Physical activity is a pretty big part of our children’s day-to-day lives. However, sometimes we are left scratching our heads, wondering what we can do with our kids or what they can do on their own to get them moving. Physical activity not only helps to keep children physically strong and healthy, but it can also ward off anxiety and depression that can come with changes in routine and isolation from friends, peers, and extended family.

We are sharing a number of fun movement activities that you can do with your child to get everyone up and moving!

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines report that for healthy growth and development:

  • Infants (aged less than 1 year) should be physically active several times daily, particularly through interactive floor-based play.
  • Toddlers (aged 1–2 years) and preschoolers (aged 3–4 years) should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day.
  • For health benefits, children aged 5-11 years should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.

The movement activities don’t need to be complicated.  What games did you play as a child?  Perhaps they included kick the can, hide and go seek, three-legged race, Simon says, freeze dance, what time is it Mr. Wolf?, follow the leader or stop-go games. You can also ask grandparents for ideas about what they did before screens were a part of everyday life.

Below are some other ideas for things to do that do not require a lot of equipment and/or make use of things that are readily available within your home.

  1. Fly a kite!  Find an open area away from hydro lines if the parks and green spaces are still not open.
  2. Build a fort with whatever you have available.  Chairs, blankets, cushions, boxes are some of the things that can be incorporated into this activity.  Encourage your child to help with the building and be open to their ideas, even if you know it won’t work.  Experimentation is part of the play.  When done, have an indoor camp out in your new fort!
  3. Enlist your child’s help with gardening yard work and household chores such as sweeping, vacuuming, etc.
  4. Set up your favorite exercise video and allow your child to exercise with you!  The technique doesn’t matter!
  5. Physical Challenges:
    • Pretend cushions are the rocks in a bridge that your child must cross.  You can also use pillowcases or paper towels.  Don’t fall in the lava or water!
    • Rollover pillows, down a hill, or over a caregiver.
    • Challenge them to balance (with or without help) on raised surfaces such as on a curb, rock, or log, or alternatively along a crack in the road.  Ideas for within the home include a taped line or string and/or on a pillow or low stool.
    • Encourage crawling over, under, and through things. Couch cushions and pillows are 2 suggestions.
    • “Jump” over taped lines, on, off, in circles, and sideways.
    • Set up an obstacle course by combining 2 or more of the above components.
  6. Music:
    • Watch a musical children’s show and encourage them to make up their own dance.  Add ribbons, scarves, or streamers to add variety. Here is a sample of some of the shows available: The Beat Bugs (Netflix), The Wiggles (Netflix and CBC Kids), BO on the Go (Netflix and CBC Kids), The Moblees (CBC).
    • Dance along with YouTube dance videos for children., Note: always prescreen videos to ensure they are appropriate.  There are so many versions of “baby shark”.
    • Action songs such as Ring Around the Rosey, Head and Shoulders, Fishy in the Middle, Happy and You Know It, and Baby Beluga are also great ways to get your child up and moving.
    • Make your own musical instruments.  Put dried beans or rocks into plastic containers and use them as shakers.  Bring out the pots and pans which make great drums.   Have fun making your own rhythms and patterns, or have a parade and play while marching around your home or yard.
  7. Animal Walks:
    • Practice animal poses or do kids yoga
    • Move through the house, around the yard, and in the park.
    • Challenge them to an “animal race”.  See which one (or who!) can go the fastest, slowest, etc.
  8. Catching and Throwing Games:
    • Bubbles!  Don’t have any?  There are lots of recipes on the internet that use materials that you likely already have in your home.
    • Play catch with a pillow, ball, stuffed animal, or balloon.
    • Use a towel as a parachute.  You can lift it up/down, shake it, walk in a circle or hide underneath it.  Put stuffed animals, bean bags, or cotton balls onto the towel and shake it until they all fall out.