Think back to your most fond childhood memories- play time! That is what makes being a child so much fun and every child deserves active play. I’m not talking about video games, I’m talking about being physically active while they play. First we will talk about the definition of active play and then take a look at the benefits. Looking for fun and engaging ways to get your kids moving? This blog post offers a list of active play examples for children that are both fun and beneficial for their health and development.
What Is Active Play And Why Is It Important?
Most schools have less than 30 minutes of recess a day. Combine this with the increased screen time that kids are getting these days and you find a lot of kids who need more active play. In fact, MedlinePlus reports, “Most American children spend about 3 hours a day watching TV. Added together, all types of screen time can total 5 to 7 hours a day.” Yikes! Clearly, we as parents and caregivers need to prioritize making active play happen on a daily basis.
Active Play Definition
So what exactly is it anyway? Well, the active play definition is fairly literal. It refers to play that is physically active. One Health Unit defines it as, “Active play involves physical movement during play and is natural for children and youth. It’s usually unplanned, self-directed and fun. Active play lets children and youth try new things, test their own abilities, and enjoy being active.”
Whether active play is free play or involves planned activities, it should be fun time for kids to engage in moving about and having fun. Both types of physically active play are valuable and children. Furthermore, kids will likely enjoy and benefit from having both unplanned active play time and active play ideas provided for them. Presenting active play games and/or activities may be especially beneficial when it is a completely new idea to them. Active play examples may help get them started.
Benefits of Active Play
How can you increase your child’s activity without making it about exercise? The answer is active play. With these ideas for active play, you and your kids will be getting exercise with the added bonus of it being fun at the same time. Not only is active play an opportunity for your child to have fun, but it is also important to child development. Active play in early childhood helps to promote physical activity, improve gross motor skills, and encourage socialization. In other words, play time is important to helping your child development in many ways.
The Genius of Play points out there are are actually 6 important benefits of play. The first benefit of active play is fairly obvious as being physically active helps your child to develop physically. In order words, activity helps kids grow stronger and healthier. The second benefit of active play is emotional, “During play, kids learn to cope with emotions like fear, frustration, anger, and aggression in a situation they control. They can also practice empathy and understanding.” Kids also become more social and improve their communication skills during play. Furthermore, free play allows them a chance to exercise their creativity and imagination which helps develop their cognitive skills as well.
Increasing your child’s physical activity will help them to find calmness at the end of the day and result in an improvement in the quality of their sleep. Building muscles also helps them build strong bones.
Active play time is important to allowing children to develop new skills, practice skills, and learn the way that things work and don’t work. Play time is actually learning time for kids! Say goodbye to boredom and hello to a healthier, happier child with active play!
Active Play Examples
Do you find it challenging to keep your children entertained and active? With screens and technology competing for their attention, it can be tough to get kids moving. But fear not, we’ve got you covered with several active play examples for kids.
As I mentioned before, there are two types of active play- free play and structured. Both types of active play are valuable and should be included in your child’s week. Active play can be as simple as turning your child loose in the backyard or at the local playground to play in any way they like. However if you need some active play examples to get you started, here are a few.
Another classic game that never gets old is Freeze Tag. This game is easy to set up and can be played with a group of kids of any size. One person is designated as “it” and they chase the other players around. When “it” tags another player, that player has to freeze in place until they are unfrozen by another player crawling through their legs. The game continues until all players are frozen, and then a new person becomes “it”. Freeze Tag promotes physical activity and coordination, as well as strategic thinking as players strategize how to unfreeze their frozen teammates.
Hula Hoop is a game that has stood the test of time. It’s a classic activity that everyone knows and loves. The best part about Hula Hoop is that it’s a fun way to promote physical activity while also helping children develop their hand-eye coordination and balance.
To play, each child is given their own Hula Hoop and challenged to keep it spinning for as long as possible. Kids can show off their skills and impress their peers as they try to keep the Hoop going. It’s also a great activity for group play, as children can try to keep multiple Hula Hoops going at once.
But as much fun as Hula Hooping can be, it’s important to remember that safety should always come first. Kids should be reminded to keep a safe distance from each other to avoid colliding. Additionally, it’s important to play on a soft surface like grass or a mat to avoid any injuries from falls.
Hopscotch is a timeless game that has been enjoyed by generations of kids. With its simple rules and minimal equipment needed, it’s easy to see why it remains a popular favorite. Hopscotch is not only a fun way to pass the time, but it’s also a great way to improve balance, coordination, and agility.
To play hopscotch, all you need is a piece of chalk and a flat surface. Draw a hopscotch pattern on the ground with numbered squares that players have to hop through while avoiding stepping on the lines. The first player throws a small object, like a rock or beanbag, into the first square and hops through the course, picking up the object on the way back. The game continues as players take turns throwing the object into the next square and completing the course, with the winner being the first to complete all the squares.
But as with any physical activity, it’s important to keep safety in mind. While hopscotch isn’t as high-intensity as some of the other games on this list, kids should still be reminded to avoid getting too close to each other to prevent accidents.
Obstacle courses are a fantastic way to get kids active and engaged in physical activity. Not only do they provide an opportunity for kids to challenge themselves and build physical and mental endurance, but they also encourage creativity and imagination. Kids can create obstacle courses using whatever materials they have available, from cones and hula hoops to blankets and cardboard boxes.
One fun and simple way to create an indoor obstacle course is to lay out a path of pillows or cushions on the floor and have kids jump from one to the next. Another idea is to set up a series of stations with different challenges, like crawling under chairs or jumping over a line of stuffed animals. It’s important to make sure that the obstacle course is safe and age-appropriate, and that kids are supervised while playing.
After the high-energy fun of an obstacle course, balloon volleyball is a great way to wind down and focus on coordination and teamwork.
Balloon Volleyball is a fun and interactive game that is perfect for both indoor and outdoor play. The game is played with a balloon instead of a ball and can be played with two or more players. The objective of the game is to keep the balloon in the air and prevent it from touching the ground.
To set up the game, you will need to designate a space for the volleyball court and create a net using a piece of string or ribbon. Once the net is set up, players can stand on either side of the net and begin playing. The game can be played with a set number of points or as a continuous game until the players tire out.
Balloon Volleyball is a great way to wind down after a high-energy activity like an obstacle course. It helps to improve coordination and teamwork among players.
Animal Relay Races
Animal Relay Races are a great way to keep kids active while engaging their competitive spirit. This game is perfect for larger groups, and can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. To begin, divide children into teams and instruct them to line up in relay formation. Assign each team an animal and explain that they will be racing to a designated finish line while mimicking their assigned animal’s movements. For example, if a team is assigned the sea turtle, they must crawl on their stomachs to the finish line.
Animal Relay Races not only encourage physical activity, but also build teamwork and communication skills. Players must work together to achieve a common goal and communicate effectively to ensure a smooth transition from one team member to the next.
After playing Animal Relay Races, the energy of the group will likely still be high, making it the perfect time to introduce the classic game of Kickball.
Kickball is a game that has been enjoyed by children for generations, and for good reason. Not only does it provide a fun and energetic way to get kids moving, but it also encourages teamwork and healthy competition. Players work together to score points and help their team succeed, all while getting a great workout in the process.
To play kickball, all you need is a ball and some open space. Divide children into two teams and have them take turns kicking the ball and running the bases. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
More Active Play Ideas:
Here are some excellent suggestions for combining play and exercise. These ideas for active play include both cardio and strengthening components which are both beneficial. Strengthening exercises improve lean muscle mass which burns more energy and cardio improves heart health.
- Water play
- Building a large race course for their cars and racing them
- Backyard Games
- Catching bubbles before they pop
- Building forts
- Role playing
- Play battles
- Frog jump races
The action of crouching down and jumping up is a perfect exercise in strengthening leg muscles. Doing the sound effects adds to the fun!
- Dancing statues
Dancing is a great way to exercise but it is even better if there are doing dancing statues where they have to freeze when the music stops. If they move, they are out. This is excellent interval training where they increase their heart rate when dancing and then bring it down again when they stop. Bit like burning gas in your car if you are stopping and starting all the time.
- Hopping or jumping on the spot
See who can hop or jump the longest. Hopping in particular is good because it helps kids with their balance. Or jump rope.
- Keepings Off AKA Monkey In The Middle
A game of keeping the ball from one person in the middle and the ball is thrown without that person getting it. If the person in the middle gets the ball then the person who threw the ball is now the one in the middle.
- Musical chairs
Lots of running around involved as well as sitting down and getting up again in a squatting action which is good for the legs.
- Treasure hunt
Teams are great to keep them moving at a fast pace as they hunt.
Biking or with your kids is a great way to get active. They can use their training wheels if they are still learning.
Taking a journey on their foot powered scooters is another great way to get in some active play.
Bring Active Play To Local Communities
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the lives of children, especially those growing up in poverty in America. They have collaborated with partners to build, open or improve nearly 16,000 playgrounds and engaged more than one million volunteers. Founder and CEO Darell Hammond says, “…nothing is more essential to a child’s health and happiness over a lifetime than safe places to explore, and imagine, and create. The thought of a child not having safe places to explore and play breaks my heart. Get your community, youth group, or service organization involved.
Active play for childhood development is not only a great way to keep kids entertained, but they also provide numerous physical and social benefits. From improving gross motor skills to promoting socialization, these games are perfect for children of all ages and abilities. So next time your little ones say they’re bored, pull out one of these active play ideas and watch as they become more engaged through movement. Remember, investing in your child’s health and development is always worth it. And as they say, “play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.”
Get your kids outdoors for active play! Where are your favorite places to bring your children for outdoor play? What are some of their favorite active play ideas?