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Get Up and Move!

Dear Debi,
I nanny for a family with a small living room. Do you know of any physical activities that we can do inside the house when we can’t make it to the park?
Erica, Long Beach, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Children need to move
  • Plan gross motor activities every day
  • Incorporate music with children’s exercise
Expert Advice
Jocelyn Tucker
Jocelyn Tucker
Board Member, National Association for Family Child Care
Physical activity is important because children need to move. It’s hard for them to remain still for more than a few seconds.

As adults, we want children to be engaged in what we’re interested in, but that’s when children get bored and look for things to do that aren’t constructive. Exercise and movement is a great antidote for this, because it helps them develop gross motor skills.

Gross motor skills are actions that involve the movement of muscles in your body. Your gross motor skills are larger movements involving the arms, legs, or feet muscles – or the entire body.

So even in small spaces, we can encourage children to develop their motor skills. Crawling, for example, and running, jumping, climbing and skipping are gross motor activities. These are things that children not only love to do, but are also necessary for them to get their energy out and to keep them engaged and active.

A lot of providers think they have to go out and buy a $10,000 dollar climbing structure for their children, but these skills can be developed just as easily inside.

Allow and plan for plenty of gross motor activities each day. This will help children learn and grow and it will make it easier for you to manage their behavior.

Also, remember to be creative within your space; incorporate music, CDs and instruments when exercising with children. This way they will learn something while they’re moving.
Child Care provider Comments
Family child care provider for 2 years
In my child care, we play music and do exercises. We also play “Hokey Pokey” or “Farmer in the Dell” and the kids act out as animals and jump around like crazy. But what they really like is to stand up in a group and shake their bodies and wiggle their heads. I say, “It’s time to get the wiggles out,” and the room goes wild!
Family child care provider for 4 years
I like to incorporate as much creative movement as possible when we are stuck inside during bad weather. I like to play CDs with movement-type songs that get the kids moving. I also bring out musical instruments and get them dancing and playing.

But one of my favorite activities is using a beach ball that I suspend from the ceiling on a four-inch string. The kids love to hit it and kick it. Although the space is only six square feet, the ball is very versatile. It is also great because the kids have to engage in a good cooperative activity.
Family child care provider for 5 months
My backyard is off limits now because it’s being remodeled, and I can’t use my front yard because it’s not fenced in. Our outdoor activities require us to go to the park, so indoors we do “Simon Says,” “Red Light, Green Light,” and “The Hokey Pokey.”

We also have a mat with the alphabet and I have the kids stand on different letters and see if they recognize them. This helps them to follow instructions and also to get the wiggles out.

Yoga for Kids Featured Activity:
Yoga for Kids
Indoor Activities Featured Video:
Indoor Activities
Topic: Health & Safety
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