Physical Activity for Toddlers – Keeping them Moving

Making physical activity a normal part of your child’s everyday experience can start at an early age. When choosing these activities for your child, no matter how early you start, make sure they are FUN. If your child is enjoying and engaging with the activity, they’re more likely to want to continue doing these physical activities in the future, enjoyable activities are also more likely to increase their motor skills.

Activities for Children 0 – 2 Years Old

Between the ages of 0-12 months, babies need plenty of opportunities for free movement, that being said it should always be in a safe environment. Types of common activities would be things such as rolling, sitting up, crawling, pulling up, reaching, and eventually, walking. Whether these activities occur inside or outside is completely up to you, however being outside can provide endless opportunities to use their “big muscles”.

Before they can walk, even tiny babies like to stretch and play. By using a large blanket on the floor, or grass outside, it is a safe and clean option for “tummy time”. NB: “Tummy time happens when your baby lies on his tummy with weight on his forearms. Tummy time builds head, neck and upper body strength for when baby is older. Your baby should do it a lot each day” (taken from raisingchildren.net.au).

Another use for blankets on the floor/ground is a safe place for your baby to learn to roll, creep, crawl, and sit. Using a toy, just out of baby’s reach, encourages them to use extra effort to reach the object and improve physical development. The Raising Children website suggests that “great low-cost tummy time toys include things to grab and hold like old boxes. Another idea is plastic containers with things that rattle inside… Bright colours, drawings of dots or squares or stars, shiny surfaces, changing textures and different sounds can also interest your child.”

Other games which can encourage your baby to look around and be active are learning to clap, looking around at different objects above them, reaching, singing to them, playing action games like peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake, or even just talking to them. Always remember that it is important to ensure that the area you are placing them on the floor or ground is hazard free, and remember to stay with them so you know things are kept safe.

Once they are able to walk, you can encourage them simply by letting them walk as often as possible. You can use this time to look for objects around them as well as encourage their movement; help them climb a slippery dip, or sit on a safe swing at a local play ground. This may help them to build their confidence as well as their balance. As a side note, this can also pave the way for them to learn how to climb stairs. 

Physical Activities for Children 2 – 5 Years Old 

  • Games involving different types of movements: chasing bubbles, rolling balls or socks, walking along chalk lines, gathering shells or pebbles, or different objects of the same colour, jumping on or over puddles or cracks in the ground
  • Make music with instruments, or improvised instruments such as cooking pots and wooden spoons. Clap and sing, encourage dancing and rhythm
  • Invent silly walks, or play follow the leader, leap frog, or fly around like a bird
  • Use a large, soft ball to practise catching, hitting, bouncing and kicking. Start with something small and easy to hold like a little bean bag or tennis ball. When spaces aren’t safe for balls, some rolled-up socks can be good for this.
  • Leave the car at home and walk to a local park, the library, or shopping centre. Be adventurous and encourage their walking
  • Go outside and play with toys such as trucks, doll prams, or age appropriate tricycles/scooters, or walking aids 

 

At Angel’s Paradise we encourage our students to get involved in fun, physical activities as a part of living a healthy lifestyle.