12 fun activities to get your family moving

By: Helaine Becker

Author: Canadian Living


12 fun activities to get your family moving

By: Helaine Becker

Games to get kids moving
These fun and funky games are designed to get kids moving in a variety of ways. Keep in mind that any game that encourages motion, even one in which the motion is limited, is better for maintaining health and fitness than a more sedentary pursuit.

For most of these fun outdoor activities, you'll need a large, dry outdoor space that's free of obstacles. A typical backyard will do just fine. And, if memory serves me, many can also be done in an indoor rec room. Allow kids to modify these games to suit their preferences. This will help them maintain interest in the activity for a longer period of time. Just keep an eye out to make sure the play does not become too rough or involve any dangerous innovations.


What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf?
Suitable for: Ages three and up
You'll need: Just the kids
1. Choose one child to be the wolf and the other children to be the "piggies."
2. The wolf goes to one side of the yard with his back to the piggies. The piggies stay on the other side.
3. The pigs shout out, "What time is it, Mr. Wolf?"
4. The wolf answers with a time of day; for example, "12 o'clock." The piggies, counting each step out loud, take 12 steps toward Mr. Wolf. If he answers "one o'clock," they take one step toward Mr. Wolf, etc.
5. The game continues with the piggies asking the time and the wolf responding. The pigs get nearer and nearer to the wolf.
6. At last, when the pigs shout, "What time is it, Mr. Wolf?" the wolf responds, "Lunchtime!" He turns and chases the pigs back to the start line.
7. The first pig the wolf touches becomes the next Mr. Wolf.

Roll the Easter Egg Race
Suitable for: Ages three and up
You'll need: Something -- a chair or a rock -- to mark off start and finish lines
1. In this Easter egg race, the kids are the eggs, and you're the bunny.
2. Mark off a start line and a finish line. The distance will depend on the size of your yard and the ages of your eggs. For younger kids, make a race course about four metres long, but make it longer or curvier for older contestants.
3. Have kids lie down on the start line and crunch themselves into an egg shape by holding their knees to their chests with their arms and tucking in their heads.
4. On your marks, get set, roll! Kids must roll themselves to the finish line without "cracking" (bumping into) another egg.
5. The bunny -- you or an older child who wants to act as the safety monitor -- stays on foot to help younger children roll in a straight line.

Page 1 of 5 -- Learn how to play the Elbow-Toe Race and Kangaroo Wrestling on page 2

Elbow-Toe Race
Suitable for: Ages six and up
You'll need: Something to mark start and finish lines (Note: If you're leery of grass stains, have kids roll up their sleeves and pant legs or, weather permitting, have them wear short-sleeved shirts and shorts.)
1. Mark off a start line and a finish line. The distance will depend on the size of your yard and the ages of the racers. For younger children, make the race course about four metres long, but make it longer for older contestants.
2. Have kids lie down on their stomachs at the start line.
3. Instruct children to prop themselves up on their toes and elbows.
4. On your marks, get set, go! Kids slither across the course in a slinky race to the finish line. If any part of their bodies other than elbows or toes touches the ground, they're out.
5. Encourage younger children or kids with less physical strength or coordination to participate by modifying the game to allow hands or knees to touch the ground. Remind kids that their skill and strength will increase with practice.

Teddy Bear Picnic Blanket Toss

Suitable for: Ages three and up
(Note: While kids are generally standing in one spot, they're raising and lowering their arms repeatedly. This motion boosts their heart rate and builds upper body strength. It also requires gross motor coordination and builds flexibility in shoulder and back muscles. This activity is much like the parachute activities popular in programs such as Gymboree.)
You'll need: Beach blanket; teddy bear
1. Arrange players around the blanket -- two to four players is best.
2. Put the teddy bear on the blanket.
3. Lift the blanket to waist level.
4. On the count of three, toss the teddy bear into the air by jerking the blanket sharply upward.
5. Catch the bear in the blanket. Whee!
6. Repeat until the teddy bear complains of a bellyache.
7. Make the game trickier by tossing three or more stuffed animals at a time or by challenging the blanket tossers to keep the teddy bear in the air for 20 tosses in a row without it falling off. Give children a simple reward for meeting the challenge.

Hip-Hop Kangaroo Wrestling
Suitable for: Ages four and up
You'll need: Just the kids
1. Have children pair off. Partners should be about the same size. Make sure there's lots of space around each pair to avoid collisions.
2. Opponents face each other and grasp each other's right hands as if they were about to shake hands.
3. Then, have each wrestler grab his own left ankle with his left hand. Each player should now be standing on one foot.
4. On the count of three, using only their right hands, opponents gently try to push and pull each other off balance.
5. The match is over when a player lets go of his ankle or the other player. Giggling fits and "kangarolling" on the ground are all part of the fun, so make sure your play area has a soft surface to prevent bumps or scrapes.

Page 2 of 3 -- Learn how to play the Silly Snake game and Za Za Zoo Zoom on page 3

Silly Snake Cooperative Race Game
Suitable for: Ages four and up
You'll need: A marker; a timer or watch with a second hand (optional)
1. Mark off a start and finish line. The race distance will depend on the number of players in your snake and the age of the racers.
2. Have Player 1 sit on the ground with his or her legs extended.
3. Player 2 sits in front of Player 1 and snuggles back between the legs. Player 1 then wraps his or her legs around Player 2's waist.
4. Player 3 sits in front of Player 2 and gets linked to the snake chain as in steps 2 and 3. Continue adding links to the snake chain until all the players are part of the snake. The longer the snake, the more challenging the game.
5. On the count of three, have the silly snake players inch forward by wiggling their bums on the ground. Make the game harder by not allowing hands to touch the ground.
6. The race is over when the snake reaches the finish line or when the snake rolls over in a giggling heap.
7. You can add more excitement to the game by making it a beat-the-clock activity. Kids in the snake chain have to work together to get to the finish line in shorter and shorter times. Give simple prizes to the snake if each challenge is met. Alternatively, if you have a larger group (six or more), form two snakes and have them compete for the fastest time.

(Find more easy ways to get your kid to exercise here!)

Za Za Zoo Zoom

Suitable for: Ages two and up
You'll need: Nothing, just some eager youngsters
1. Ask each child to think of an animal. Think of one yourself.
2.How does your animal sound? Make lion roars, walrus grunts, hyena guffaws, etc.
3. How does your animal move? Start walking, hopping, loping, slithering and so on like your animal. Encourage your "zoomers" to cover as much ground as possible and to move as quickly as possible for the greatest aerobic benefit.
4. Tired of being a tiger? Change animals whenever you like. You can also change up the game by offering suggestions such as "Pretend you're being chased...or sleepy...or happy...or going up a tree." The crazier and wackier your animal acts, the more fun you'll have and the longer your game will last.

Triangle Sumo Challenge
Suitable for: Ages six and up
You'll need: A small rock or other marker
1. This game is best with three players of approximately the same age, weight and size.
2. Have the children hold hands to form a circle.
3. Place the marker on the ground in the middle of the circle.
4. The object of the game is to get one of the other players to touch the marker without letting go of anyone's hand and without touching the marker yourself. It's sort of like an arm wrestling match, except players are using their whole bodies.
5. To play, kids use their upper body and core strength to push and pull their opponents toward the marker. It's tricky to do without losing your balance or getting pushed to touch the marker yourself. Kids need to use a variety of physical and mental skills to win; for example, balance, leg strength, persistence, and a bit of guile, too!

Page 3 of 5 -- Discover three exciting indoor games to play on page 4

If rotten weather sends you scrambling back indoors, keep the good times hopping inside. Double bonus: Build family fitness and make the house shine when you play these ultra-fun spick-and-span games.

Motocross Mop Race
Suitable for: Ages four and up (Note: Anything that gets kids moving, even walking, will boost aerobic fitness. My kids used to run when they did this and get out of breath and red in the face -- the younger one especially [the 12-year-old is too savvy to get too worked up]. Of course, they don't move much dirt when they do this, but what the heck.)
You'll need: A dry mop; kitchen timer or clock with a second hand
1. Set the first course for your mop race; for example, try a wide path from the kitchen to the front door and back.
2. Make sure all participants know what they need to mop -- under the kitchen cupboards, for example, or behind the stairwell.
3. Send the mop racers through the course one at a time. Cheer them on as they compete for fastest time, biggest dust bunny nabbed or most glamorous technique.

4. Repeat the race in various parts of the house, varying the events to include backward mopping, no-hands mopping or upside-down mopping.
5.By the end of the races, you should have winners in every category -- and a shining, dust-free floor.

Duster Scavenger Hunt
Suitable for: Ages five and up
(Note: My mother used to do this for my sister and me when we were kids. It was the only way we would do a good job of dusting. The key here is that you need to know your child; kids need to be capable of dusting carefully and handling fragile objects for this game. If you don't want your children near Grandma Tillie's antique tea set, don't play the game anywhere near it. But since all kids need to learn how to clean house anyway, have them learn by tidying a more conducive environment first, such as their own playroom or bedrooms. And make sure they're supervised.)
You'll need: One duster per person; an assortment of small "treasures," such as coins, stickers, pencil toppers or plastic spiders
1. Before you begin, hide the treasures around the rooms you will use for your scavenger hunt. Hide some items in sneaky places, such as behind photographs and under lamps. Place others in more obvious locations, such as on the mantelpiece or on the coffee table.
2. Tell your dusters that the treasures are finders-keepers and that the best dusters will find the most treasures. Explain how to dust efficiently and effectively, starting from high objects (put treasures up there) and working your way down to the lowest levels. Show the hunters how to pick up all objects carefully and dust underneath and around them.
3. Set the dusters free. Supervise younger children and less experienced dusters, especially if you have assigned them a room with breakables.
4. Keep them at it until all of the treasures are found or they have finished dusting the designated area. Celebrate a job well done by oohing and aahing over each of the treasures.

Page 4 of 5 -- Discover how you can make laundry and tidying up a fun activity with your little ones on page 5

Laundry Fold-Up
Suitable for: Ages five and up
You'll need: A hamper or basket; a large pile of clean unfolded laundry
1. Place all the laundry in the hamper or basket in the centre of the room. Arrange all players around the basket, each standing about 0.6 metres away.
2. At the call of "Go!" each player steps forward to the basket and squats or lunges to pull a piece of clothing from it.
3. Laundry item in hand, step back to your "place."
4. While standing, neatly fold the item. Place the finished item nearby to form a neat stack.
5. Repeat until all the items in the basket are folded.
6. Award points for the largest stack of folded laundry, the neatest stack of folded laundry or the fastest stacker.
7. Add extra points for large or difficult items to fold.
8. Give out a simple prize for each category of points collected. You can also hide prizes -- one for each folder -- at the bottom of the laundry basket for all to enjoy.

Tidy the Crocodile Pit
Suitable for: Ages five and up
You'll need: A messy family room; a timer or watch with a second hand (optional)
1. The crocodiles are on the loose from the zoo! Scatter a few soft objects, such as sofa cushions, around the room (or let the kids do this) to represent the crocodiles.
2. Have kids remove the "crocodile food" (stray objects, clutter) that has accumulated around the room. By putting the food away, it will encourage the crocodiles to go home.
3. Remember, cleaner-uppers must not step on the crocodiles or they might get eaten!
4. Time how long it takes to get the room tidy. Keep a record and have kids race against the previous score each time the crocodiles show up.

Page 5 of 5

Share X

12 fun activities to get your family moving