Young children don’t need an entire football field or lots of gear to exercise their growing bodies. Armed with their imagination (and yours too), a child can stay active just by hitting the backyard. Here are some ideas for backyard activities:
Pick a classic playground game such as Simon Says, Ring a Roses, London Bridge or ‘It’. You can modify the games to encourage plenty of action and movement.
Play Statues: If the kids are too young to enjoy the concept of one person being “it,” make it a game of statues. The kids run all over the yard until you say “Freeze!” Preschool-age children don’t need to have a winner or loser; the game itself is usually enough.
Create an obstacle course with cones, hoola hoops, ropes or natural items such as trees, stones, bushes and piles of leaves.
If you have a play gym or a slide, challenge the kids to see how many times they can go up and down in 5 minutes.
Turn the backyard into a zoo and make believe they are different animals. Encourage the kids to jump like kangaroos, run like cheetahs, crawl like bears or waddle like penguins.
Teach the kids to skip: Skipping is trickier than you might think, but kids love to practice it.
Have a race: Because losing can upset some young kids, take out the competition element. Use a stopwatch and encourage the kids to run relays (“to the tree and back”). You can time them and cheer for everyone.
When all else fails, you can always fall back on more traditional pastimes, such as football or just ‘catch.’ Simplest of all, put on some music and get them dancing in their own style; just having fun.