25+ Ways for Kids to Keep Moving, Get Exercise & Have Fun In a Small Space- Both Indoors and Out!

Whether it's inside or out, good weather or bad, our bodies need to move! If it's fun, that's an extra big win!


Whether you have a backyard, balcony, hallway or some floor space- there's something for everyone here!



Over the years, we've accumulated a fair amount of entertaining and fun ways to do this! Taking breaks from our sitting and thinking parts of our days is super important! Moving our bodies keeps us healthy, feeling good about ourselves and prevents us from going stir crazy!


Even those of us who love to read and can wile away the hours with a good book still need to get up and go!


Fresh air and sunshine are so important for both kids and adults! The sun on our faces feels good, the fresh air wakes us up and keeps us in touch with the changing seasons and Mother Earth!



I read this bit of advice somewhere- I can't remember for the life of me where it was, but it always stuck:

"When your mind is tired, use your body. When your body is tired, use your mind."


Keeping that balance is so important for all of us. Kids will be a lot happier (and so will the adults that hang out with them!) if they can keep that balance in place!


Even a quick 10 minute break here and there throughout the day will help everyone use that bottled up energy and bring back the calm!


Before entering my stay-at-home mom profession, I taught in the public schools. Much of that time was as a music teacher in an elementary school.

I learned very early on that kids needed to move more. So, integrating any kind of dance or movement activity = happier kids and a happier me!



Fast forward to my years as a Girl Scout troop leader - I did nine years of that...and the same rule applied! Keep the kids active, engaged and moving!


Some thinking/sitting stuff was fine as long as it was mixed with ice breakers, quick games and anything that got the kids up on their feet!


Whether you have one kid at home or a bunch, we've got you covered! Need to stay inside? These ideas all work great inside and in limited spaces!


If you have a porch or backyard and the weather is cooperative, terrific! Take it outside and feel the sun on your face while having some fun and moving!


So, here are more than 25 ideas to help your kids to keep moving, stay healthy and use up that energy!

1. Hopscotch

An outside walkway or driveway is ideal, but, you can always improvise if hopping outside is not an option!


Using painter's tape on the floor creates a perfect hopscotch 'board.' Or if you're like me, and you have old floor tiles in the kitchen, chalk is fine too! It wipes right off!


2. Sharks & Islands

This ice breaker is a fun way to 'get the energy out!' We did it in Girl Scout troop meetings and loved it!

To Play:

  1. Lay the 'islands' (papers or mats) down on the floor - spread out around the space - use the whole house or apartment if you want!

  2. Game leader says, "Swim!" and the kid(s) 'swim around' pretending to be fish.

  3. Game leader yells, "Shark!" and the 'fish' dash to get on an island and out of harm's way (the paper/mat).

  4. Take away one 'island'

  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until only one island remains --lots of fun if you have several kids scrambling to hold on to each other when only one island available and still works if you have only one player!

3. Hackey Sack

Toss it, kick it, juggle it, find a broom and play hockey - lots of options here! Choose a space with less breakables and have fun!


Want to know more? Here's a great tutorial with some basic kicks- he does a great job explaing! Makes me want to break out my hackey sack (or foot bag as the pros call it!)!



4. Leaf Races

Players hold a leaf in between their knees and 'race' their opponent either in a straight race or winding course while holding leaf without dropping. If the leaf drops, player has to go back to beginning. You can also use a pillow, balloon- whatever you find!

Tip: If only there's only one player, you can map out a course and time him/her. Do it several times and see if he/she can keep improving on their time!


5. Toss & Catch

AKA - Sticky Ball!


Each player puts a paddle on - there is an adjustable strap on the back - see image. Just toss ball back and forth and the velcro- like material makes it easy to catch!

Super easy, super fun! I have never been great at catch and this is such an easy way to play! A fave of ours!


6. Dance!

Have a dancer in the family? Whether it's ballet, tap, hip hop, lyrical or contemporary- dance is a great way to stay fit and keep your creative juices flowing!



Warm-ups, combos and routines can be worked on in even the smallest of spaces! Here are just a few places to get you started! (...and they're free!)

  • Kathryn Morgan has fabulous ballet tutorial videos for multiple levels.

  • For Tap dance, there are a lot of videos out there - just do a quick YouTube search! If you have an advanced tapper in your house, try Operation Tap - Technique Tuesday - there's no shortage of challenging (and fun!) combos to learn!

  • If you love lyrical, try this combo from Ava May Vibes channel! She also has a contemporary combo that looks great!

  • If your space is really on the tighter side, try this contemporary combo from Auti Kamal, who also has other fab tutorials and tips for dancers!



7. Yoga

Stress-relieving, great for small spaces and a terrific workout!


We love Yoga With Adriene! Sometimes she does yoga with her dog hanging out next to her.

We started doing it together when Cenz was 13 and she is our go-to Yoga gal! She's quirky, fun and always delivers a great Yoga workout!!


For yoga and the Elementary-school-aged kid, check out this site! Super cute and imaginative ways to get kids working out and relaxed!


8. Free Home Workouts for Every Fitness Level:

Okay, this guy is great! All ages, all fitness levels and he's kinda funny!

Check out The Body Coach!


9. Ping Pong Anywhere!

I actually ordered this game after researching fun things to do for this post!


At holidays, my family would play after eating a big meal and would follow up with some ping pong!


It was a great way to get up and move around without doing anything too crazy! I rarely won (read: never!) but it was so much fun!


10. Pancake Pile Up Game



A Tasty Twist on a Relay Race! Love making pancakes? This game is a fun take on a traditional relay race and will have players racing to fulfill their 'orders'!

Only one player? No problem! Have them try to beat the clock and time them! Aim to improve their time! Even better, the parent gets to play!


I did the Pancake Pile-Up with a mixed age Girl Scout troop when they were ages: 8 - 14 and had a blast! So, it's a good choice if you have a wide range of ages in your stay-at-home group!


11. Obstacle Course

An obstacle course is a great idea to get the energy out, and have a blast doing it! The possibilities are endless! If you want to work those muscles, make a course the includes some fitness tasks!

Ideas for obstacles:

  • Do 10 jumping jacks

  • Hop over a pillow

  • Walk around with a pillow on your head

  • Bend over and touch your toes

  • Walk up and down the stairs

  • Crawl under a table


12. 'Read the Command' Obstacle Course

So, here's another activity that works great with mixed ages!

  1. Write out as many different moving suggestions as you want on a full sheet of paper- aim for at least ten. 15 - 25 is even better!

  2. Turn them over so you can't see the commands. Wind them around the house/apartment to make a path.

  3. The player(s) starts with the first paper, turns it over, completes the command and moves on to the next one.

  4. The fun part of this is that you can include really nutty commands, like 'run to the kitchen and get a sip of water' or 'crow like a rooster!' Be sure to include physical commands like do '10 jumping jacks' or 'hop in place'!

  5. After reading the command, turn it face side down again so the next person has to turn it over.

It's really funny if you have multiple players doing it at the same time and you include animal sounds in the commands!


13. Hula Hoop

Who doesn't love hula hoops?! Hula Hoops are such an easy and fun way to get moving - and you only need a hoop!


We like the weighted hoops, or, if you're looking for lighter ones, here's a great option that lets you adjust the weight inside.



Whether you do it for two minutes or 20, this is a tried and true favorite!

Want to add a twist? if you can/ are in the mood, put a favorite playlist on- Hula Hooping to festive music is a great way to pass the time!


14. Go Classic!

Here are some classic games that kids never get tired of! Teach them to your kids so they can pass them on one day!



Simon Says

Mother, May I?

Red Light, Green Light

Hide and Go Seek!

Sardines

(Sardines is like 'Hide & Go Seek,' but reverse!) When the seeker finds the hiding spot, he/she must join the hider. The last person to find the spot becomes the hider for the next game!


15. Jump Rope

A sidewalk, deck, or workout space with a high enough ceiling are perfect for jumping rope!

This is a great way to get the heart pumping for all ages!


Add a jump rope rhyme to up the fun to the mix! Here is a site with jump rope rhymes and some more ideas to use jump ropes for games.


16. Bees on a Spoon Race (Or cotton balls, plastic eggs, feather, etc!)

No, I never put an actual bee on a spoon! We had a Disney Fairy-themed birthday party a while back and had painted hickory nuts to look like bumblebees and put them on a spoon! It was a fun twist on a classic egg on the spoon race!

You can pretty much put whatever you want on that spoon to make a simple task challenging! For older kids, feathers are great, because they are really hard to keep on the spoon!


17. Twister

This is super fun and you can DIY it if you don't have your own game of Twister!




Here's one way to DIY a Twister game:

  • Print out pics of a favorite topic - for us, that would probably be books!

  • Make your own spinner using the images from your personalized Twister game. Go to this site to see how to make your own spinner with things lying around the house!

  • Tape down your printed images on the floor into a grid.

  • Proceed with regular Twister game process!


18. Indoor Bowling

Grab some empty cans or plastic water bottles and a ball and you're ready to play!

If you're crafty and want to make this a little more elegant, this site will get your recyclables looking more like a traditional bowling experience!!

Here's a set that comes with a foam ball so nobody breaks a toe - or dents the floor!

19. Ping Pong Ball in a Cup

This game actually originated in France and we first discovered it when we were researching for a Girl Scout International Fair.

It's pretty simple, but lots of fun!

  • You take a plastic cup (one of those big ones works the best).

  • Tape a 20 inch length of yarn or string to the bottom of the cup. Approximate length - adjust as needed!

  • Tape the other end to a ping pong ball.

  • Try to get the ball in the cup!

Do it alone or competitively! Put a timer on and see who gets the most 'baskets' in one minute!


20. Indoor Basketball

Grab a ball and some kind of a basket! You can use a laundry basket or bin, or even a cardboard box and place it wherever works!

Find a place that has a decent back that you don't mind the ball banking off of and play some basketball!!


21. 'Beans' ice breaker

Ice Breakers are quick ways to just squeeze in a few minutes of movement! When you don't have a lot of time but have a kid who's getting wiggly, these are handy!

Here is the hands-down best bean ice breaker/game resource! We started to write them down, but found this and it is worth visiting!

Basically, the adult gives the command and the kid acts out like the type of bean called.

Example:

If the leader commands: "Jumping Bean" Action: Kids jump

If the leader commands: "Chili Beans" Action: Kids shiver


Click here for a huge list of Bean Commands & Actions!

22. Set up a 'Laser Challenge'

We did one of these for a Spy/Detective- themed birthday party and it was a huge hit! We set it up on our porch, but a hallway would be a fantastic option!

You can also set it up in a room and use chairs to tie the string onto if you don't want to stretch it across the entire space.



To Play:

Using string, yarn, raffia- whatever you have in the house and attach (or wind) it back and forth across your hallway/porch/room to create a 'laser' security beam - like in those spy movies!

Players take turns making their way through the maze trying not to touch the 'beam.'

If you have multiple players, you can attach points to each time the player touches the laser beam. Whoever has the least amount points after the round wins!


23. Hand Clapping Games!

Hand clapping might not seem like a big workout, but after trying some of these, I'll think you agree they do a great job of using up some energy...and they're super fun!

  • Cups - the routine from the movie, Pitch Perfect. Click here to see how to do it and here to see the fun music video starring Anna Kendrick!

  • Sevens - Very rhythmic and gets the energy out! Click here to learn it!

  • Miss Mary Mack - Ah, the memories! Even my brothers did this one when I was a kid!

  • Say Say, Oh Playmate - I remember playing this hand clap game on bus rides to school!

  • Tick Tack Toe --Remember that scene in The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan's character and the chauffeur? Well, it was based on the Tick Tack Toe hand game!

  • Handshake from The Parent Trap - click to see the scene!

Note: We had a lot of fun figuring out the handshake from The Parent Trap! There are tutorials out there, but figuring it out with your kid is part of the get-rid-of-energy benefit!


24. Fly Swatter Hockey from Frugal Fun 4 Boys looks like a lot of fun! Grab some fly swatters, boxes and a ball (or a sock!!) and you're ready!


25. Treasure Hunt / Scavenger Hunt! Now, you're probably thinking- "Hey, there's not that much movement with a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt!"


Well, I beg to differ! If you make a long enough list (for the scavenger hunt) and plenty of clues for the treasure hunt, it will keep things moving for quite a while!

Just be strategic! Make the clues go from one room to the furthest point, up and down the stairs, under things, up high, under outside doormats, in weird places like in the third book from left on the highest bookshelf - it will definitely burn up some energy!


We always try to make book connections and here are some great books to inspire your indoor athlete!



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Be sure to Pin this for later so you can check back for more ideas!



Well, there you go! Lots of ideas to help everyone stay moving and keep you from going stir crazy!


Keep Moving!

April & Cenzia





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