9 Fun Activities to Get Kids Moving
It is a rainy day here and that means our kids will not be able to go outside for recess or visit the park after school. The days they do not get to go outside to run, play, and move their bodies are a lot harder because they haven’t been able to burn their energy. The Mayo Clinic notes that children should have at least an hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day and vigorous activities, like running or biking, at least three days a week. In addition, muscle- and bone-strengthening activities, like jump rope, should be included at least three days a week. Research studies from the National Library of Medicine support the idea that physical fitness benefits children's’ cognitive functioning as well. As we learned from our interview with Jackie Peterson on wellness for parents, it doesn’t have to be a lot of effort, but instead small simple activities in your day that can improve your wellness and overall family happiness. In line with that interview, we came up with a list of easy, indoor, and kid-friendly activities to get them moving, keep them healthy, and help their cognitive functioning while also keeping them fit!
A fun low impact activity that involves coordination, engaging core muscles, and endurance! You can challenge each child to a hula-hoop contest to see who can keep it going the longest or do the most tricks. It doesn’t just need to be around your waist but you can try silly moves like hula-hooping around your arm. Make it fun with everyone doing it together to music.
Turn on your kids’ favorite songs and dance around your living room for a couple of minutes. Choose music they love, like a pop song or playlist from their favorite movies. Make sure you dance around with them at the beginning to demonstrate how much fun it is! Mimic each other’s most silly dance moves. Children love to connect with caregivers in a fun and entertaining way. Make it a safe space for kids to express themselves through movement. You can also encourage props like a scarf, glow sticks, and maracas for more music and fun!
An easy activity to set up in any room of your house! Using boxes, toys, or even pots & pans, lay the props around the room and make a system for navigating around each item. You can make it harder for older kids by placing a book on their head that they cannot drop, or place a small ball on a spoon they need to carry through the course. Have the kids jump over pillows for more rigorous physical activities or stand on one leg for improved coordination. When they are bored with your obstacle course, have them design their own! To make it even more fun, make it a race amongst siblings and friends, and play music.
Have your children work as a team to build cooperation and conflict resolution skills. Provide them with clues to locate each item in the hunt with a prize at the end everyone can enjoy. Incorporate props throughout the scavenger hunt, such as caring for a doll they found along the way or only walking backwards holding a ball until they reach the next clue. Create challenging clues about topics in which they are interested. To get their bodies moving, have them do a physical activity, like jumping jacks, to ‘unlock’ the clue. Surprises with treats along the way can keep everyone motivated. If they complete the scavenger hunt but aren’t done with the fun, have them make one for the adults!
Use a couple of balloons to play indoor volleyball. Put on a great playlist and clear space in your living room. Rules are, try to not let the balloon touch the ground, include everyone, and make it silly. You can add fun costumes or make it a relay where each person has to complete a funny challenge (we like somersaulting and crazy dance moves) before returning the balloon to the next person.
A fun activity for a group or a physical challenge for just one person. Teach your children classic jump rope games from the playground:
- Double Dutch with two ropes spinning in opposite directions with players jumper in-and-out in rotation.
- Single rope freestyle with tricks like crossing arms without skipping a beat.
- Hopscotch jump rope with kids jumping into the rope and performing hopscotch moves.
- Mother May I with a leader who must ask permission before doing certain actions before being allowed to jump.
We suggest using one of many kid-friendly (and sometimes very silly) Youtube yoga videos. Create a calmer space with a mat or towel where your child can relax and engage their muscles to perform each pose.
This is a great game when you need to get things ready for dinner. Trying using “Simon Says” while providing instructions for setting the table, washing hands, or filling water glasses. In-between each productive move, have them do very silly actions like make a pretend sandwich, be a dinosaur, or be daddy or mommy to keep them engaged.
There are plenty of fun tag games you can play around the house, some more rough than others! A few classics are freeze tag, capture the flag, and red-light green-light. When you are playing around the house on a rainy day or lazy morning, freeze tag and red-light green-light are the calmer of the three.
These fun activities are designed to get kids interested in moving their bodies, to improve cognitive function (meaning to boost brain function and concentration), to reduce risks of chronic disease (such as diabetes), and to improve mental health (reducing stress and improving self-esteem). Exercise can be an easy and regular part of children’s play that can set them up for healthy habits for a lifetime!