15 Fun Physical Activities For Kids At Home
- Toddlers grow rapidly and learn fast from their environment.
- Outdoor games are great for their overall physical development.
- Bonding over games can create a fun-filled family time.
- Games can make your toddler a curious and resilient child.
- Games can help your toddler communicate better.
Your child means the world to you. The little bundle of joy keeps you busy all day. But have you thought about how to enhance your child’s learning and development? Well, something as simple as physical activities for young children can add more value to your child’s overall development.
Physical activity for kids includes from some fun-filled outdoor games. Active toddlers benefit a lot from these outdoor games. You can even organise physical activities for kids at home.
Let us show you how.
From a turkey gobbler to a toddler
Young children, especially those less than a year, tend to eat sooner and try to fit larger morsels of food in their mouths. Being young makes them curious, greedy, and yet to understand the basics of life—A turkey gobbler!
But as they grow beyond one year, their activity increases, with most children being able to stand up on their own or even walk. This is a milestone where they love to play and explore. Toddlers grow at a rapid pace and learn to speak, move, and play various games. All these physical activities prepare them for their later life.
Games in a toddler’s life
For a toddler, each day is a new adventure and continuous movement is often the new game.
Research has shown that play, especially with parents and peers, promotes the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that build executive function and a positive sense of social responsibility.
Games not only help your toddler to develop physical skills but also cognitive skills like thinking for themselves, understanding commands, communicating with others, imagining things, etc.
Significance of outdoor games for a toddler
Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of toddlers.
The intensity of the chosen activity may range from light to energetic. Here are a few benefits of outdoor games for toddlers:
- Sunshine: Playing under the moderate sun helps our bodies make Vitamin D, which is important for bone development and our immune system. Sun exposure also gives healthy sleep and improves kids’ mood.
- Exercise: Outdoor games are a great way to exercise and exercising for at least an hour per day is beneficial for all children, including toddlers. It helps burn calories and also strengthens bones and muscles.
- Executive Function: These are skills that help us plan, prioritize, troubleshoot, negotiate, and multitask. These skills need to be learned and practised and need ample time. When playing outside with other children, toddlers can use their imagination to make up new games and learn these skills well.
- Taking Risks: As parents we want our children to be safe. However, not taking risks may not allow your child to become brave and understand his true potential to do things. Taking risks may lead children to success or failure, but children can always learn from their mistakes.
- Socializing: Outdoor games are social enablers. These expose children to various aspects of communication, sharing and caring, and how to work together.
- Appreciating Mother Earth: Outdoor games are a great way for children to appreciate nature. It is a refreshing experience for them. The fresh air, pure water, animals, and birds, all teach numerous lessons to children in their own unique ways.
Our and kids’ health is on our own hands. We just have to be more mindful. But what are the simple physical activities at home for kids? Read on.
Games to boost hand-eye coordination
Since toddlers are constantly moving around, running, and crawling to explore their surroundings, they often chance upon ways to develop and improve their hand-eye coordination.
For example, while crawling near a stack of papers, the toddler may try to pick up a paper, fold it or even scribble something with a nearby pen or pencil. Games that will thus improve your toddler’s hand-eye coordination include but are not limited to,
- Drawing and scribbling on paper
- Coloring the drawn images
- Transferring objects from one hand to another
- Throwing and catching a ball
How do climbing frames and swing sets serve to be more than just games?
- Toddlers should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (three hours). The more the better.
- This should be spread throughout the day, including playing outdoors. Outdoor play improves the sensory skills of toddlers. These activities involve the toddler as an active participant and address social, cognitive-motor, and linguistic needs.
- One of the most common outdoor attractions for children includes swings, slides, and climbing frames. Swinging stimulates the vestibular system in our bodies, which, in turn, controls the fine motor skill development of children.
- The vestibular system is thought to be a primary organizer of sensory information and contributes to physical and emotional security. Swinging helps to develop fine motor skills and emotional well-being in toddlers, it also enhances their social interaction with other toddlers.
- Climbing on things is a natural activity for growing babies like toddlers as they gain strength day by day. Climbing trees in the natural habitat can be dangerous and risky and so using a climbing frame that mimics the climbing on trees can be helpful.
- Risky play has an important role in the well-being, satisfaction, and development of children’s current and future academic and life skills. It develops growth mindsets and resiliency in children.
- Risk-taking may result in positive outcomes. When toddlers are encouraged to climb using frames, it cuts down the risk of climbing without support and is thus relatively safe.
- Climbing on frames enhances the toddler’s strength, builds confidence, and teaches him to help others, solve problems, and be prepared for uncertain circumstances.
Game’s the way - Yard Games, Lawn Games, Picnic Games
Play is fundamentally important for developing new-age skills like problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and creativity. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has enshrined the right to engage in play that is appropriate to the age of the child in Article 21.
Play is not just about having fun but about taking risks, experimenting, and testing boundaries. Outdoor play is beneficial in its own way for children. It exposes them to real-life situations and helps them absorb the goodness of nature.
A variety of outdoor games like yard games, lawn games, or picnic games, whichever way you like to address it, are amazingly interesting for toddlers. When playing outside, the toddler gets to explore multiple things at the same time. He also can play on his own and is secure from bumping into things, which can happen indoors quite often.
These games are usually played on a lawn with grass on the ground, in your backyard, or in a garden. You may arrange a picnic for the whole family and help your toddler enjoy your company. The large open area makes it an outdoorfun activity for all.
A few of the popular picnic cum lawn games include playing with a ball, running to catch someone, throwing discs, and playing with pets or animals. While playing these games, the toddler experiences an increased sense of curiosity, learning, and memory.
Parents playing with toddlers
A lot of parents wonder: how can kids be physically active at home. Shouldn’t they be outside to have more fun? But kids just want to play with their parents.
When parents play with their toddlers, it not only increases their happiness but also serves as an excellent rejuvenating and refreshing experience for the parents. With a never-than-before busy schedule, parents often fail to give their children deserving attention. Playing, especially outdoors, is a great way to boost parent-child relations, and they can bond better.
Through these activities, parents are able to see the world from the perspective of their toddlers and relate to their innocent selves. Play enables children and adults to be passionately and totally immersed in an activity of their choice, and to experience intense joy.
This is an opportunity for parents to engage with their children and also works as a stress buster in times of adversity.
15 super fun games for your toddler
With all the information on games and outdoor activities for your toddler, you might still be confused about where to begin.
Here’s a list of 15 super fun games that you can play with your toddler for their overall physical development:
- Hide and seek - Tickle your toddler’s curiosity by encouraging them to hide while you seek to catch them and vice-versa. Reward them when they find you.
- Swingball - Play swing ball with your little one and help him get energized.
- Treasure hunt - Use common items from your day-to-day life that the toddler recognizes and is fond of. Create a treasure trail where the toddler picks up a new clue that he knows well to finally reach the treasure, packed with his favorite goodies.
- Catch the ball - Use a soft and bouncy ball that you and your toddler can take turns to throw and catch.
- Climbing frames - Let your toddler reveal his true potential by climbing on the frames, in a natural environment to pump up his excitement and understand his full capabilities.
- Catch me if you can/Peek-a-boo - This is a favorite of all toddlers. Ask your kiddo to come and catch you and you two can take turns doing the same.
- Obstacle course - Create an obstacle course like a tunnel or semicircular rings and show your toddler first how to go past them. Then ask them to follow suit.
- Singing songs with actions - Sing a song like, ‘Wheels on the bus go round and round’, and make actions with your hands and legs such as those of a wheel by rolling your hands and involving the toddler, so that they mimic you.
- Rough and tumble play - Get a hold of your toddler, snuggle him, roll with him, and pretend to wrestle or fight. This is especially intriguing for the little ones.
- Hop a little - Hop like rabbits from one end to another to get your kiddo moving around.
- Sliding - Assist your toddler to go down a small slide, climb back up, and slide down again. Do this only when you are present to prevent falls and injuries.
- Kickball - Show your toddler to kick a ball and encourage him to follow you. The ball may go and hit a target like a teddy bear or a bottle filled with water.
- Bubble blast - Blow bubbles using a bubble gun that is easily available on the market, guide your toddler to follow the bubble trail, touch it, and burst the bubbles for a pleasure-filled experience.
- Command game - Your toddler might be able to listen and understand the words you speak and the commands you give him like sitting down or stopping. Give it the form of a game and ask your child to sit down, clap his hands, stamp his feet, turn around, etc. This is a fun physical activity for young children.
- Do the Hokey-Pokey - Similar to a command game, this game differs in the fact that your toddler is supposed to follow your actions. Sing the song, ‘You put your left leg in (show how you put it), you put your left leg out (show here too). You put your left leg in (show again) and shake it all about (show how you shake). Now do the Hokey-Pokey (raise your hands in the air and wiggle your fingers), and turn yourself around (turn), that’s what it’s all about.
All sorts of physical activities for kids are extremely important because toddlers develop at a rapid pace. Various activities like playing games, especially outdoor activities, are instrumental in their overall physical development.
With you by their side, playtime can be extremely fun-filled and full of learning. These activities introduce them to a new world filled with excitement, curiosity, and amazing discoveries.
Outdoor games have been shown to add much more value to a toddler’s development than indoor activities. But you can have all types of physical activities for kids at home as well. You can use a combination of both, but be sure to take your toddler outside for at least one hour each day.
Make sure you let him play in nature, with the soil, leaves, water, and, if possible, with a furry friend. Use playing equipment like swing sets, climbing frames, balls, rings, hula hoops, etc., to make him learn novel games. Physical activities for young children will teach them important life skills such as communication, teamwork, and negotiation in addition to developing their fine motor skills and strengthening their bones and muscles.
Outdoor games are also a great way to bond better with your child and establish a long-lasting loving and caring relationship.
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- Physical activity guidelines for children (under 5 years) available from NHS
- Toddler developmental milestones and safety available from Clevelandclinic
- Toddler health available from Mayoclinic
- Yogman M, Garner A, Hutchinson J, Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff RM, Baum R, Gambon T, Lavin A, Mattson G, Wissow L, Hill DL. The power of play: A pediatric role in enhancing development in young children. Pediatrics. 2018 Sep 1;142(3).
- An SJ. The effects of vestibular stimulation on a child with hypotonic cerebral palsy. Journal of physical therapy science. 2015;27(4):1279-82.
- Gull C, Goldenstein SL, Rosengarten T. Benefits and Risks of Tree Climbing on Child Development and Resiliency. International Journal of early childhood environmental education. 2018; 5(2):10-29.