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Why Toddler Exercise Games are Important
Toddlers are abounding with energy. Including a variety of toddler exercise games in the curriculum is essential so as to fulfill their need for physical movement. Here are some examples of fun exercise games that are sure to contribute to their physical and social development.
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Ball games offer toddlers great opportunities to exercise while having fun. Running after a ball, bending down or stretching to get it, all constitute effective exercise related to ball games.
'Catch and throw' is a simple game toddlers can learn to play. In the same time as keeping them active, it is bound to help them develop gross motor coordination skills as well as social skills. Pair your toddlers and make them stand about just over a meter from each other. Demonstrate catching and throwing with an adult or an able child first. Once they understand what they are expected to do, encourage them to go and get the ball and come back to their spot quickly to throw the ball again to their friend. The key here is to keep the game going by minimizing waiting time for the toddler waiting to catch the ball, and making sure that ball possession is equal for each toddler to avoid boredom.
"Piggy in the Middle" is another fun game for older toddlers to play. Similarly to 'catch and throw', two toddlers throw each other the ball and a third one placed in the middle of them must intercept it. When he or she does, he takes the place of the child who threw the ball last. This is a bit more complex than 'catch and throw' and you may have to demonstrate, explain and supervise this game more.
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Missing Puzzles Obstacle Course
Have the base or picture of a puzzle on a table at one end of the classroom. Have the puzzle pieces on a table at the other end of the classroom. Create an obstacle course in between and through which your toddlers must go through to go and get one puzzle piece each to reconstitute the puzzle. Depending on how many children there are in your class, you could divide the children into 2 groups and have 2 puzzles and 2 tables with a set of puzzle placed on each of them. Space allow you could have 2 obstacle courses, if not all children in both groups can go through the same obstacle course.
It is up to you to decide how to set up the obstacle course depending on your resources. Soft play equipment is ideal but not the only thing you can use. Here's an example of what you could do and use:
1. Get the children to start and hop to a small cushion placed on the floor
2. Get them to bend down and turn the cushion over (or simply touch it) then walk on to the next obstacle
3. Crawling through a tunnel; toddlers must pass through and come out of
4. Have a hoop in which they should jump in and out of
They could then get to the table, take their puzzle piece and run back to the other end of the classroom with it.
You may have to demonstrate what to do at first. Ensure the children keep going to avoid congestion on the obstacle course and in order to get children starting it quickly and avoid waiting time. To make this game more interesting and perhaps for older toddlers, you could set up 2 teams, each team responsible to reconstitute its own puzzle (or puzzles) going through the same or different obstacle courses if you have the space and resources. The first team reconstituting its puzzle wins.
Toddler exercise games involving obstacles can be extremely entertaining when set up with the right amount of challenge.
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The Key of St. George Game
The key of St. George is a traditional French singing game, which can be fun but may work best with older toddlers. The players sit down in a circle. One child goes round the circle while everyone is singing the 'Key of St. George' rhyme translated from French as follow:
"I'm carrying, carrying St. George's key
When I'm tired of carrying it,
I'll drop it at the foot of a rock,
Where my loved one will be,"
Then the child carrying the key puts it behind someone's back while everyone carries on singing:
Children then turn around and the one who has the key must stand up and run after the child who dropped the key. The later must run to the spot where the other child was seated. Now it is that child's turn to go round and drop the key behind someone else's back.
To ensure everyone has a turn, make it a rule that the child with the key should not put it behind the back of someone who's already had a turn. Also divide your class in half, if necessary, having about 5 or 6 children in a circle so that they may not wait too long before having a turn. Increase the fun and get them clapping when the person chosen is running after the person who dropped the key.
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Toddler exercise games can be huge fun. However, they may need repetition before becoming fully successful. It could take a while before your class understands these games optimally. Once they do, your toddlers are sure to enjoy themselves while benefiting from the physical exercise they involve. They'll soon get used to them and become enthusiastic about playing them.
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Reference and Photo Credits
Source: Author's personal knowledge
All photos - Screenshots by author