Let’s Get Moving: Exercise for Kids

By: Maddie Packard

Childhood obesity has and continues to be a serious problem in Wisconsin and the rest of the country.  A huge way to prevent this is exercise.  When most adults think of exercising, we imagine it as long, agonizing time on the treadmill, lifting heavy weights, or a crazy Zumba class.  Activities like those don’t really match up with the motor skills and attention span of toddlers and preschool aged children.  For them, exercising is all about playing and just being physically active.  They don’t have to run 5 miles or do 100 crunches, they just need to get moving. 

Aside from the typical play activities like playgrounds, hopscotch or riding bikes, there are many creative ways to get kids active without them even realizing they are exercising.

The Animal Walk

Some of the first things babies learn is what sounds animals make.  Once they’re up on their feet and have become an energized toddler, it’s time to learn how the animals move.  Whether they are running like a cheetah, galloping like a horse, or slithering around on their stomachs like a snake, an activity like this not only teaches about different types of animals but encourages new types of movement for a child to experiment with.

Obstacle Course

This can be done inside and outside, making it a friendly activity to all the weather we have in Wisconsin.  It doesn’t have to get complicated, but crawling under chairs, jumping over pillows, and weaving through a line of toys can still be fun.  There is more freedom outside like running around a tree or hula-hooping 5 times before moving on to the next obstacle.  There is no limit on what your course should include so the possibilities are endless.


Dancing knows no age and no skill level.  From waving your limbs around to a full choreographed number, it’s all dancing.  With toddlers, dancing and singing is a fun way to learn about new ways to move your body or even learn a subject matter like body parts.  As kids get older, they can start making up their own moves and come up with their own dances to their favorite songs.

A few songs to get moving:
Cool Bear Hunt (Dr. Jean)

Tooty Ta (Dr. Jean)

Shake My Sillies Out (Raffi)

We Are The Dinosaurs (The Laurie Berkner Band)

When all else fails, no kid can resist breaking it down to Let It Go from Frozen.

Whatever the activity, the important part is for kids to make a habit of being physically active.  It’s good for their bodies, mind, and overall well-being in the future.

Our playgroup kiddos show how they get active HERE

Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. Newsletter

Interested in learning more about our programs and services? Join our email list to stay up to date on the latest child care provider trainings, family services and programs as well as volunteer opportunities.