Physical activity is important for children – and adults! And whether it’s following a long day of schoolwork or keeping kids entertained on the weekend, getting bodies moving can be good for both physical and mental health.
Physical activity doesn’t have to be complicated. Taking a walk around the block is a simple way to get in some exercise. Start with a short distance, then encourage your children to walk a little farther each time (just remember that you’ll have to walk back, too, unless you’re going in a circle!). If basic walks are too tame for your kids, try hiking local trails or biking if you have bicycles handy. If you have a backyard or a park field nearby, just letting them loose to run around can help them burn off some pent-up energy.
Need to stay inside? That’s OK! Put on some music and have a dance party. Try yoga, or experiment with different ways to walk, hop, and crawl.
Whether it’s a competition or just a way to push themselves, adding in some challenges can making simple activities a bit more fun. How far can they jump? How fast can they run? Can they walk like a crab or hop like a frog? If you put some pieces of tape on the floor or mark off the driveway with chalk, can they jump from mark to mark? Can they hop sideways between the marks? Try hopscotch or other shapes to encourage different options.
Set up goals or targets and have your children try to reach them, whether it’s by kicking or throwing a ball, or tossing a bean bag or small rock.
To keep things interesting, try adding activity dice to the mix and see if your child can act like different animals or superheroes. Check out this list from the City of San Rafael for ideas and printables: https://www.cityofsanrafael.org/roll-the-dice-games/. If you don’t have access to a printer, you can just write out some challenges on pieces of paper and lay them on the floor or ground to instruct kids. Give them a space to move, then set up your challenges along a path. Some challenges can be “jump like a frog to the next paper,” “run backwards,” “hop on one leg,” “slither like a snake.” Use your imagination or the link above for more ideas!
ADD SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT
Printables aren’t the only thing you can add. Adding other supplies or equipment can also add to the fun, and it can be as simple as heading to the playground! Swings, slides, climbing equipment, and more can keep bodies moving in fun and interesting ways. Check out several playgrounds in your area and see which ones your child likes best. While many will offer similar options, some will have unique features that add an exciting twist.
Do you have any balls, cones, hula hoops, jump ropes, or other supplies at home? If so, bring them out! Play a game of catch. Twirl those hoops or hop from one to the other. Skip rope or try double dutch.
Don’t have traditional sports supplies? That’s OK! Set up an obstacle course using whatever you have available. Placing chairs, pillows, even rocks or sticks, around your play space can create a fun challenge. Invite your children to run between the items, jump over them, walk backward through them, walk like a crab through them. Time the challenges so children can aim to beat their time or complete the course before the timer runs out.
SPORTS AND GAMES
Formal sports and games, with rules and regulations, can offer more structured playtime. If you have sports equipment on hand, bring it out and see what you can do with it. Even a simple ball to kick around can become a game of soccer by setting up goals at opposite ends of a field. Some parks will offer goals already set up, or you can simply place large rocks a few feet apart to act as goal posts.
Non-sports games are a great, fun option, too. Musical chairs, for example, can keep bodies moving while also encouraging lots of giggles! How about a game of tag? Have you tried the floor is lava? What other games can you and your children come up with?
MEDIA THAT ENCOURAGE MOVEMENT
Looking for more ways to get your kids moving? Check out these other resources!
YouTube Channel Lists:
And of course, the internet abounds with more ideas and suggestions to explore. Happy moving!