If you have a toddler, you know that this little person is full of energy and already leads an active life. Toddlers come by this naturally as they are at the age where they are curious and this is why they explore, try new things, and move around so much. Toddlers are so active that pediatricians suggest they receive 30 minutes of structured physical activity each day, like marching to music, dancing, or acting a story. In addition, toddlers should get at least an hour of active free play.
What does that look like in your household? Can you fit ninety minutes of playtime into your toddler’s schedule? You may find this challenging on the best of days. That challenge becomes greater if you and your toddler are stuck indoors for an extended period. It may be hard to come up with ideas when you can’t get to the neighborhood park or school playground. Below are some idea on how to keep your toddler active and achieve those goals.
Hide And Seek
This is easy for everyone to play. However, perhaps the first few times you play hide and seek with your toddler, hide somewhere obvious and have a part of your body clearly visible. That will reduce your toddler’s fear of having you out of their sight. To help them find you, cough or make a noise. Once they get the hang of hide and seek, you can incorporate more advanced hiding places.
This game helps your toddler learn to count—because they must count to 10 before they can look for you—and become familiar with their surroundings. It’s also a good time to review what places are unsafe to hide in, like a dryer or cabinet. Also, restrict the hiding zone to just a couple of rooms on the main floor of your home. As your toddler gets better at the game, you can add rooms to the potential places to hide.
Up And Down Game
This is a fun activity pulled from Chicago area daycares that involves some physical movement. Give your toddler something like a flag to hold. The object of the game is to hold the flag high if you name something that’s tall like a skyscraper or clouds. The flag is held low if you name things like a sidewalk or mud puddle.
As the game progresses, encourage your toddler to jump high with the flag for things that are “up” and crouch down low for things that are “down,” making this a fun and exciting game. Be sure to laugh and don’t forget to be silly. The more fun you have with this game, the more physical activity your toddler receives.
Games Involving a Ball
If you have the room to play with balls indoors, then this is a great way to add physical activity to your toddler’s day. You can start simple with both of you sitting on the floor facing each other with your legs spread and feet touching. Roll a ball back and forth between you.
Switch this up by lightly tossing the ball to each other and then bouncing it off the floor back and forth. You can create variations on the game as you see the progress your toddler makes with this ball game. If you have the room, you can stand facing each other and pass the ball between you in various ways.
Find The Timer
This is a variation on hide and seek. Instead of you or your child hiding, you hide a ticking kitchen timer. The idea here is that your toddler should be able to notice that the ticking sound is getting louder the closer they get to the timer. The purpose of the game is to locate the ticking timer before it goes off and its bell rings.
Set the timer for a short time and hide it where it will be easy to find. As your toddler searches, you can yell “hotter” or “colder” as your toddler gets closer or further from the timer. This is a game your toddler will want to play often!
Who doesn’t like dancing to music? And dancing is a great way to get some physical activity into the day. Toddlers love to move to music, and it doesn’t matter what music you use as long as it has a catchy beat. To make it fun for your toddler, designate a time in the day when you and your toddler will have a dance party.
Pick two or three tunes that make you both move and enjoy. Or use bebop music as a motivator. Play a tune to encourage your toddler to put away toys or some other simple chore that requires some movement and effort. It will make cleanup fun and something your toddler will look forward to.
Rainy days do not mean inactive days, particularly when you have a toddler. Keep them active with a mixture of structured and unstructured activities every day. If you rely on being outdoors to reach these goals, you need a backup plan for those days when the weather is uncooperative.
There are many ways to keep your toddler active when you can’t be outside. All it takes is a little imagination and a few supplies. The ideas above are intended to get you thinking about fun and interesting activities you can use to engage and entertain your toddler on a dreary, rainy day.
Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.