As a parent, it is good to know that many things can be fun and physical if you simply change the approach like putting music on, jumping or creating movement. Since the attention span of your two to five-year-old is much shorter than your ten-year-old, be prepared to have a variety of activities on hand. Also, keep healthy snacks on hand, so you don’t lose momentum and head back indoors! Toddlers and preschoolers need to get outside! Leave the smartphone behind and move, groove and giggle together. Check out some easy games to have on hand – tape a list to your fridge and always have a ball, chalk, and bubbles within arm’s reach.
Animal Safari. Get the binoculars out and go on a safari treasure hunt! Take any little toy animals you have on hand, like mini-dinosaurs, eraser animals, lego or playmobil animals, and bury them in the garden or side yard. Set the kids free with plastic shovels and help them collect all the animals! Make it more fun by making animal noises or adding a timer.
Van Gogh Driveway Painting. Toddlers and preschool age kids will be occupied for a while with this artistic activity. Fill up a bucket with water and put various size paint brushes inside. Let them paint away on the driveway or sidewalk. Older kids can use water pistols to squirt designs. Be prepared to get wet!
Memory Ball. Each player needs a small, non-bouncy ball or bean bag and a good memory! The leader starts by attaching a number to an activity, for example, “1” throw the ball in the air and catch it. Then they continue to add numbers to new activities, like “2,” pass the ball around your body, “3,” throw the ball and clap your hands. Continue making rules for numbers of a predetermined amount. The higher you get, the harder it gets! Begin the game by starting at 1 and counting up, performing the movements at each number. You can play where everyone has a ball or bean bag and toss at the same time or use one ball and the players take turns passing the ball at each successful number remembered. Obviously, for young kids, you’ll need to keep it simple, but if you have older kids, you can make it more complicated.
Jump Right in. Make your own jump ropes by buying various lengths of quality rope from your hardware store, burn the edges with a lighter, and tie knots at the end. This is an inexpensive toy that will last a lifetime. Get creative and choreograph jump rope routines to songs!
Mini-Fitness Course. Have the smaller kids make up their own obstacle course by crawling or climbing over small objects. Each kid takes a turn at doing the course and creating their own design. Set a timer to motivate kids to reach their potential and change the tempo.
Two Square, yes, we know squares have four sides. This is similar to Four Square that older kids play. Draw a rectangle and divide it into two squares. Have the kids pass a medium-size ball that is easy to catch back and forth. It’s an easier game that the little ones can play alongside the big kid game, so they feel involved. You’d be surprised how much kids love to bounce and catch a ball!
Duck-Duck-Goose. No need to explain this one! Take the kids outside to see how much they still love this oldie but goodie.
Bubble POP. Sing it -pop goes the bubble, and the bubble goes pop! Take turns blowing bubbles and jumping, chasing, running or dancing in different ways to catch the bubbles. Model the approach you want – if you walk silly like Frankenstein, the kids must follow suit. This is a good way to work on fine motor skills while still having fun in the sun!
Guided Hopscotch Tour. Using chalk and hula-hoops, make a path on your driveway or sidewalk with circles of varying size and distance between each other. Block off the driveway with your car to make it safe. The kids will jump, skip or step from circle to circle depending on the distance between them until they reach the end. Have letters or numbers in each circle. The kids can count to that number, sing out the alphabet, or say a word that starts with a certain letter. Give them an opportunity to sing, jump and count. You can even extend your exploration around the house!
Follow the Leader: Singing “follow the leader, follow the leader” have the kid(s) follow you around. Everything the parent or leader does the kid does too. Include movements like skipping, hopping, galloping, side stepping, making different animal noises, etc. This is a good way to get younger kids moving in different ways and teaches them to pay attention to the leader. The sillier you make it, the longer they will play!
Remember little kids get bored a lot faster than their older siblings! Be prepared for this by having a list on hand or posted on the refrigerator. This will ensure you never run out of ideas when you’re outside and your toddler says, “I’m bored!” When all else fails, grab that spare ball or chalk and start movin’ and groovin’! Moms need to move too!