When rain, high humidity or a lack of safe outdoor play space keeps you inside, turn to physically and mentally challenging indoor games and activities. Children should spend at least 60 minutes every day doing something physically challenging, according to the National Association for Sports and Physical Education. Table games and crafts provide needed rest and recovery phases between physical activities. They hone small motor and creative problem-solving skills, providing opportunities for imaginative play.
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Warm-ups and cooldowns prevent injuries by stretching muscles before and after vigorous activity. Play two to three slow songs and have the children stand, raise and lower their arms, spin or perform other movements in time with the music. Encourage the children to stretch, reach, and relax each muscle group. Alternate reaching high with bending or squatting down to touch the floor. Play six more songs, each increasing in tempo, to build momentum and get the children's heart and pulse rates up before you reverse the process for a cooldown phase.
Many schools have children play versions of crab-walk games in physical education classes. Crab-walk games require a few adaptations when played at home, due to space limitations and lower ceiling heights. Move all furniture to one side of the room and remove any lamps or knick-knacks that might get damaged during play.
Place a rectangular laundry basket on its long side at each end of the room to serve as a goal. Divide the children into two groups, one at each end of the room. Choose one child from each team to serve as the goalie.
Have the children get onto their hands and feet, belly-up, with their rear ends off the floor, in a "crab walk" position. Toss a beach ball lightly between the two teams. The first team to roll or kick the ball into the goal on the opposite side of the room three times wins.
Edible Tinker Toys
Assemble marshmallow and pretzel creations in between the more intense physical games. Provide bowls of marshmallows and pretzel sticks at a table. Encourage children to make squares and triangles before attempting pyramids and cubes. Explain how pretzel and marshmallow triangles can connect to form a dome.
Give children 15 minutes to work on their structures before proceeding to another physical activity. American Baby Magazine columnist Isadora Fox advises placing a toy pig or other small animal inside the completed marshmallow structures, and then trying to blow them apart like the Big Bad Wolf.
Blind-Folded Cotton Ball Transfer Race
Zoom, a children's educational television show that debuted in 1972, featured many kid-created activities, including this one. Blindfold the children and give them each two bowls, one filled with cotton balls, the other empty. The children then race to see how many cotton balls they can scoop from one bowl to the other, using only a ladle or wooden spoon.
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