May 20, 2011

Keeping Young Kids Active

It's raining, it's cold, and all my kids want to do is get out and run about.

Liz Wells at Fit For Life has some great ideas for keeping kids active, even during winter. Here are some of her suggestions (slightly modified for indoor play);

1. Obstacle Course
Divide the living room into four areas - use furniture, toys, whatever. Put a picture of an animal or fruit in each area so they know where they are up to, and an activity for them to complete (see ideas below). Start each child on a different activity and play their favourite music. Explain that when the music stops, they need to stop and move onto the next activity. Its a good idea to give them a chart to mark off or put a sticker next to each activity.

Some ideas that you could use in the individual areas are:
- Balloons on a string that can be tied to their wrist, they can practice skills such as bouncing and catching, kicking and throwing skills.
- A hula hoop is another great tool as it helps them practice skipping, jumping and of course having fun trying to hula.
- Small softballs and a bucket: get them to stand in a hula hoop and throw the ball into the bucket which is placed a short distance away, this allows them to practice throwing and accuracy.
- Lay a rope along the ground and get them to walk along it in order to practice their balance.
- Star jumps or jumping from one pillow to the next.
- Limbo Stick
- Mimicking a favourite animal

2. Balloon activities
Blow up a few balloons for each child and encourage them to throw them in the air, catch and kick them. Depending on the age of the child balloons can be used to throw, catch, kick or hit with a fly swatter. If you have a waste paper basket of ample size they can also try to throw the balloon into the basket to mimic a mini game of basketball. A great alternative to a balloon is a rolled up newspaper to be used as a mini-basketball.

For older or more experienced children tie a rope across 2 points to create a mini net for them to throw or hit over. Play hot potato with the balloons where the child has to try to keep the balloon off the ground for as long as possible.

As balloons move through space much slower than balls it’s a great cognitive learning experience too, as they learn to judge the time it takes for the balloon to fall. Try a range of soft balls of different sizes so that children can learn about size and shape at the same time. For example when they kick a balloon versus a ball they will soon learn the different force that’s required for each in order to achieve a similar distance.

3.Treasure hunt
Be creative with this one! You can use anything you want as treasure and how difficult you make it will depend on the age of the child. It’s also fun to provide each child with a bucket to keep the treasures as they find them!

For more great ideas and articles, visit the Fit For Life website. I particularly like their article on swimming lessons without the hassles.

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