Earlier this month, Kirsten and Joel Gist rose to a challenge: Get their four kids to run 1 mile within their California home as part of REI’s #TiniestMile effort, meant to encourage people to showcase the creative ways they’re staying active indoors or close to home.
Then, the family added their own spin: They turned it into a curriculum for their kids’ at-home schooling. The day’s history lesson covered the origin of a mile, which dates back to the Romans. For math, they focused on measuring distance, all 5,280 feet. And they had an age-appropriate humanities discussion on the global reach of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many parents, Kristen and Joel, both REI members, began homeschooling their kids after local schools closed in mid-March due to COVID-19. Aside from Joel’s own homeschool experience growing up, teaching is new territory for the parents.
They said the #TiniestMile challenge offered a way to get creative with their at-home lessons.
“It’s fun when you can take a single topic and have all these branches and go down the rabbit trail and discover things,” Kirsten said.
To create the 1-mile route at home, each child had a task. Two-year-old Jane held a measuring tape as her 7-year-old brother, Judah, extended it to gauge the length of rooms and the hallway. Anna, 9, read aloud the measurements in feet. Then their eldest sibling, 10-year-old Nathan, crunched the numbers with some help from his parents. Together, they calculated how many laps they’d have to run on their indoor route to complete a mile.
The verdict: It would take 71 laps through their home’s hallway and 96 laps through their kitchen and living room. To stay on track and not lose count of the laps completed, the family decided to use popsicle sticks. (Every time they finished 10 laps, they would drop one.)
Armed with a handful of sticks, they started running. “I thought it was really fun,” Nathan said of the activity. “It was a good idea to help stay active … just move some tables, and you can run a mile in your [home].”
The Gists said the challenge provided an age-appropriate lesson for each of their kids.
“[The mile demonstrates] how one project like this can involve all of our kids at their own level,” Joel said. “Each kid can take something from it that’s appropriate for their age and grade.” And it gave them an opportunity to have fun—something they’re prioritizing as they adapt to their new routine as a family.