Movement is key to happiness. We've heard that from millions of different studies. Movement also has a big impact on the growth, both physically and mentally, for kids.
Baltimore Play and Fitness coach Nanny McFit has been working with families and kids for a long time now. She understands the connection between play and fitness and their influence on a child's cognitive and emotional development. This can be challenging though in our new reality of being trapped indoors for most of the day. She offered up some great games and exercises for parents to do with their kids during this time.
You can find more about Nanny McFit via her Instagram @nanny_mcfit
I had a chance to talk with her on the phone and she goes into much more detail about some of these games as well as their importance in the growth of a child. You can take a listen to that interview. It's posted at the bottom of this article.
Nanny McFit uses fun, play-based fitness to inspire children to visualize, plan and accomplish their goals at home, in the classroom, and in the community.
Large motor skills: hand-eye coordination
Grab some socks and head to the carpet! How to Play: Work off some after-dinner energy before bedtime. Pull your socks off slightly so they are floppy. Family members spread out around the carpet and when they hear the word: “ninja!” they begin crawling around and try to pull each other’s socks off. The last one to have their socks is the sock Ninja! The Ninja gets to pick the bedtime show or story, or whatever works best for your family.
Small motor skills: pencil grip, dexterity
Cognitive development: number concepts (counting with 1:1 correspondence)
How to Play: Grab some playdoh and some spare coins. Have your child roll playdoh into balls, then hide coins inside. They can use their fingers, toothpicks, or pencils to dig inside for the treasure. Once complete, have your child count how many coins they found.
Four Corner Freeze
Large motor skills: coordination & body control
How to Play: Use YouTube to look up your child’s favorite songs. The “DJ” will play the song and everyone will begin dancing. When the music stops everyone must freeze. The DJ will say “go” and count backwards from 5 while players hop to a corner of the room. With eyes closed and covered, the DJ will point to a corner. People in that corner are out!
What Time Is It Mr. Fox?
Large motor skills
Cognitive development: number concepts (counting sequentially)
How to play: Children line up horizontally, 50 yards away from a person that is selected to be “Mr. Fox.” To begin, children chant: “what time is it Mr. Fox?” Mr. Fox replies back with a time (ex. 5 o’clock). The children then step towards Mr. Fox and count to the correct time. As they get closer to Mr. Fox, he gets hungrier! When he calls “midnight!” the children must sprint back to safety as fast as they can.
Flash Light Treasure Hunt
Large/small Motor development
Cognitive development: number concepts (counting objects, money value)
How to Play: Turn off the lights and turn on the flashlights for some before bed fun. Search for letters, numbers, or sight words Around the room and within books.
Paper Plate Skate
Large motor development & coordination
How to Play: Use paper plates as ice skates as you and your family glide through the house. Circle around toys and weave through chairs. Practice twirling on different surfaces through the house.
Sticky Spider Web Challenge
Large Motor Development & agility
How to play: Grab some string and lace it between a circle of chairs. Maneuver above and below the string. Pretend like the string is laser beams that will shock you! Try it with painters tape, but don’t get stuck!
Tape/ Chalk Maze Challenge
Large/ Small motor development
How to Play: Use painters tape to create a winding path throughout the house. Practice walking, jumping, crab walking or lunging through the maze. Create it outdoors by using chalk.
Large/Small Motor Skills
Cognitive development: Perseverance
How to Play: Use chalk to create different sizes of circles on the pavement. Practice aiming and throwing the frisbee within the targets. Land inside a small circle and get 5 points!
Healthy Snack Taste Challenge
Cognitive Development: healthy vs. non healthy foods
How to Play: Pick 5 healthy ingredients to create a healthy dish to “wow” the judges (pick 2-3 family members).
Scissor Soup/ Letter Scavenger Hunt
Small Motor Skills: dexterity
Cognitive Development: letter recognition
How to Play: Practice cutting up old magazines, newspapers or food boxes to find all the letters in your name.
Large motor skills: coordination/ hand-eye coordination
Cognitive development: number recognition
How to Play: Label pieces of paper or sticky notes with numbers and letters and stick them in a hopscotch pattern on the floor. Practice hopping on each and reading the letters and numbers.
Large & Small Motor skills: hand-eye coordination
How to Play: Tie some socks together to create a ball shape. The pitcher will throw the sockball, and the hitter will try to hit the ball with their elbow as hard as they can.
Large & Small Motor Skills: hand-eye coordination
How to Play: Use spatulas or spoons to keep your balloon in the air for as long as you can. Try playing while standing and on your knees.
Sight Word Slam
Large Motor Skills: hand-eye coordination
Cognitive Development: recognizing sight words in the environment
How to Play:
Paper Plate Memory
Small Motor Skills
Cognitive Development: matching objects
How to Play: write letters, numbers, names or sight words on paper plates, then create its match. Flip all plates over. Take turns flipping over 2 plates to find the matches.
Large & Small Motor Skills;
Body control and coordination
Cognitive Development: letter/ number recognition
How to Play: Reuse bubble wrap to create bubble shoes (tape on). Write letters, sight words, or numbers on pieces of paper. Stomp on each paper as you read it aloud.