Raising an active toddler: Active Games

Spending time being active with your child has been shown to increase activity levels. Even babies whose mothers spend time being active with them have higher activity levels later in life.
As part of my pursuit to increase MissC's activity levels I have made an active effort to increase the time we spend playing active games together. Here are ten of our biggest hits

Sensory run
You can use a variety of different materials for this. Bubblewrap is always a popular choice at our house. We have also tried wrapping paper, alfoil and cardboard with great success.

Home ramp
A variation on sensory run. Use a large flattened piece of cardboard with paper or cushions underneath to make a ramp.

Active nursery rhymes
Singing nursery rhymes with your child doesn't have to be all quiet cuddles on the couch.
Great nursery rhymes for being active are:
Ring around the rosies
Row row your boat - sit facing your child and get them to pull themselves backwards and forwards. Let them be as exuberent as they like with this, MissC often ends up basically flat on her back.
- an alternate verse to this song, is 'rock rock rock your boat, gently to and fro, wibbidly wobbedly wibbidly wobbedly, into the water you go'. Get them to sit by themselves and rock themselves from side to side before they topple over.
Wee Willie Winkie: Run through the house - peeking through the windows and banging on the doors.
The Grand Old Duke of York: March through the house lifting toys up and down in tune to the song
London Bridge is Falling Down: Get them to crawl through your legs or if you feel like a stretch get on all fours and catch them as they crawl through.

Similar to nursery rhymes but with the assistance of your iPhone. You'll get the best success from songs that have instructions in them e.g. hokey pokey, can you stand on one foot and do the twist.

This is one we do while we're waiting for dinner to be ready. Basically you spin on the spot until someone calls out beep and then you collapse on the floor.

We do ours using a toy light saber her dad got for Christmas but wooden spoons work just as well. Back away or run away as they are fighting you to get them moving more. Set up toys at various heights that they can hit down in their battles.

Animal play

Pretending to be an animal is a well established way to get kids moving. The most popular game at our house is 'dog and cat' where one person is the dog woofing and chasing the cat who runs away all over the house.
Another popular game is 'tiger' where you crawl around the house roaring and leaping on unsuspecting toys.
Older toddlers can be asked to imitate the movements of animals e.g. elephant, kangaroo, frog.

Water play
It is hot where we are right now so this is a very popular request at the moment. We fill a wading pool with a small amount of water and she walks or crawls around in it splashing with her feet and hands. I try to encourage as much kicking, splashing and jumping as I can to make the play as active as possible.
In less warm weather, we have similar success with a small amount of water in the bath although you will need to be careful as baths are obviously more slippery.

This requires either a toy pram or shopping trolley. MissC has always insisted she is going 'shops' when she plays with her pram so this was a natural progression. Ask them to go to the shops and get 'toy that is easily accessible' when they return get them to get 'different toy that is easily accessible', repeat until trolley is full then get them to return them all.
For a longer game, load the pram or trolley up with small goods and take them to deliver them to the neighbours.

Endless wander
We do this around the streets in the evening to wear her out before bed. If you live in a difficult to walk area, a large park is a good location for this.
Take them outside and let them choose where to go and what to do. All you have to do is follow them and encourage them in their explorations. On ours we have looked at flowers, walked along curbs, looked down and run over drain gates, run through sprinklers and splashed in the resulting puddles and of course stopped at the park on our way home.


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