Let’s Move! Creative Ideas for Active Play
Written by: Angela Stinman, PTA
With the possibility of playgrounds, pools, and splash pads being closed over the coming months, many parents are wondering “What will my kids do all summer?” There are still several ways to get out and be active at home all summer long. Going for walks, bike rides, and hiking are great ways to get out and get moving. Some families have backyard swing sets, trampolines, and outdoor games that they can play. There are several other activities and games that you can do outside without any equipment and without even leaving your backyard. Several of these games require items that can easily be found around the house, or you can just use your imagination!
Get Up & Move Dice Game:
Make two giant dice out of boxes. On one, write action words like “jump,” “crawl,” or “run.” On the other, write direction words like “in a circle,” “like a frog,” “sideways.” Throw the dice and do what they instruct (“Jump like a frog”). Kids can get silly and creative with the actions and directions, and they can easily be changed to play over and over again!
Have you ever used the phrase “Don’t fall in the hot lava?” We use that phrase for balance activities all the time at PTC! Preschool age is a great time to introduce this classic game. Have your child walk across a dynamic surface (rocks, pillows, patio pavers, etc.) without “falling in the hot lava.” You can make it more interesting by using paper plates as jumping points along the route. This activity is great both indoors and out.
Flash Light Treasure Hunt:
Hide a few of your child’s favorite toys around the house (or just in one room), turn off all the lights, and send him/her off to find the items with the flashlight! Take turns and see who can find the trickiest hiding spots.
Floor Tape and Chalk Activities:
Make a tight rope by laying tape down on your carpet or using chalk outside. Teach your child to walk across it without falling off. If going forward gets too easy, try backwards or sideways.
Lay down an indoor hopscotch with tape or draw one outside with chalk and practice different ways to hopscotch (diagonal jumps, jumping with both feet in and both feet out, backwards jumps, traditional hopscotch).
Put tape “roads” through your house or draw them with chalk outside. Your child can be the car and run along the lines, or kids can get down and drive their cars all around.
* Don’t leave the tape on your carpet for too long, as it can become hard to pull up once it’s been walked on for several days.
Your mom told you not to throw balls in the house (and she was right), but you can still play “basketball” inside with your child by wadding up newspaper for basketballs and using a pot, laundry basket, or clean bin for the hoop. You can move the “hoop” around to different places in the house to make it more challenging, or make different shooting challenges (balancing on a pillow or cushion, standing on one leg, standing backwards, while laying down, etc.).
Sweeping, moping, raking leaves/grass, picking up sticks are all good ways to get physical activity and engage various muscle groups along the way, while helping around the house too! If you turn this into a fun game or challenge by saying “Let’s see if we can sweep the kitchen before the song ends!” Or, “Let’s see how many toys we can put away in two minutes!” Kids will have a blast and may not even realize they are working.
Indoor Obstacle Course:
Obstacle courses make great physical games for children. We do them all the time at PTC. Build a course at home using some of these ideas in any order:
Crawl under tables
Use a Balance Beam made from tape, folded towels, boards
Climb over ottomans
Jump/roll/crawl/crab walk from one obstacle to another
Jump between or over pillows or couch cushions
Throw a ball into a box or at a target from different distances
Perform various exercises such as 20 jumping jacks, sit-ups, standing on one foot, etc.
Crawl through a tunnel of blankets or sheets hung between furniture
Outdoor Obstacle Course:
The outdoor version of the obstacle course! Here are some ideas for your course to put in any order:
Lay down a ladder and have the kids step through each rung. Increase difficulty by running, hopping, jumping through each rung
Allow only jumping/rolling/crawling/crab walking from one area of the course to another
Put down a piece of wood as a balance beam
Perform various exercises like 20 sit-ups or push-ups
Give each child 2 sheets of newspaper and allow each step to be taken only on a piece of newspaper. This requires the child to reach back and grab the previous sheet of newspaper and move it in front of them. At PTC we do this with big blocks and call it “block walks,” but you cold also use paper plates, towels, etc.
Jump over various objects (lines in the pavement, rubber hose, shovel/rake handles)
Throw balls to knock down objects such as shoe boxes, empty plastic bottles or cans, etc.
Make kids fill up a cup of water, run a distance to another container, pour the water in the container, and repeat this until they fill up the target to a certain height
*Make completing each obstacle course a new challenge by timing each run through!
We understand it can be challenging to find ways to keep children active and engaged without many traditional summer activities available. Remember how important it is for children’s growth and development to be getting lots of movement-based play each day. Some parents find it helpful to require daily outdoor play and movement activities before getting screen time. Hopefully, you can use some of these fun ideas to keep your family moving and enjoy the warm weather ahead. Let the fun begin!