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101 Ways to Get Toddlers Moving

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The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) wants to get your preschooler moving! It's never too early for kids to start exploring and discovering -- which will help them acquire motor skills and increase their physical activity. Check out these 101 tips, which were collected by early-childhood experts.

kids playing hopscotch

Provide Developmentally AppropriateMovement Opportunities

1. Appreciate the important role of movement in young children's development.
2. Recognize children's differing movement capabilities and promote learning experiences that challenge each child to move to the next level of individual development.
3. Provide daily physical activities for infants that enable them to explore movement and the environment.
4. Each day, plan for at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity and from 60 minutes to several hours of unstructured physical activity for toddlers.
5. Each day, plan for at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity and from 60 minutes toseveral hours of unstructured physical activity for preschoolers.
6. Foster a feeling of success within each child through movement.

Maximize the Environment for Play

7. Each day, take children outdoors to play as much as possible.
8. Paint game markings (such as hopscotch squares) on safe surfaces.
9. Offer natural elements (such as grass and trees) in the outdoor play space.
10. When space allows, organize chase-and-flee games to raise children's heart rates.
11. Create safe indoor spaces for physical activity. Even small spaces work for movements such as jumping, twisting, dancing and running in place.
12. Use soft pieces of equipment (e.g., lightweight balls for throwing at wall targets;beanbags for tossing and catching) for indoor play.
13. Play age-appropriate music to liven up the environment and inspire movement.
14. Decorate the walls with images of young children being active.
15. Plan several walking field trips to nearby parks.
16. Secure equipment in easy-access storage bins.

Be Creative with Equipment

17. Collect age-appropriate manipulative equipment (such as balls, beanbags and
18. Make homemade equipment (such as sock balls and yarn balls).
19. Modify equipment for greatersuccess(e.g., underinflate beach balls).
20. Use ordinary objects as equipment (e.g., wide masking tape as a "balance beam").
21. Teach children how to use one piece of equipment in multiple ways (e.g., rolling, bouncing, tossing, throwing and dribbling a ball).
22. Use equipment to teach spatial awareness and relationships (e.g., over, under, around).
23. Show children how to use equipment creatively. For example, a jump rope does not have to pass over one's head; it can be placed on the ground for jumping over or squiggled at ground level for slightly more challenging jumping.
24. Give children a variety of equipment and let them make up their own games.
25. Use props such as puppets and costumes to add excitement.
26. Have scooters, tricycles and riding toys available outdoors.

Make Safety a Priority

27. Provide adequate and active supervision.
28. Use age-appropriate equipment that is the right sizeand weight.
29. Mark and teach about play-space boundaries.
30. Establish start-and-stop signals and a process to bringchildren back to you (e.g., the sound of a horn or when the musicstops playing).
31. Discuss playground rules and the consequences for breaking them.
32. Inspect the outdoor play space regularly to identify and eliminate safety hazards.
33. Check environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, humidity, ground surface) before going outside to play.
34. Practice sun safety by using shade and sunscreen.
35. Familiarize yourself with the children's medical conditionsas they affect physical activity.
36. Have an emergency action plan in place.
37. Keep a first-aid kit on hand.
38. Equip yourself to communicate easily with staff who are indoors(e.g., use a walkie-talkie).

Use Play-to-Teach Social Skills

39. Use cooperative activities to create a supportive environment.
40. Use games to teach the concept of buddy, partner, pal.
41. Choose games that keep most students active, instead of low-activity games like Red Rover and Duck, Duck, Goose.
42. Model the use of positive language during game play.
43. Teach children to encourage and praise one another.
44. When introducing an activity, model how to share and take turns.
45. Involve children who have been excluded by others.
46. Help children resolve conflict through discussion and compromise.
47. Keep instruction and directions simple and concise.
48. Position yourself to be seen and heard when giving instructions.
49. Use quick and nonthreatening methods to place students into pairs or small groups (e.g., "Stand back-to-back with someone who is wearing the same color shirt as you").
50. Make the process of distributing and collecting equipment part of the activity.

Check out the final 51 tips!

69 comments so far | Post a comment now
The Down-to-Earth doctor September 24, 2010, 12:19 PM

Great article! As a busy holistic family doctor for 25 years, I’m quite concerned with all the physically inactive children I see. These are wonderful tips. I’d also suggest that parents set a good example too by getting daily physical activity. The kids are watching and learning!

The Down-to-Earth doctor September 24, 2010, 12:23 PM

Great article! As a busy holistic family doctor I’m concerned about all the physically inactive children I’m seeing. These are excellent tips. I also suggest parents set a good example by aiming for at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. The kids are watching and learning!

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