Ideas for Active Play

These ideas are not intended to form a curriculum for physical education, so anyone who came here for that must not use these good ideas to do harm.

Sometimes a mom doesn't have ideas for what to do for or with a child who needs much more movement than was expected, or how to direct rowdy play toward something fun and not irritating for one participant. That's the purpose of this collection.

Physicality, commentary and lists of large-muscle activities
One day I had recommended that kids needed to play with strength and power (to a mom who was confused by rough play in young children). She responded:
I was never encouraged to play with strength and power growing up I was encouraged to be meek, quiet and sedentary. So, I feel a little out of my depth hence what may seem like a silly question.
Several people had ideas:

Sandra Dodd:

Lava monster (not touching the ground, on swingsets/playground equipment, or furniture), or any monster/chase/tag/catch games.


Pam Sorooshian:
Shark - my kids called this "shark," not lava monster. That's southern california vs new mexico.

If it is winter where you live and you need this kind of game to be played indoors, put rows of sheets of paper across a room or throughout the house just far enough apart that it is a little hard to get from one to another without touching the ground.


My kids play both! If you have a patterned floor, one color (or special patterned tile) can be the safe spot and the other color can be the lava/shark/monster.

We have played this game at airports. They play it at the grocery store when it isn't busy.

Another idea...
jumping and stomping on bubble wrap!

—Andrea Q

Rippy Dusseldorp wrote:
Obstacle courses. There's lots on youtube like this one:

The children might enjoy watching a few different ones together on youtube and designing their own.


Note from Sandra: Without the adults holding up nets and stuff, that would have been called "Follow the Leader," when I was a kid. One kid would go in and up and over and through things with the other kids following.

Molly wrote:
My son loved to whack at trees with bats, axes (we had several acres), pushing over small trees with his hands, etc.

Whacking at rotting tree stumps.

He and a friend would sometimes tie a very large stuffed animal up and throw it over a branch and whack at it with sticks – looked gruesome but they loved it.

My son loved turning over a cardboard box and stabbing it repeatedly with a butter knife.

Throwing raw or hard boiled eggs at trees (helps to have a big yard with lots of trees!).

Throwing water balloons at trees, house, etc.

Thumbtacking blown up balloons to a piece of wood and throwing darts at them—like in the carnivals.

Any kind of bouncing— trampolines at home or at a facility.

Setting up an obstacle course in your house or yard. Hide plastic easter eggs inside or outside to find (with or without treats inside them).

Set up a scavenger hunt with clues to each next step (can be drawn instead of written).

The Whack the Gopher games they have at some children’s places—there is a home version in the stores I think.

Throwing rocks into a river or lake. Learning to skip rocks – might need to be a lot older – I still can’t do it!

Going to the beach, digging in the sand.

Swimming or playing in water.

Making and whacking piñatas.

My son’s all time favorite was every year on his birthday, his dad would dress up in rain gear and let all the kids chase him with water balloons, squirt guns and sometimes a hose, while he was the screaming, yelling, moving target. They loved it so much!

Good luck! You will have lots of fun!

Molly Davis

The exchange before this was saved:
I'd like to keep this and link it from /physicality if it's okay.

What name should I put on it?

I’m honored! You can use ‘Molly Davis’. Sure brought back wonderful memories of my almost 24 year old! Thanks!

Physicality—when kids need more activity

/games/ leads to a page on other kinds of games,
but has a copy of a 16th century painting called "Childrens' Games" and a link to a closeup.

Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Playing Nest