Fun Activities to Get Young Kids Active
Childhood obesity rates continue to soar in this
world (especially in the United States), and children are
becoming less and less physically active. There are less kids playing outside as
video games and TV progressively take over as a child’s main source of fun and
entertainment. Our diet habits (especially in America) also play a big role in
why the obesity rates are rising, and that is why it is so important to be
vigilant of how much physical activity our kids are getting. It is important to
get kids active at an early age. Studies show that by doing this, kids will most
likely continue to stay active as they grow into teens and adults. But how do we
pull the kids away from the TV and electronic devices? The answer is to come up
with fun games and activities to get our kids moving.
Activities for a Toddler (approx. 1-3 years)
Toddlers are very curious about their world around them, so it’s a good idea to
choose exercise activities that are learning activities as well. There are many
games and activities that are fun, educational, and will help create a
foundation for the child to continue to be active for years to come.
Act Like Animals & Be Silly
A great game to play with a toddler is “Let’s Be Animals”. All you need to do
to play this game is to pretend to be different animals and act how they act.
For instance, you could say “let’s act like a duck” and waddle around the room
(or outside) while quacking like a duck.
You could also say “let’s fly like a
bird” and flap your arms up and down while “soaring” through the room. Not only
is this a fun activity for your toddler, he/she will be getting physical
activity and learning about different animals as well.
Make Learning ABC’s a Fun Game
Another great idea to get your toddler active is to play “Alphabet Scramble”.
All you have to do for this game is to buy cardboard cut-out alphabet letters
(or make them yourself out of poster board or cardboard) and place them in
random order on the floor of a large, uncluttered room. Then with a simple
“ready, set, go”, the toddler goes around the room picking up the letters in
order starting with “A”, and lines the letters up in order either in a different
near-by room or along the baseboard area of the same room (or where ever you
prefer). This is a great physical and mental exercise for a toddler and will not
only help teach them about letters of the alphabet, but will also help fine-tune
their fine motor skills and also their logic and reasoning skills.
Jump Like Frogs!
“Froggy Leap Pad” is a great exercise game as well. To play this, you need to
make lily pads out of poster board or cardboard, similar to how you would make
the letters in the alphabet game. You could even get fancy and make them out of
green felt, and this material helps stick better to the carpet. Place the “lily pads” around the room creating
a makeshift “trail” to follow. The idea of the game is to pretend like the inner
part of the room is a swamp. The “frog” needs to hop from lily pad to lily pad
until it reaches the “other side of the swamp”. To add an educational aspect to
this game, you can count with the toddler on each jump to the next pad.
Fun Activities for a Young Child (approx. 4-8 years)
Children in this age range generally have a great deal of energy to exert.
However, they also can have a very short attention span and want to move on to
the “next thing” there is to do. It is a good idea to find activities that are
not only physical, but also keep their interest as well. It is also a good idea
to participate with the child in the activity. Not only are you the role model
that they strive to emulate, you are also giving them the attention that they
crave. Also, it's so important for children in this age range to do rewarding
activities that instill self-confidence.
Create “fun-land” by making different fun activity stations for the child.
The variety of activities that this encompasses ensures that your child will not
become bored. You could set up some empty water bottles like bowling pins and
let the child use a soft foam or plastic ball to knock them down. You could have
a jump-rope station, a hula-hoop station, a hopscotch station, or even a dance
You could even make your own bean-bag toss game by filling socks with dried
beans or rice and making a knot at the top. Then to make the toss-box simply
find a cardboard box (about the size of a standard size moving box) and with
packing tape make sure the box is solidly taped closed. On the solid smooth
sides, carefully take a box cutter or scissors and cut out an appropriate size
hole based on the size of the beanbags that you have created.
You can also make a ring-toss game using simple household items including
paper-towel rolls, cardboard, and glue. To make the rings, find an old round
disposable type plastic container and with scissors carefully cut small rings
out of it. Be careful and check to make sure that the edges of the rings are not
too sharp for the child to grasp. I like to wrap multi-colored duct tape
around the edge just in case.
to Make a Fun-Course
You can also create a “fun course”, essentially an obstacle course but more
“fun sounding” to the younger child than the word “obstacle”. There are many
things that you can use from around your home to create the “fun course”. You
could line up laundry baskets and flip some over and leave some upright. The
child would have to either jump in or over the baskets. You could take a roll of
toilet paper and create a “path” for the child to follow to the next part of the
Additional Game Ideas
Some other ideas to add to the “Fun Course” include the blanket crawl,
walking in mom’s shoes, and the pillowcase-sack hop.
To set up the “blanket crawl” you will need either a really big blanket or
several smaller blankets duct-taped together. The object of this activity is to
place several small stuffed animals under a spread blanket and have the child
crawl around under the blanket while retrieving the stuffed animals. To keep the
blanket from bunching up you can duct-tape the corners to the floor, making sure
to leave enough slack for the child to crawl under. If the game is being played
outside, you could use tent-stakes or rods to hold the corners in place. Just be
sure that if you are doing this outside that you use a blanket that you don’t
mind ruining. You can also have some sort of container or basket nearby that the
child could deposit the “hidden” stuffed animals in.
a Walk in Mom’s Shoes
To set up “walking in mom’s shoes” you need to find a pair of your size
sneakers for your child to put on. The object of this game is simple: the child
just needs to get from point A to point B while wearing mom’s sneakers. To make
this activity a little more challenging, you could put down some throw pillows
for the child to zig-zag around. It is best to do this activity on a softer
surface such as carpet or the lawn. Children have the potential to trip and fall
during this activity, and it is important to be mindful of their safety.
Pillow Case Sack Hop Game
To set up the “pillowcase-sack hop” all you need are pillowcases. If there is
only one child participating, you need to make it into a time limit style game
where the child is racing to beat the clock. Two or more children can play
racing style. Find a large open area and mark a starting point and a finishing
point. The child puts their feet and legs into the “sack” and while grasping the
opening of the pillowcase hops to the finish line.
Race the Clock and Collect Coins
Another game I like to play with my kids is the “quarter hunt”. This game is
basically like a traditional Easter egg hunt, and can be played indoors or out.
All you have to do is hide the quarters around in random spots, and let the kids
find and claim them. The key here is to set a timer, so there is a sense of
urgency to hurry, run, and find as many quarters as they can in the allotted
time frame. Kids love money, and this game will surely get them moving! Note:
You can use any coins to play this game, not just quarters. Also, hiding a
couple one dollar bills into the mix will make this game all that more exciting
When it comes to our kids, their health and happiness should always come first.
By making exercise fun, it is more likely to ensure their willingness to
participate in being physically active. There are so many more ideas that you
could do as well. Get creative and find what works best for you and your child.
Fun Activities to Get Young Kids Active
Validate Your Child's Feelings