My two toddlers are a handful and keep me on my toes. If it is quiet in my house, then either they are napping or there is trouble brewing! However, even though your kids may be ‘active’, they need a variety of physical activities to help them develop.
Kids running around, playing and doing ‘stuff’ is a great start. Some children are self-motivated to play and explore. Other children, like my youngest, crave direction and tasks to help them bring out their playful side.
To keep my twosome active and busy, I have a variety of physical activities I use throughout a week. Here are five of my favorites.
1. Visit a local park
The first way you can give your toddler a great workout is by simply going to a local park. Walk with them, start a simple game of hide and seek, stomp in puddles, have a picnic, climb rocks, enjoy the playground (if there is one), and so much more. Recently, we went to the park and made paper airplanes. We folded and painted, then we climbed to the top of a hill and let them fly. My two had lots of fun simply up and down the hill fetching the planes so I could throw them again.
2. Indoor obstacle course
Another fun way to exercise your toddler is great for a rainy day: create an indoor obstacle course. Use cushions, chairs, and other objects that challenge your kids to problem solve. Set it up so there are options to go under, over, or around different parts of the course (mine eventually started going through the obstacles, so I had to get creative using boards with a bit of foam on them. You can also use old boxes and connect them by cutting holes on the sides. Whatever you can do that will get them to move their little bodies in different directions safely.
3. Ball games
Another popular activity in our house is ball games. Start with rolling a ball across the floor and watch how they respond. Usually kids will try to emulate what you do and will try to roll it back. Make it fun and surprising. As they get comfortable with a moving ball, try bouncing it or kicking it (obviously, do this outside or in a playroom… remember to create boundaries). Next, get a nerf basketball net or a small hockey net and show them how to aim or put the ball in the net. Eventually, work up to a game of catch (or, as happens in my house, chase the ball while giggling hysterically).
Put on some toddler-friendly music that has an easy-to-follow beat, and dance with them. Some kids are born with a need to dance and others need to be shown, but I’ve yet to meet a toddler who won’t dance to the right music. Although perhaps not kid-friendly, my oldest has latched on to ‘Uptown Funk’ and dances around singing it without the music!
Not only is swimming fantastic exercise, it is a vital life skill and a great way to bond with your toddlers. Early swim lessons help build a foundation towards a lifetime appreciation of the water, as well as other sports and physical activities. If you, as an adult or supervisor, need a little help teaching your child to swim, you might want to pick up a DVD or book such as Waterproof Kids. It helps parents update their water safety awareness and provides techniques on introducing kids to water progressively. If you are using your own pool, be sure you keep it clean with proper chemicals and a pool vacuum to keep your little ones from getting sick.
Bonus: Visit a farm or a zoo
This is somewhat akin to visiting a park, but it engages your toddler’s brain, especially if the farm or zoo allows children to touch the animals. My two love visiting our local petting zoo so they can visit all their favorite animals (my oldest has named the youngest goat, “Goaty”). Here they can explore, touch, and get dirty without a lot of stress. It’s a fun morning or afternoon escape for everyone.
Finding activities to help your toddler grow and develop isn’t hard, but it does take a bit of creativity. What I love about all of the ideas above is that it is shared time between parent and child. Not only are we building up our kids but we are developing a stronger bond with them.
What activities do you recommend for your toddler? I’d love to hear about them.