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Let’s Get Moving: Indoor and Outdoor Physical Activities

Take time to enjoy playing outdoors for at least 20 minutes each day. Shorter increments spread throughout the day work well, too,  and can be a nice way to take some instructional activities to new settings. Here are just a few ideas to do indoors or outdoors to help your child be more active!

Infants

  • Place your infant on their back, allowing them to move their arms and legs.
  • Create safe spaces for your infant to roll and move. Spread out a blanket for them to lay on their backs or tummies. As they become more mobile, place things in front of them to climb up or over.
  • Provide places where babies can see themselves in an mirror or shiny object and mimic their actions and actions of others.
  • Babies love sounds! Sit them in a group and give them each a rattle or similar safe, sound-producing object. Sing, shake, and dance!
  • Hold toys or rattles above your infant’s head and encourage them to reach for them (2-3 months old).
  • Blow bubbles and watch their reactions, blowing them close enough so that older babies can try and touch them.

Toddlers

  • Use open physical spaces that encourage movement. Provide soft or over-sized balls that are easy to manipulate.
  • Set up objects that act as baskets to toss a soft ball into—like a medium to large box or laundry basket.
  • Push and pull toys are a good way to move around and have some support as they become competent walkers and navigators.
  • Use large muscles to move and imitate familiar things: jump like a bunny, fly like a bird, or crawl like a worm.
  • Use covers to pans as cymbals or a plastic bowl and spoon as a drum for an impromptu parade. March around!
  • Blow bubbles and let your toddler pop them. Talk with your toddler about how they “pop them up high in the air” or “way down low on the ground.”

Preschoolers

  • Provide spaces and equipment that encourage active movement and provides purpose as they climb, run, jump, and gallop. Encourage both independent and group activities.
  • Define space by putting up objects for targets and set boundaries using cones or something similar. Design play activities within these boundaries that allows for play with balls, practice running, kicking, or bouncing.
  • Pick pictures of animals out of a book or magazine and move like those animals (for example, wiggle like a snake, jump like a kangaroo, and gallop like a horse).
  • Play the freeze game! Dance to the music. Freeze when it stops. Or, give movement directions such as “Freeze.” For instance, “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. Freeze!” or “Jump, jump, jump. Freeze!”
  • Fill different-sized containers with bubble solution. Provide a variety of objects that can be used for making bubbles. Have them experiment and see what works best. Try coloring the bubbles with food color and catching them on paper!

For more information about supporting a child’s development, visit helpmegrowmn.org.

Portions of this content, developed by Help Me Grow Minnesota, may have previously appeared elsewhere.
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