen. I never forget to apply and reapply my daughter’s sunscreen, but in the back of my mind I am still longing for my own beautiful golden glow. Although I love the sun-kissed look, I’ve decided that my flirtation with UV rays needs to end. I need to stop kissing the sun…before it kisses me with skin cancer!

Ladder into skySkin cancer disfigures. It leaves scars, and it kills. I wish that I only knew this from reading text books, but within the past five years I have lost one of my role models to melanoma, and my own mother was diagnosed with a large squamous cell skin cancer on her face. These experiences have prompted me to ask myself, “Why do I work so hard to protect my daughter from the dangers of the sun, while leaving myself exposed to its harmful UV rays? Am I really that vain that I care more about my appearance than ensuring that I’m around to annoy my grandchildren with sun hats, gallons of sunscreen, and a tent sized umbrella for the beach? ” My conclusion…I need to lather up, suit up, shade up, and check up before it’s too late!

1. Lather up

Sunscreen is a must for all women! Putting it on is the first step, but reapplying it is just as important. Sunscreen only lasts for about 2 hours. If you are swimming, sweating, or wiping yourself off with a towel, you will need to put it on more frequently. Make sure that you choose a sunscreen with broad coverage (UVA and UVB protection). This will ensure that you are not only protecting against a sunburn but also against the rays that penetrate more deeply. Your SPF should be at least 15, but if 50 is available use it instead! Higher than 50 doesn’t offer any additional protection as far as we can tell. For day-to-day, when you aren’t in the sun much, make sure that you are still protecting your face. The easiest way to do this is by using a facial cream that contains SPF.

Mother And Daughter Under Beach Umbrella Putting On Sun Cream

2. Suit up

Wearing protective clothing is another way to limit your sun exposure. Many swimming suits and cover ups are made with UV protective fabric. Choosing one of these will help limit your exposure. If you aren’t planning on going for a swim and want to wear normal clothing, choose fabrics that offer more protection such as those made from tightly woven fabrics and darker colors. Another great option is to add sun protection to your clothes in the laundry. Companies like RIT now have laundry additives (such as Sun Guard) that add temporary UV protection to your clothes. Don’t forget a hat! Your head, face, and shoulders often get the most exposure. Wearing a broad rimmed hat (not just a baseball cap) can minimize this exposure the best. Finally, don’t forget to protect your eyes by wearing UV protective sunglasses!

3. Shade up

Look for shade! Use an umbrella at the beach and by the pool. Limit the amount of time that you spend in direct sunlight. You can still enjoy the beauty of a sunny day from underneath a canopy. Also, make sure to avoid being in direct sunlight during the most intense times of the day (between 10am  and 2pm). Even if it is a cloudy day UV rays are still beaming down! Make sure that you still seek shade and apply your sunscreen. If you are going to be on the beach, near the pool, or even playing in the snow make sure to take extra precautions. Sand, water, and snow all reflect light. This only increases the strength and damaging power of UV (ultraviolet) rays. Finally, don’t think that trading in the outdoors for a tanning booth is going to do you any favors. Shade yourself from all UV light…even the artificial kind.Beautiful Mother And Baby outdoors. Nature. Beauty Mum and her C

4. Check up

Look at your skin regularly, and for the hard to see parts, make sure that someone else is checking you out (a spouse, friend, or physician). If you notice that a mole has changed in size, shape, or color, get it checked out immediately! Using a mole map will make it easier to track changes in your skin. Make sure that you know the ABCDE’s of melanoma in order to be a good judge of what you are seeing. If you tend to have a lot of moles and sun spots, having a yearly skin check by your primary care physician or a dermatologist is a great idea.

Skin cancer can be prevented, and it can be effectively treated if caught early. These days if I get a sun kissed craving, I remind myself of the risks and reach for a bottle of bronzer instead. Who says a fake tan can’t be just as beautiful?

From The Mom in Me, MD