Family - Children
By: - at March 6, 2013

Fun Activities to Get Young Kids Active

Fat Kid on CouchChildhood 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.

Fun 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
Silly KidA 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.

Child Learning ABCs

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)

Kids going through tube

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.

Fun-Land Stations
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 station.

Kids Hula Hooping

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.

How 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 “Fun Course”.

Kids playing a Fun Course

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.

Blanket Crawl
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.

Setting up for Blanket Crawl

Take 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

Kids jumping in pillow sacks for exercise.
Photo by LetKidsCreate

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.Kids collect coins for exercise

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 for kids.

Final Thoughts
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.







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