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Try out some fun, inexpensive activities

The Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play urges moms and dads to get out and play with their children.  Here are some fun, inexpensive activities with easily accessible materials such as hula hoops, paper plates, socks, scarves, pool noodles and beach balls that everyone in the family will enjoy throughout the summer. 


Hula Hoops

Musical Hoops: Boogie around the room to the music until it stops, then jump into any hula hoop that is on the floor (one per person).  Add some extra fun and movement practice by giving a designated movement skill to do inside the hoop before boogie time starts again.

Driver’s Seat:  Get inside the Hula Hoop with your child. Pretend it is a car. Who will be in front and be the driver and steer as you move around? When your child takes the driver’s seat he is practicing stability. Make it a bit harder by adding some resistance to the child’s pull. What type of car are you driving and where are you going? Use your imagination!

Hoop Toss:  Create a big target such as milk jug or soda bottle (filled with some sand to weigh it down) and toss the hoop to land around the target.  Start close and slowly increase the distance.

Get Rolling! Roll hoops across the yard or gym to get children practicing running and catching.  Vary the distance to vary the challenge.  Increase the fun by rolling more than one hoop at a time and see which one the child decides to catch.


Paper Plates

Scootin’ Around:  Place a paper plate on a carpeted floor. Children place both hands on the plate and push it around, keeping their knees off the floor.  Put a small object on the plate that they have to “deliver” to you across the room, put in a container, or “drive” to a destination—use your imagination. Children have great fun while developing upper body strength and endurance and practicing stability.

Cruising: Pretend the paper plate is a steering wheel and drive around the house or classroom to develop cardiovascular endurance. Use a stop/go sign made from another plate to practice stopping and going on cue.  Add music for more fun. Children can stop, go and change speeds according to the music.



Duck Waddle:  Place a basket or other container about 10-12 feet away.  Children will put a rolled up pair of socks between their knees and try to waddle over to the basket to drop the socks in. Make it harder by increasing the distance. Make it sillier by putting socks under their arms too!

Crab Walks: Place a basket or other container about 10-12 feet away. Children will put a rolled up pair of socks on their tummy as they crab walk over to the basket to drop the socks in. Make it harder by increasing the distance or the number of socks. What else can they balance on their tummy?

Bean Bag Fun: Make beanbags from socks. Partially fill socks with rice or small beans. Sew ends of socks shut to keep beans from spilling and the children from putting the beans in their mouths.  Toss the bean bags into a big container such as a laundry basket or try to balance them on different body parts.



Imagine This: Encourage children to use their imagination to pretend with the scarf. Model yourself. It can be a kite, a cloud in the sky, a beautiful tail on a horse, a butterfly wing, etc. Act it out, move your feet around the play area, and be creative. Continue to move creatively using concepts like right, left, high, low, out, in, up, down, etc.

Toss and Catch:  Show children how to toss the scarf: Lay the scarf on the palm of one hand, and with the thumb and pointer finger of the other hand pinch the scarf in the middle and lift it off the palm. Give it a flick into the air and catch it. Keep palm facing out when catching. Toss and catch with one hand, alternate hands, clap once or twice before a catch. For a challenge, try toss-spin around-catch. Try tossing and catching with a partner or a small group.

Body Part Fun:  Children might try tossing the scarf and watching it land on different body parts (back of hand, head, foot, back, etc.).  They can watch it land on their own body parts, then on the body parts of their friends.


Pool Noodles

Tunnel Fun:  Line up a few chairs facing each other, a few feet apart. Lay pool noodles across the chairs to make a tunnel. Children can crawl underneath the noodles or through the tunnel. Children develop upper body strength and spatial concepts while having fun!

Balance Beam: Tape a flat pool noodle to the floor and children can pretend to be a circus high wire daredevil. Walk across the beam. Walk sideways, walk backwards.  Try to walk on tiptoes! Try to squat down with a straight back and stand back up. Carry an object like a scarf or a streamer to add manipulating objects to practice balancing.

Noodle Cut-Ups: Cut a cylinder shaped pool noodle into 4 or 5 inch segments.  Use these for tossing activities (i.e. Toss and Turn below, toss at a target, etc.) or to carry around in fun ways (i.e. Duck Waddle above).


Beach Balls

Cooperation Carry:  Pair 2 children to walk across the room or play area carrying the beach ball together. First they might use two hands, then one hand each. No hands?! What fun and silly ways will they think of to carry the ball?

Toss and Turn:  This is “Simon Says” with a twist. Toss the beach ball up into the air and do something fun before it hits the ground.  An adult (Simon) gives a direction, such as “touch your nose,” “clap your hands,” “jump up and down,” “turn around”.    Children throw the ball up into the air and do what Simon Says before it hits the ground.  For added fun, let the children take turns being Simon. 

Body Ball Roll: Using a ball work on rolling the ball around your body. Stand up, sit down, kneel or lie down.  Such a simple activity can give children practice with stabilizing and controlling actions and explore relational and space awareness.



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