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Apr 13, 2023 4 min read

Preschool Exercises You Can Use in Your Child Care Center!

Leah Woodbury By: Leah Woodbury
preschooler exercising by running across a field

Did you know that preschoolers should be allowed 90 to 120 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity in each eight-hour day?

Such activity can be spread throughout the day by adding “quick moves” during transitions and to other curriculum time in addition to more in-depth skill building activities facilitated by teachers that children can do on their own during free play, according to recent research.

You know that preschoolers learn by playing. So let’s look at five fun exercises to get the preschoolers in your child care classrooms active!

1. Elevator Game

This game from Rising New York Road Runners spurs imagination and movement and requires no equipment! Participants pretend they are in an elevator with a different position for each floor.

Here’s how it works:

• Come up with body positions for each floor (such as the ground floor is lying on the ground, the 10th floor is jumping high).

• Make up a story that’s age-appropriate for preschoolers that involves riding an elevator. For example: “We arrive at at building and take the elevator to the fifth floor to start our day with circle time.” 

• Have the kids hold the position before moving to the next position.

2. Dance Party

preschoolers and their teacher dancing in a circle in their classroom

Hopping, twirling, jumping … dancing is a great exercise for inside or outside! Pick music that gives clear instructions or tells a funny story the kids can follow.

You can’t go wrong blasting “Shake Your Sillies Out” by the Learning Station! Check out the YouTube video here and wiggle  those waggles away.

Want more music ideas? Here’s a playlist on Spotify to get your preschoolers jamming!

And the Early Learning Ideas has a great list of songs that rhyme to help your kids with literacy as they dance.

3. Balloon Tennis

This fun game from Little Bins for Little Hands helps kids develop coordination and gross motor skills.

Use plastic fly swatters and as many balloons as you want and let your preschoolers hit the balloon back and forth. If that’s too hard, you can modify the game by asking them to keep the balloon in the air. 

4. Jump Rope

Jumping rope is a great exercise for preschoolers to improve coordination and get their hearts pumping.

Few preschoolers are able to double dutch, but there are plenty of ways to incorporate jump ropes into your exercise routines regardless of skill level. 

three kids playing with a jump rope in the middle of a plaza

The Inspired Treehouse shared this fun jump-rope activity: Have two kids stretch the jump rope out on the floor with one child holding either end.  Tell them to shake the rope without letting go, keeping it down on the floor.  The jump rope becomes a “snake” in this fun game!  The rest of the kids have to run toward the rope and jump over it without touching the snake!

5. Dribble a Ball Around Cones

Don’t be worried if your preschoolers aren’t ready for the NBA to try this exercise. Dribbling a ball, or chasing it when the ball goes awry, is a great way to work on hand-eye coordination as well as keep their legs moving!

Put plastic cones a straight line or circle. If kids are having fun dribbling with their hands, that’s great! If they’re having trouble, give them a small, plastic bat to push the ball around the cones.  

Balls not working? Try plastic bottles or bean bags!

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2022 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics 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. 

Need help with activities for toddlers? Check out this list of ideas!

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, an activity that is designed for preschoolers, 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