February 10, 2021
Okay, here’s the thing: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 😉
When I was little, my mom started me in gymnastics really young, and it was because I had a lot of energy. They called me the “Energizer Bunny”, because even after 2 hours of gymnastics, I was still bouncing around, not wanting to leave.
Well, 2 decades later, insert Luke into our lives, and he’s a bundle of boy energy. He’s a blast. I’m telling you–I can so relate to his silliness and need to exert much of that energy needing to just be burned.
So with my inner “Energizer Bunny” and understanding of children’s need for gross motor activities (using large muscle groups), we’ve found some fun activities to do indoors on rainy days (or super hot if you’re in Texas, or even quarantined days). Some include links to different items we’ve purchased for our home, and others include simply what you can find around the house. Be creative!
I also talk to Luke (he’s newly 4 years old) about “being creative” and “using his imagination”, and I praise him when he thinks of new ideas and point them out to him. It’s the inner SLP (I used to practice as a speech-language pathologist) in me. So in saying that, I’m no Occupational Therapist, but as a former SLP, I can really appreciate and understand the need for sensory integration like much of what I’m going to share. The jumping, climbing, crawling, bouncing–it’s all so good. So, so good! I think as adults we can minimize or misunderstand how helpful these activities are for our littles.
I know I initially did!
Enjoy a few of our favorite energy-exerting ideas, and tag me in that your littles love the most!
- Hot lava floor: this includes much of your imagination, pillows, blankets, couch cushions, you name it. Lay them out and start on one end of the room/house, and jump from pillow to pillow. Say that the floor is lava, and they can’t touch it! The jumping is good and active, and it may involve climbing on to the side of the couch or other items you lay out. The goals here are to get them jumping, leaping and planning where to add more pillows to make the trail longer.
- Creating a fort: We like to gather all of our blankets, pillows, couch cushions, etc., and lay them out. We even add pop-up tents like this one, and a toddler tunnel (we fold this and keep it under the couch in our playroom) to make it more extreme. This involves crawling, picking up pillows and moving them, which is all good for them. The creativity and planning gets kiddos really using their imaginations, and you can then encourage “pretend-play” within their fort. Ask them which space is the kitchen, their bedroom, the living room, etc. You can keep the flow going by finding different toys for them to bring into the fort to use. Heck, you can even play a game with them under the fort, have a tea party or tell them they get to create something new in their fort and surprise you with it. The goals should be to let them feel the independence creating it/accomplishing it (even if it’s not as good as YOU could make it), get their bodies in motion by moving items and crawling around and encourage pretend play.
- Mini-trampoline: this trampoline is gold. Luke oftentimes jumps on it while he watches tv. If I can tell he just has a lot of energy, I ask him if he wants to jump on it to get the wiggles out. He’ll even hang on the bar like a monkey (until he got too heavy). Obviously, the jumping is using large muscle groups which helps let out that steam! Have them jump and count or list the ABCs each time they jump. They can try straddle jumps, tuck jumps or “crazy” jumps on it.
- Sensory swing: Okay, y’all–this swing is OUR FAVORITE. You’ve probably heard me mention it before, but we bought it on a whim, and it’s been one of the best items in our playroom. It’s great for kiddos’ to develop their vestibular sense which informs their body awareness, safety, muscle tone, balance and coordination. This vestibular sense is almost like a 6th sense, and it’s important for children’s development. We honestly just got this swing, because around the age of 3, we could tell Luke had all the energy coming from his mama’s genes, and we needed more opportunity for him to move during the indoor Covid days. This swing has continued to be a dream, and Luke has found so many different ways to play with it: swinging back and forth, spinning in it, completely enclosed and hanging, pulling himself up with his arms, flying like an airplane, etc. He just PLAYS. It’s truly amazing! Definitely well-worth the $50 ish dollars spent! Kids love to play on it when they come over, so we practice taking turns when that happens. 😉
- Hoppity ball: These are so inexpensive and fun for kids to bounce on. We use this a lot for obstacle courses, which is #7.
- Sit N Spin: Aubrey got this for Christmas this year, and she’s on the brink of it being really exciting. Luke is 4, and he goes crazy on it! 🙂
- Obstacle course: Honestly, combine almost everything above and encourage the kids the be creative themselves by adding or changing along the way. Have them start at one side of the room, jump from pillow to pillow, do 5 jumping jacks, crawl through the toddler tunnel, jump on the trampoline, twist in the swing, bounce along the hoppity ball toward a line of other balls that they have to try to throw into a basket across the room, and have them finish with the sit n spin. I mean, the possibilities are endless! And the energy you’re getting out of them is GREAT!
- Indoor soccer: I’m a basket lady, so I have large baskets that we empty the blankets from, and turn them over on their sides. We make a little soccer field using those as the goals, and we play soccer in our living room where it’s pretty safe! Luke loves the excitement and energy of it all, and I have to imagine that the creativity of using what we have around us to create a game is good for him.
- Musical hearts: think “musical chairs” 🙂 I got this idea for Luke’s Valentine’s party at pre-school, and I modified it for his age. Since the kids can’t read and maybe not all can identify letters, I put dots with the number (so I wrote out “2” and then colored 2 dots) so the kids could count how many time they were to jump (or do whatever the teachers said). So basically, cut out several hearts, write numbers on them (or be as creative as you want), play music, and when the music stops, have them turn over the heart they’re standing on and jump that number of times. This is supposed to be good at getting their wiggles out!
Alright mama, cheering you on! We’re on all in this together! Like me, many of these ideas I took from other moms who have paved the road before me, so I’m happy to extend some of our household favorites with you!
If you’re looking for more, I shared about some of my kids favorite toys over this past summer during the quarantine on this blog post. Many of them are great for car rides and can grow with the kids developmentally too. And hey, if one of these hits a home run with your kiddos, tag me on instagram, I want to see! 🙂 @lindsaydavenportphotos