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Apr 8, 2024 6 min read

10 Activities to Keep Kids Active During Move More Month

Leah Woodbury By: Leah Woodbury
Child plays in tunnel to get exercise.

April is Move More Month, and it’s the perfect time to inspire little ones in your child care and daycare centers to hop, skip, jump and dance their way to better health!

Toddlers should be active three or more hours daily, or about 15 minutes every hour they are awake, according to the American Academy of PediatricsAnd national guidance for preschool programs calls for providing at least two opportunities a day for physical activity, totaling 60 to 90 minutes. A study by the AAP found that 74% of child care programs did provide enough opportunities for physical activity, only half gave kids the recommended amount of time, and just 43% gave them both enough opportunities and enough time, according to a HealthDay article. 

Let’s take a look at some activities that blend fun with fitness for children of all ages, from babies to preschoolers!

1. Morning Movement Circles

Start each day with a morning movement circle to warm up those tiny muscles. Use songs and stretches designed for young children to make it playful and effective. Sing lyrical prompts that engage both the body and mind like “Simon says” with a fitness twist or “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” at different speeds to get their blood pumping.

2. Obstacle Course Adventures

Create an indoor or outdoor obstacle course that challenges but is age-appropriate. For the younger kiddos, tunnels to crawl through and soft cones to toddle around are perfect. For the older ones, add a hopscotch area, balance beams and sack races. Encourage imagination by theming the course like a jungle safari or a space exploration adventure.

3. Storytime Stretch

Who says storytime has to be sedentary? Pick books that encourage movement and have the children act out parts of the tale. Stories with animals are great for this — jump like a frog, stretch tall like a giraffe or wiggle like a fish. Mix learning with play and watch their enthusiasm soar!

4. Garden Fitness Fun

Why not instill a love for gardening along with an appreciation for fitness? Assign each child a plant to take care of. Taking their plants for a “walk” in a wagon to sunny spots, digging in the soil for planting and stretching for watering are excellent ways to incorporate gentle movement.

5. Dance Parties

Preschool class dances to get exercise.

Organize random dance parties! Use various music genres to expose the children to different rhythms. Encourage freestyle dancing or teach simple choreographies. Enjoy laughter and delight as they boogie to the beat and increase their heart rate.

6. Fitness Tracker Charts

Introduce a simple, visual fitness tracker for the older kids to record their daily activities. Offer stickers or stamps for each completed activity. Check out this printable fitness tracker from Nourish Interactive to help kids in daycare stay on track. This will not only motivate them to keep moving but also teach them about goal-setting and achievement.

7. Yoga for the Young

Children do yoga poses.

Yoga isn’t just for grown-ups! Teach children animal-named yoga poses and fun breathing exercises. Use imaginative narratives to hold their attention and guide them through each pose. This promotes flexibility and a peaceful state of mind.

The tree pose is exciting for toddlers who mastering walking and running, and anything new that they can learn to do with their legs makes them feel like a big boy or girl! 

Hold onto the toddler’s hand and encourage the child to lift one leg up and touch their other leg with it. Eventually, once toddlers gain their balance, they can lift the foot up without holding your hand.

The benefits of tree pose include helping to stretch the thighs, torso and shoulders as well as strengthen the ankles, calves and abdominal muscles.

YouTube is full of great videos of yoga for kids. This 15-minute class by Yoga For Kids with Alissa Kepas is fun for toddlers and even includes buzzing like a bee!

8. Relays & Races

Organize relay races that require teamwork and quick movement. Egg-and-spoon races, three-legged races, or simple sprints with baton passes are great ways to instill a sense of friendly competition and physical exertion.

When you’re thinking about designing your own obstacle course, consider the various elements that make it both fun and challenging, according to the play kit company Lovevery

It suggested including the following in an obstacle course: 

  • something to jump to (spots marked on the ground), over (a rope or a line on the ground) and into (hoops or chalk circles)
  • something to crawl through or under (a play tunnel, table or chair)
  • something to walk on carefully (a board laid flat on the ground)
  • something to climb over (pillows, bean bag chairs or large stuffed animals)
  • something to wind their way around (cones on the ground to weave through)
  • something to run to — you can have the obstacle course finish with a short sprint into your arms 

Think about what the toddlers in your care can do physically and don’t be afraid to get creative!

9. Play Ball!

Baby chases a soccer ball.

Any games involving a ball help in enhancing hand-eye coordination and motor skills. From rolling to catching and kicking, use soft balls for younger children and introduce more challenging games like dodgeball or kickball for the older groups.

Sitting and bouncing on a therapy ball “wakes up” the muscles along the spine, according to Your Kids Table.  And rocking side to side or back and forth strengthens more core muscles.

Bouncing on a hop ball is another fun core and balance exercise that also helps with hand strength.

And you can set up an indoor basketball game with crumpled up newspaper as balls. Use a laundry basket or cardboard box as hoops!

10. Cool Down with Crafts

After lots of moving, cool down with crafts related to health and fitness. Have kids trace their hands on paper then attach cutouts of healthy food or create medals that celebrate their fitness achievements.

This mobile that teaches the four main food groups is a fun way to teach nutrition. When making the craft, plan a lunch for the children in your care that has all four food groups.  Talk about what their favorite foods in each group might be to get them excited about eating healthy.

Coming up with developmentally appropriate activities for children in child care settings can be time-consuming and difficult. That’s where Procare Early Learning, an online curriculum solution to address the needs of daycares, preschools and early learning teachers, can help! 

Check out this Procare Early Learning lesson plan you can incorporate this spring. Want something active for this fall? Give pumpkin bowling a try!

This 100% digital offering is seamlessly embedded into Procare and gives teachers everything they need to provide high-quality instruction for infants to pre-K at their fingertips.

No more expensive books, binders or kits, no long hours preparing lessons and no stress for the teachers – just log in, organize pre-loaded lessons per classroom and by age group and let the learning begin! 

Request your demo today to see what an all-digital curriculum can do for your child care business!

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Leah Woodbury

Leah Woodbury is the head of content at Procare Solutions. Her job includes writing about topics that matter to child care professionals and finding ways to help them do their important work. She’s a mom of two who loves getting updates about what her preschooler is doing during the day via the Procare child care mobile app!

Leah Woodbury