Getting Children Moving Indoors

Parent Tips
By Sophia Espinoza, Senior Manager of Learning and Curriculum Design

Now more than ever, children are spending time indoors, but that doesn’t mean that they should have less opportunities for movement during the day. As many parents and educators know, getting in exercise during the day isn’t just about keeping kids healthy, but is crucial in getting their energy out so that they can be regulated and productive. Movement also helps fight boredom, improves brain function, and supports children’s emotional wellbeing.

This week we are featuring our song “If You’re Happy and You Know it/ Si Estas Feliz,” which encourages children to move while learning emotion vocabulary in English and Spanish. Let’s clap, stomp and more with ideas for movement activities indoors.

These activities are perfect for preschoolers but if you have children of different ages, they can be easily modified.

  1. Musical Chairs - It’s important to establish agreements (rules) before starting musical chairs because it can quickly become counterproductive if children’s energy levels get out of control! It works best to create agreements that tell kids what they can do, not what they can’t do. For example, instead of a “no pushing” agreement, you can tell kids that they should keep their hands to themselves.
  1. Freeze Dance - As with musical chairs, make sure to come up with agreements beforehand.
    If You’re Happy and You Know it/ Si Estas Feliz” and other Canticos songs are perfect for this activity! 
  1. Indoor Obstacle Course - This is a great opportunity to practice gross motor skills like hopping, taking big steps, and hand-eye coordination. You can use everyday items, like:
    • Pillows can be stepped on as targets or stepped over/around as obstacles  
    • Chairs and boxes can be crawled under/through 
    • Small items can be used as cones for a zig zag run 
    • Hula hoops and similar items can be used for an agility run 
  1. Tape Shape Game - Make tape shapes on the ground several feet apart, like a circle, square, triangle etc. You can use other items as markers but making the shapes is part of the fun, and you have the option of keeping them on the ground after the game is done and reusing them. To play, have children move from one shape to the next using a special movement, like:
    • Frog hop (crouched down with hands touching the ground)
    • Bear crawl (on all fours with hips up high above the head)
    • Crab walk (more challenging - of all fours but belly up)
    • Bunny jump (hopping with knees bent and feet together)

Make sure to adjust these games to make them work for your space. Here are a few last suggestions:

  • Do these activities with kids as often as you can, so that you model the right movements, embody the belief that exercise is valuable, and make it a whole-family activity
  • Start by picking one day a week to exercise, and then slowly work your way up as needed.
  • Let kids have a say in what movement games you are playing and they will be more engaged. Find a way that makes this work for your family. For example, your children could take turns picking the game, or you could give them one of two choices that work best for that moment.

Don't forget—no matter what games you chose to play, just make sure to get your kids moving everyday!


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