Four things I did to get toddlers engaged in fun, physical activities at home

Four things I did to get toddlers engaged in fun, physical activities at home

Squirmy, energetic children and less than favourable weather means that as a home daycare provider I have to step up to the plate and find some activities to keep everyone active and happy. Lucky for me, (and you if you’re also taking care of kids during the day) Active for Life has great activities for toddlers ages 1 to 3 years. I’ve been able to find a lot of fun, age-appropriate activities for us to do that everyone enjoys.

I also love their lesson plan builder, even though it’s designed for 3-year-olds and up, and because I felt confident that I could modify the activities appropriately, I decided to try one of the lesson plan builder activities. It’s so great to have so many activity ideas at my fingertips.

My philosophy is to create the environment based on children’s interests, so I scrolled through the lessons and decided that this week, we would build on the little ones’ love for jumping and hopping and try the “Island hopping” [PDF] activity.

Here’s how I facilitated the activity and had smiling, engaged children:

1. Cleared space

If you have a basement, an empty room, or anywhere that isn’t the usual play space, I would suggest using this area. Knowing how distracted the little ones can get by their favourite toys, I cleared space in our living room and draped some blankets over the toy shelves so that everyone could focus on the awesome activity.

2. Changed up wording

Knowing that a 2- and 3-year-old’s language comprehension can be drastically different, I stayed away from using the phrase “Simon Says” and used pictures to help with the commands. I found pictures of animals for when the children were instructed to move like animals and printed a picture of a stop sign for when part of the activity was done and we were moving on.

3. Kept it fast and fun

Toddlers are not the most patient souls, so keeping things quick and fun was key with this activity. With a young toddler in the mix (who I let do his own thing), I needed to keep everyone focused on the activity without seeming like a drill sergeant. I jumped around with then, acted silly with them, and modeled how much fun the activity was.

4. Stored some mental notes

I made sure to pay as much attention as I could to everyone’s movements to help in my decision for the next week’s activity. I don’t want the little ones to get bored of the same activity but I also see the importance of helping them continue working on important physical skills.

Next time

Next time I do this activity, I would like to focus more on talking to them about the parts of their bodies that help them with building, jumping, and hopping skills. Helping them become aware of the body parts they are using can help them better understand how their body works as a team to develop some important physical skills.

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