Introducing children to exercise early gives them the tools to lead healthier, more active lives through adulthood. Exercise for kids should focus on safety and fun. Playing games and simply running around are great warm-ups and frequently are enough of a workout on their own. Kindergartners can exercise in the school gym, out on the playground or any place with room enough for a group of rowdy 5- and 6-year-olds to move around a bit.
Train Game: Caboose to Engine
When kids are outside, they naturally activate. Play a train game where the kids all stand in a single file line. If you have more than 10 kids, you may want to use multiple lines. Start out walking as a train, then, have the “caboose” or the last child in line, run all the way up to the front of the line, becoming the engine. As they run past the others the shout, caboose to the front. Once the child reaches the front and takes the engine position, the last one in line does the same thing, each child taking its turn. This gives all the kids a chance to be the engine and caboose and the rules are simple enough for kindergarten.
The Lets Play Relay
Relay racing is easy, and can be modified countless ways to create new and different exercises for groups of any size and age. Relays are perfect for kindergarten because it provides a learning opportunity in waiting your turn and following directions. Start by splitting the kids into small groups, probably no more than five in each line. Then let your imagination be your guide. Some great options that kids love includes hopping on one leg, somersaults, crab walking, bear crawl and do not forget the big high five to get the next leg of the race moving.
Obstacle courses are fun at any age and physical education teachers, coaches and even the military utilize them. Completing a bunch of challenges builds kids' confidence while they get much needed exercise. Kindergartners are capable of climbing, leaping, running and balancing, all of which create excellent obstacles. Start the kids out with a sprint to a box or bench and have them jump up onto it followed by leaping off the other side. The kids then run to a balance beam and make their way across. Next, have a tunnel which they crawl through followed by another jumping obstacle. Use a tire, log, or anything you have for them to jump. A rope or masking tape will work for the balance beam and holding up a sheet or blanket for the kids to crawl under works just as well as an actual tunnel.
Physical exercise includes more than just the things that get the heart pumping. Stretching is great for children and is a habit that may help prevent future injuries. Use animals when stretching with kindergartners. Kids love to pretend and this allows them to do just that while they exercise. Spreading their arms out like wings and holding them while they fly by leaning side to side is fun and feels good. Fold the wings back in and hold them down at their side while they squat down as if they are sitting in their nest and keep each pose for about 20 to 30 seconds. Any reaching and bending will get there flexible bodies stretched out while they enjoy themselves.
Natalie Woodhurst is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, former mental-health professional and ISSA Nationally Certified Fitness Trainer who began writing in 2010. Her enthusiasm for fitness and entertainment comes through when writing for various websites. Woodhurst is currently continuing her education in performance nutrition and fitness therapy.