Heads, Bellies, Toes- This game helps with identifying body parts, flexibility, and understanding the concepts of up, down, low, and high.
- Stand facing your child.
- Beginning slowly, call out the names of the three body parts that are in the title, asking your child to touch each part as he hears its name.
- Once your child is successful at this, reverse – and mix up – the order of body parts.
- Change the tempo at which you call out the body parts – sometimes slow and sometimes fast.
- Another possibility is to start out slowly and gradually get faster.
- When your child is ready, play Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. Later, you can once again change the order of body parts and the pace at which you call them out.
Let’s Tiptoe- Walking on tiptoe uses the child’s own body weight to develop strength. It also helps with balance!
- Show your child how to tiptoe.
- Ask her to do it with you.
- Tiptoe as long as your toddler stays interested.
- Play a piece of quiet music as you both tiptoe.
- Use imagery – for example, asking your child to pretend she’s sneaking up on someone, or a kitty cat trying to catch a bird.
- Vary pathways (straight, curving, and zigzagging) and directions (forward, backward, and sideward).
“Row, Row, Row Your Boat”- This game works on strength and flexibility, while also teaching about cause and effect.
- Sit facing your child with your legs apart and your child’s legs straight out, between yours.
- Holding your child’s hands, lean forward, and encourage him to lean back as far as he can.
- Pull him gently back up to a sitting position. Repeat.
- Sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” as you gently rock back and forth.
- As your child becomes stronger, you can also lean backward yourself, causing him to lean forward.
Show your child how to gallop. If you do this activity for long periods of time, it helps build up your child’s heart health.
- Show your child galloping (leading with one foot while the other plays catch-up).
- Ask her to do it, too!
- Make a game of Follow the Leader out of it.
- If your child isn’t yet ready to gallop, have her pretend to be a horsie. She’ll be galloping before you know it!
- Give your child a stick horse or a small, child-sized broom. This may make it more fun and help her learn to gallop.
- When your child knows how to gallop, have her try galloping with her other foot first.
More Ideas for Toddlers:
- Follow the Leader: Play this fun game using all of the traveling skills your child has learned (walking, running, tiptoeing, jumping, etc.). Stop once in a while to do a stationary (in place) skill, like stretching, bending, or twisting.
- Tiny Steps/Giant Steps: Move around the room with your toddler, sometimes taking tiny steps and sometimes giant steps. You can also ask her to try it on her own, giving her a signal (like two hand claps) that means it’s time to switch from one kind of step to the other.
- “Pop Goes the Weasel”: Hum or sing this age-old favorite, asking your child to move around the room in any way he wants until the “pop,” when he should jump into the air. Later, you can ask him to jump and change directions when he hears the pop.
- Rabbits and ‘Roos: Invite your toddler to jump as though she were a rabbit. Then ask her to show you how a kangaroo would look jumping. Alternate between the two.