Anne is the Coordinator of the MA Children at Play Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
If you think a small living space or yard means no room for physical activity, think again! We at MA Children at Play believe any movement is good movement. So turn off the TV, computer, and video games and help get your child moving more in small spaces. As always, keep the safety and age of your child in mind when designing fun movement activities.
Turn a walk across a small room into an obstacle course full of up, down and side to side movements. Use safe items like couch cushions and pillows to stack and scatter for jumping over, falling onto, and weaving through.
Forget the old fashion “sit and listen” story time. Keep it active and fun! Have your kids stand up and act out a story as you read it aloud. Use simple household items for props (like a towel for a cape or a plastic bowl for a hat). Stuffed animals make great supporting actors. Be as creative as you like.
Combine moving and learning any chance you get. Have your child sort kitchen containers by size, color, and shape. They can also help fold laundry and arrange clothes into piles by color. This is a great way to finally get all those storage containers organized, and every busy parent can use some help folding the laundry!
Do the cooking dance. Make up simple songs and dances for family meal favorites while you prepare them together. This not only gets kids moving, but involved in the kitchen. An after dinner “stand up and wiggle” session will help digestion, as well. Try to show your child the healthy link between eating better and moving more.
Get to work and build a fort out of cushions and sheets. Once it is complete, take a moment to breathe and admire your work while lounging inside. Kids can get stressed, too. Put on relaxing music, take deep breaths and lead a stretching session. It will be good for you, too!
It doesn’t have to stop at home. When you’re in the car, turn up your favorite songs and move. The kids may be strapped in, but they can still raise their hands up and move their upper bodies. These “car dances” should be full of arm motions. Of course, remember to keep your hands on the wheel!
Show your kids that being active can be fun, and every little bit counts. For more tips on how to keep children of all ages moving, visit www.mass.gov/massinmotion.