by Danni Leonard, CCLS; Marie Osthimer, CCLS; and Joseph Remaley, LCSW
While we’re all at home more than we’re used to, it’s more important than ever to keep your kids engaged and active. There are many benefits to exercise, including amplifying concentration, lowering stress and improving health. Below, we’ve outlined a few activities that are fun, motivating and simple to carry out inside or in your family’s yard.
Preschool and school-age children are likely to enjoy “Roll-a-Task,” which encourages following simple directions while practicing gross motor skills. And you only need a dice to get started! Each number on the dice can represent a physical activity — for example, if you roll a 1, that means do 10 jumping jacks. Other ideas include crab walks, push-ups and running in place. The activities can be swapped out with things you know your child would have fun with. If you don’t have a dice on hand, feel free to get creative and involve your child in making your own. Some additional easy activities to get your young children’s wiggles out are Simon Says, Freeze Dance, Red Light/Green Light and age-appropriate yoga. For the latter, YouTube is a great resource for free content.
You can also take board games and card games; such as Uno, Candy Land or Jenga; and incorporate movement by assigning a physical activity to a specific card, color or block. This approach gives your child the opportunity to practice reading skills and safely release built-up energy. For example, with Uno, anytime you play a blue card, your opponent has to do a star jump; anytime you play a yellow, your opponent has to do a push-up; and if you play a wild, your opponent has to do a silly dance. For Jenga, you can either write directly on the block or print out and tape different exercises on the blocks. Once a block is successfully chosen without the stack falling, you will then complete the activity on the block. Finally, for Candy Land, each color represents an exercise. Say you draw an orange card — you then have to do six high knees. If you draw a double orange card, you have to do 12.
Finally, obstacle courses and relay races can be put together with many items that you already have in your home, and are great for all ages — even adults can join in on the fun. You can use colored construction paper as leap pads, couch cushions or bean bag chairs for climbing, or baskets for tossing items.
For more ideas, please see our resource guide on the Rady Children’s website.