Eight Fun Ways to Engage ECE Children in Exercise

Exercise is undoubtedly beneficial for people of all ages, and while small children are still too young to participate in structured exercise or sporting activities, there are plenty of things parents can do with their children to get them active from a young age. Recently, YCIS Puxi Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers Ms Stacey Gregor and Ms Grace Zhou shared eight fun and fantastic activities for parents and their ECE children to get their bodies moving!

1. Freeze Dancing

In this energetic game, parents play fun music that they and their children both enjoy and then dance along, stopping the music every 10-20 seconds and ‘freezing.’ As children grow or become familiar with the game, it can be made more difficult by freezing in more difficult poses or freezing for a longer period of time. 

2. Balancing in Line

To add a challenging and fun element to waiting in line, children can balance on one foot. They can then try switching feet. Can they balance on one foot with both hands on their head? How about balancing on tip toes…or on tip toes on one foot? How long can they balance for? These and other balancing activities help develop coordination and concentration, too! 

3. Acting Out a Favourite Book

Reading together is important for preparing and developing literacy, but what about when children can't quite sit still? Parents can suggest that the child “act it out!” For example, pretending to be an animal from the book, a seed growing into a tree, or a wiggly worm can all help children become more engaged while working off some extra energy. Giving children room to use their imaginations and create movements makes them feel that anything is possible! 


4.  Relishing the Rain

When it rains, parents can take their children to a green area or the yard outside, and let their children see how the raindrops hit an umbrella or splash on the ground. After the rain stops, the children can step into the small puddles, observe the raindrops covering the flowers and leaves, or dig a small channel to let the water drain away. This active exploration is a great way to learn and get moving at the same time!

5. Exploring Shadows

When the weather is fine and the sun is shining, children can go outside and discover their shadows in large open spaces. They can turn, move, or run around to see how the shadow changes. Parents can act as ‘shadow makers’, using themselves or objects to create shadows and make them disappear, and the children can try to chase after and catch the shadow. If the children can catch the shadow, they can have a chance to be shadow maker.

6. Catching the Wind

In large, open spaces, such as a park, you can take a thin plastic bag, open it against the wind and close it quickly, filling the bag with air. The child can then pat the air in the bag, learning how the air fills different containers. They can then try moving around to “catch the wind” themselves.


7. Raining Leaves

Parents can pick up some leaves and hold them in their hands. They can then raise their hands high and scatter the leaves, saying "It's raining!" The children can try to grab the leaves from the air before the leaves hit the ground. To make it more challenging, parents can run in front with children chasing behind.

8. Chasing in the Field

In a big outdoor space, parents can write a large ‘田’ (‘field’) character on the ground with chalk or brushed water, letting the children run along the lines. When the children run, parents can block different lines and chase the children. Parents should adjust their speed according to the children's running speed.

 

Although simple in essence, activities like these are a great way to engage children in physical activities whilst also honing other important skills and areas of learning, including discovering nature and physics, enhancing coordination and creativity, improving motor skills and linguistic skills (listening, following directions, etc.) among others. These kinds of movements and activities are genuinely helpful in nurturing active and inquisitive children, which are attributes that will serve them well throughout their lives.

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