Fun, easy ideas for home to develop physical health, emotional & mental wellbeing. Here are useful links.
Make a ‘Get Fit’ game. You need ten pieces of paper or card. Draw a stick figure on each doing the suggested activities below, or write the numbers 1-10 (or put number dots on each piece of paper). Shuffle the cards. When you turn a card over, everyone has to do the exercise for ten seconds. Do it the way that works best for you and your child. Involve them in making the cards. Another method is to use a dice.
Suggested activities for the cards: star jumps, skipping, hopping, spinning round, running on the spot, high knees on the spot, crouch down stretch up, dancing on the spot, touching toes, side to side.
Obstacle course – Use your imagination to create an obstacle course. Kitchen chairs can be tunnels, cushions can be stepping stones. There are lots of possibilities!
Animal Walk – Inside or out, encourage your child to slither like a snake, hop like a frog, gallop like a horse, or walk like a bear on all fours. Skills developed: hopping, galloping.
Wet Sponge Designs – On a warm day, gather up lots of sponges, provide a tub of water for endless resoaking, and have your kids throw their sponges on a wall or on a cement surface to make designs. Sponges can also be used to “paint” walls. Skills developed: throwing.
Run Away From the Monster Kids love a game of chase, especially with a parent or other adult they trust. A game of running from a “scary” monster will involve much squealing with delight. Skills developed: running, dodging, agility.
Getting Active – Early Years Scotland have produced a great leaflet on ways to get active with your child easily.
Healthy Eating – Early Years Scotland tips on how to promote healthy eating at home.
Simon/Simone Says – While the rules are simple, the options for movement are endless. Simon can have kids jumping like a kangaroo, standing as tall as a house, making funny faces, standing on one foot, or waving their hands over their heads. Skills developed: multiple depending on the leader’s actions (jumping, balancing, hopping, etc.)
Road safety – Don’t forget about the importance of road safety. Most of our children are aware of Ziggy. Here is the Ziggy website, with stories, songs and activities linked to road safety.
Ball Kicks – Balls are a staple for so many games and activities. Using different types and sizes of balls, have your child see how far they can kick, or play goalie in front of a wall or fence and see if your child can kick the ball past you. Skills developed: kicking.
Go on a bear hunt – Not just a fabulous story which children love to read and sing along with. There’s also opportunity to make the whole song more active. Act out the different motions: swim across the river. Pretend to go through the snowstorm. Stumble through the forest. Run away from the bear! Climb the stairs. Hide under the covers at the end! Watch Michael Rosen reading it here.
Create a maze – Use whatever you have (sellotape, string, wool) to make a maze or path to follow on the floor. Make it a narrow ‘corridor’ maze (try not to touch the sides!) or a path to follow. Have fun with it.
Play follow the leader – This classic game never gets old, and you don’t need any equipment to play. Let your child take turns being the leader, directing the others to match their every move. Encourage them to get active by hopping, skipping, crawling, shuffling and using their imaginations.
Dance Party – Indoors or outdoors, turn up the music, use lights or decorations for ambiance, and let your kids twist, macarena, floss, dance like their favourite animal, or freestyle their way to fun. Skills developed: agility, balance, coordination.
Create a scavenger hunt – Hide things all over the garden or throughout the house and have your child race to find each clue. If you want to sneak even more exercise into this activity, include requirements with each clue, like “Do four star jumps before moving on,” or “Make up a funny dance.” This activity is fun because it can be elaborate and long or short and sweet. Click the links to see scavenger hunt ideas…
Ice skating – on hard surfaces in your house, put on some socks and slide around. Kids can practice spinning and seeing who can slide the farthest. Pretend you are professional ice skaters in the middle of a frozen pond in the winter. Be careful of corners, however, and watch for splinters!
Wheelbarrow or crab walk races – Have the children race from one end of the room or garden to another.
Have pillow fight – It’s an age-old activity, and pretty much every little kid’s dream! We recommend using pillows other than the feather-filled versions, unless you enjoy having a house covered in feathers. Be careful!
Traffic light game – Find a red, green and orange object. Or just shout out the colours. Red is for stop, green is for go and orange (or amber) can be for whatever movement you think up. Good for listening skills, control and fitness.
Freeze Tig –If you’ve got a group of four or more kids looking for some fun, look no further than a good old game of freeze tig. Pick one child to be “it”, and have them chase the other kids around. When “it” touches a player, they must freeze (stand still) until another player “unfreezes” them by touching them. When “it” freezes all players, the game begins again with a new child as “it”. Skills developed: agility, running
Paper Airplanes – There are so many ways to make paper airplanes at home. (See the technology section for help). Throw them inside or outside and see how high they can fly, how far they can fly, or if your child can throw them through an object such as a hula hoop. Skills developed: throwing.
Avoid the Shark – Cover your living room floor (the shark-filled ocean) with towel and have your child jump from one to the next without getting nabbed by a shark. Skills developed: jumping.
Sock Toss – Paired socks are an easy-to-grip and throw item for kids. Indoors or out, have kids throw them into targets such as laundry baskets or hula hoops. Skills developed: throwing.
Egg and Spoon – For this ultimate hand-eye coordination and balance game, give kids a spoon and have them balance a hard-boiled or plastic egg from one point to another either indoors or out. How quickly can they go? Can they dance as they move? Skills developed: balance, coordination.
Pillow Walk – Set up a line of couch, throw, or bed pillows on your floor, and have your child walk from one end to the other. It may sound easy but their balance will be challenged! Skills developed: balancing.
Balance Walk – Have your child balance an object on their head and walk from one point to another without dropping it. As they master the walk, move the points further apart or make the course a bit more challenging by adding zig zags or circles, or objects around which they have to move. Skills developed: balancing.
Catch – Children learn to catch at different rates but working with them on the skill can begin with throwing them a balloon or a soft object such as a rolled up pair of socks or a light ball will be less intimidating than a heavy or small ball. Start by standing close to your child and as they master the catch, move further away. Skills developed: throwing and catching.
Long Jump – Just how far can your child jump? Challenge them indoors or outside by marking a point for them to reach, then gradually increasing it. Skills developed: jumping.
Action Songs – Sing together or find recordings of songs that have kids moving their bodies in different ways. Hokey Pokey, Shake My Sillies Out, I’m A Little Teapot, and Zoom, Zoom, Zoom are all examples of fun ways to get kids moving and shaking to sing along songs. Skills developed: agility.
Beach Ball Blanket Toss – Have two or four children hold the corners of a blanket (or towel). Throw a beach ball onto the blanket and listen to the kids giggle as they bounce the ball up and catch it. You could also use a soft toy if you don’t have a ball. Skills developed: throwing, catching.
Hide and Seek – Kids can hide either themselves or objects such as their stuffed animals in this favourite game played by kids around the world. Skills developed: agility.
ALPHABET EXERCISES – A – Act like a cat B – Bend at the knees C – Curl into a ball D – Dance E – Elephant steps F – Flying G – Gallop H – Hug yourself I – Incy winsy spider J – Jump K – Kick L – Leg lifts M – March N – Noisy steps O – Open and shut arms P – Pop up from a crouch Q -Quiet steps on tiptoe R – Running on the spot S -Side steps T – Turns U – Under someone’s legs V –Vault (jump over an object) W – Wiggles X – star jumps Y – Yoga (stretch to the sky) Z – Zig zag steps
Daily Practise – Encourage your children to do some daily practise with putting on clothes, jackets and shoes. This includes buttons, zips and laces. Here is a website for tips on tying laces and a video.
Learn to pedal – This site gives tips on how to teach young children to pedal a bike.
Emotional And Mental Health
Mindfulness is about helping you and your child to become calm, to become present in the moment and will help if tensions or anxieties are running high. Here are some quick, simple, mindful games you can get your children involved in, without much preparation time and hassle:
Touch: Put a bunch of mystery items in a paper bag and take turns feeling one object at a time and guess what it is as you describe the texture and shape.
Sight: Look around the room in silence for one minute and then point out all the things you never noticed before.
Sound: Close your eyes together and count how many different sounds you can hear with your eyes closed, and then share what you heard with each other.
Daily tasks can help:
Encourage your children to help you out with the daily cooking, teaching them small skills and keeping them engaged in the process of turning ingredients into meals. Focusing their attention on tasks such as stirring, mixing and weighing, can be an active, fun way to help them concentrate and keep their minds in the present, allowing stressful thoughts to leave the mind.
To further use the senses, encourage your children to describe the colours of the ingredients, the texture of the food during different parts of the process, and notice the different forms the meal has taken, from start to finish.
Make everyday moments mindful.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to mean sitting down for long periods of time, and if you find that isn’t working for your children, try incorporating being present into your everyday life instead. For example, if you’re going on your daily walk, ask them to listen for things they haven’t noticed before. If you can, spend part of the walk in silence, listening for sounds and animals: this encourages being present.
Squeeze and let go, tensing different muscles in the body for 5 seconds and then slowing releasing.
Have a ‘mindful’ snack by describing the smell, texture and taste of the food.
Child Friendly Meditation
If possible, find a quiet area to sit with your child. Sit facing each other with legs crossed or any other comfortable way. You could lie down if preferred. The focus here is on taking a short time, just a few minutes, to be still and to concentrate very simply on breathing. Asking a child to put their hands on their stomach will help them understand and visualise breathing in and out.
Try Baby Massage – here is a guide.
Keep it simple.
One of the first things to keep in mind here is that you are working with children so be realistic about how long you can expect them to sit or lie still and not fidget, let alone be mindful.
Get a breathing buddy.
Even for adults, sitting down and trying to focus ‘on the breath’ can be pretty difficult, when all your brain wants to think about is the long list of things that still needs doing in the day.
It is no different for your child. To help them focus on their breathing, get them to lie on their back and place a soft toy on their stomach. Then ask them to watch and be aware of the way the toy moves when they are breathing. This will bring presence of mind to their breathing.
Try a Spiderman meditation – SpiderMan meditation encourages children to activate their ‘spidey-senses’ and focus on all they can smell, taste, and hear in the present moment.
Looking at clouds – Keep an eye on the weather for this activity, as ideally you need partial cloud cover and a good breeze. Get the children to lie down outside and look up at the clouds (taking care not to look directly at the sun). Ask them to look out for shapes and notice how the clouds change as they move along.
Guided meditation for young children – The secret treehouse
Bright horizons home ideas for babies for babies
Visit South Lanarkshire Psychological Services Twitter for daily advice to parents and carers.
There are more learning links on the useful links page.