Skip directly to content

a to z movement activities for young kids

on Mon, 07/01/2013 - 10:56

Hi! Great that you are here to read about 26 ways how to move with kids! This year I will publish more on movement based on the Dutch book "Play to Move" that I wrote. If you like to stay updated subscribe HERE for my newsletter.

This Post makes part of a FANTASTIC FREE ABC series by Kids Bloggers. Click Here to see where to read them all!

“Children need to move to learn.”

Physical development is the foundation for learning. Without balance and co-ordination, we could not sit nor stand, have free use of our hands to carry out fine motor tasks, or control the eye movements needed for reading, writing, copying and maths. (source) 

To learn how to control and coordinate their body our kids need:

  • Gross motor activities which means movement of the entire body or larger parts of the body. Examples include creeping, crawling, rolling, running, jumping, and dancing.
  • Fine motor activities involve movement of smaller parts of the body, like hands and feet. Examples include grasping reaching, holding, banging, spinning, clapping, and hand-eye coordination. 
  • Body Part identification activities because good coordinated movement starts with knowing for kids where their bodyparts are and what these different parts are able to do.

I will show in 26 ways - some are very active, some are to wind down, some are to learn more then movement - how these activities can be done at home, in the classroom without the need of special materials.

Why movement stimulates a child's brain development?

Have you ever wondered why you are more tired when you sit down all day compared to when you get outside and run around and feel completely awake and strong again? The reason is that your bodies thrives on movement and excitation. Movement stimulation is important for all of us but its particularly crucial for the developing brain of a child. (sourceIt gives these three ingredients to your child's brain, which are also known as "brain food" and can't help but optimize the brain's performance!

  • Energy (from the GOOD nutrition we put into our bodies)
  • Oxygen
  • Activation / stimulation

* Gross Motor skills in action - learning to walk backwards!

Can children learn in movement, shouldn't  they sit still to be able to learn?

Yes kids learn when they are in action and NO sitting down isn't the only way to learn!

Active learning gives so many more opportunities for comprehension and understanding!! If children for example take on high, low, wide, and narrow body shapes, they'll have a much greater understanding of these quantitative concepts -- and opposites -- than do children who are merely presented with the words and their definitions (source).

26 ways to move, play and body awareness for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and kids

Movement and exercise is an important part of a healthy, developing brain.  And it isn’t difficult to incorporate physical activity into your child’s day – ride a bike, play in the garden, go to the park, and swim are just a few simple ways to give physical activity to your child’s day.

Here follow 26 ways to make your kid an active learner. They are EASY, can be done inside, outside in big or small spaces and with one or more (also special needs) children. 

Let's get MOVING :)

A to Z of Movement

Click on the letter or scroll down to read them all

A =

Animal yoga

B =

Baby Bathing

C =

Concentration Game

D =

getting Dressed

E =

Elephant Run game

F =

Fine Motor

G =

Gross Motor

H =


I =

I am games

J =


K =

Knee Bounce

L =

Little bare feet

M =


N =


O =


P =

Popcorn game

Q =

Q tips

R =

Row your Boat

S =

Under the Sea Game

T =

10 movement games

U =

Up side Down

V =

Visualization game

W =

Wheels on the Bus

X =

PeekaBoo Box


Y =

Yoga in family

Z =

HipHop for TotZ


* Exercises for little fingers help them to be ready for writing, read HERE more.

A =  Animal Yoga.

We do a lot of yoga together on the floor in our livingroom and on the big bed (see under the letter Y), it's easy to do and helps me and my child to balance after a day of stress at work or school. Yoga helps kids focus; it shows them how deep breathing can affect their bodies and how they feel (source). Yoga helps kids build self-esteem by tackling different poses. Yoga is a great way to help kids stay active, gain strength and learn to balance. To see more positions click on my post 'ANIMAL YOGA'.  


B = from Bathing Baby.

A great sensorial activity that makes baby conscious of it's own body and bodyparts. When you massage your baby with warm and soft water you are helping your baby to develop body awareness, coordination and suppleness. To read more you can read my posts on 'Baby Massage'



C = from Concentration Game.

In my playsessions I often do 'listen to the world' - games. So that children learn "to filter" the most important information for themselves. It's an active game that develops their concentration and winds down a group after having been in movement. You can read it here 'INDIANCHIEF'.


D = from getting Dressed. 

Putting on clothes is great daily exercise that helps children to use all of their muscles and to learn about their body parts. You can make a game with clothes by starting with easy pieces to put on as fast as possible (as you can see on the picture below). Or you can sing this movement song together with your children that talks about clothes and which bodyparts to put them on. When your children ar at the age of 6 or older you could introduce lacing shoes, a fine motor skills activity. I sing and show a rhyme about lacing shoes HERE. 


E = from Elephant Running Game.

This is a difficult game and is better done with the bigger kids, it requires coordination of arms and legs at the same time. Divide the group of kids in two: one part are the hunters (transformed in elephants as seen on the drawing), the other part is being hunt. When a child is being catched it turns into an elephant also.


F = from FINE motor skills.

The fine motor coordination involves the use of the small muscles that control the hands, fingers and thumb in coordination with the eyes. A great exercise can be seen on the picture here...painting/ stamping with a cork.

* See here more FINE MOTOR practice pictures

FingerPlays ...

are a musical way in which children use their hands to act out the words and it's one way to promote fine motor coordination. 

These are three fingerplay songs that I use a lot for warm ups or cool downs.

- About  Food: fruits and veggies 

- About Numbers (1 to 10)

- About Saying 'Hello and How do you do' in two languages

* fingerplay of 'My Family'


G = from Growing up, Stretch activities.

Stretching makes little bodies more flexible and keeps muscles long. Here are three examples of songs and activities that you can do:

- Stretch and Bend Song 

- Growing UP counting activity

- Spring Flower Song and activity

* See here for more GROSS MOTOR practice pictures


H = from going on a (bear) HUNT.

I have been doing a lot of hunting games with the children of my movement lessons.This game is a high active adrenaline activity! It makes the kids giggle and very excited. Check it out here: Hunting Game.

Acting out a story with such a beautiful rhyme gets the kids up and move easily!

Here you can see how I've set up 'Going on a Bear Hunt' in a very active way! 


I = from "I am - games" for body awareness.

Knowing how you can use your body gives a child good self confidence. Here you can find three examples how to insert 'I know my body' - games and activities into your daily lives:

- This is Me and My body - songs and activities for preschoolers

* Best tool for learning about ones body: A Miror :)

- Head , shoulders, Knees and Toes song and activity

- A Busy Body Song

* Self potraits


J = from Jumping.

Jumping is an activity that may take some time before children practise it in a right way. The taking off and landing on two feet is difficult and starts to come around the age of 4 years old. We have been practising a lot of jumping on the couch, off the couch, and as you can see in the following three examples:

- Hop Scotch game in the outdoors, jumping onto different signs drawn with chalk.

- A balloon game as shown on the drawing: 

Balloons fwith helium; different lenghts of cords attached; Try to catch them, jumping, stretching your body up!

- More lovely examples of jumping activities can be found in 'The LeapYear' from my friend Cathy at Nurturestore.


K = from Knee bouncing with baby. 

As a baby moves from a lying to a sitting to a creeping and finally to a standing position, his perspective changes, as do his perceptions of the world and its possibilities (source). A knee bounce song gives a good possibility in the safe environment of your lap to feel how it is for baby to sit up and move. Just bouncing (in a soft way) your baby up and down on your knee will no doubt delight her. Famous nurseryrhymes to knee bounce on are: 'Humpty Dumpty', 'This is the way the gentlemen rides'. (for other good nurseryrhymes you can visit 'RainyDayMum's 10 rhymes for tots').

* visit also my fotogallery on BabyPlay, it's beautiful!


L = from Little Bare Feet - Game.

Experiencing with BARE feet is a wonderful sensorial activity for young kids. My friend Gill Conell from 'Moving Smart' wrote such a great article on this topic, please read it HERE.

We have been doig some fun activities with bare feet also in our living room, using different kind of material. Here follow two examples what you can do:

- Little feet feeling different textures

- Bubble Wrap Walk



M = from Massage.

It's a great thing for a kid to be able to massage it's friends - it's sibling (see the video of Chanel massaging her doll in practice for her little brother) or even better mom or dad. This activity will teach them in what way another person can be touched respectfully.

On the drawing you can see a kind of massage that is special, using soft balls and circle with them on eachother's back, belly, head, or legs. 

*See also this video :singing and massaging on 'Pat A Cake' the letters of the alphabet.


N = from Number recognition.

Mathematics and movement make a nice couple together!. Quantitative concepts as big, high, low, tall and short can be worked out during movement activities, as well as the numbers. Children can be challenged to form the shapes of numbers with their bodies or body parts (have a look at the picture below, what numbe are these kids forming?) (source: Rae Pica "PE for young Children").


O = from the Olympic Games.

Last summer we've celebrated the olympic games on the level of our children with crafts, games and lots of movement activities. Please read about all these inspiring activities on my blog 'Dream Big, Start Small'.

But the O is also for OUTDOOR Play. In the outdoors children can really practice their Gross Motor Skills and fill up their lungs with fresh air and their sense with the beauty of nature. I wrote 15 ways of outdoor play, that can be read here...


P = from Making POPCORN with your whole body!.

Click on the picture below to see how to develop those gross motor in the funniest way!


Q = from using Q tips.

While explaning the concept of BIG and small I let the children explore big and small objects with their hands. For the small objects I've used Qtips, the children were asked to use them for coloring in some small circles. Here you can read more about playing with the opposites of Big and small!


R = from 'Row Your Boat'.

Once I've read this beautiful story of the Dalai Lama and the  traditional nursery rhyme of "Row your Boat":

I found it in Caiseal Mór's book "What is Magic?" :

"The thirteenth Dalai Lama, who lived at the turn of the twentieth century, once sent an emissary to the court of King Edward the Seventh in England to find out what he could about the British, their Empire and their spiritual practices. When the emissary returned to Tibet he was summoned before the Dalai Lama to present his account. After he'd paid his obeisance he was questioned extensively about his journey and the meetings he'd had with the rulers of the great British Empire. When it came to the matter of the spiritual practices of the English the emissary reported that they were very knowledgeable regarding the true nature of existence.

The emissary had learned a sacred mantra that all young children in the British Empire were required to chant from the moment they learned to speak. He told the Dalai Lama that in just a few short lines this mantra offered advice for living a good life. It also clearly revealed existence as merely an illusion that should not be taken too seriously. Naturally, the Dalai Lama was very excited. He eagerly asked to hear the sacred mantra. The emissary respectfully replied,

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream."

The song 'Row your Boat' is not only beautiful to sing but it's BIG fun to do it also! Just have a look at the video :)


S = from Under the SEA (parachute) - game.

See this cool and excited game here:'Under the Sea Game'

The text goes like this:

"The Sea is BIG
The Sea is Cold
The Sea is Silent
The Wind starts to Blow (kids go under the parachute)
The waves start to come....
woosh woosh woosh (making sounds of wind and sea)"


T = from 'Ten movement games'.

...and golden rules for getting active with young children. You can read about my ideas for a well selected game and find many practival examples to play here : 10 movement games for young children


U = from Upside Down.

Hanging upside down is a fabulous experience for kids, not only do they see the world from another perspective, but it's also a great way to talk about the earth and it's gravity. If your kids are younger you can help them with the hanging upside down as I show you in this cute video: Parent-Child exercise.


V = from Visualization Relaxation Game for kids.

There is a strong connection between our body and our mind. All of our mental and emotional tensions express themselves in our body. If we are not happy, if we are worried or anxious, we will feel it after a while in our back, shoulders or neck, in our digestion or as a headache. When we are stressed or sad our immune system becomes weaker and we are more susceptible to dis-eases. Being happy and relaxed is the best preventative medicine. This is true for kids just as much as for adults. (source)

This is one of our favorite creative visualizations 'Little Red Boat' (it stimluates the appetite!)

"Close your eyes and immagine to be on a boat. It's color is RED.
The boat is a safe place. The sea is calm and the sun is shining.
You are hungry and think of a nice soft and sweet strawberry (or any other kind of food that you have available).
Immediately it's there for you to eat!
Look the boat arrived to the shore.
I count to 5 and then you're back in the room with me."

If you like to do other visualizations I recommend this SITE that gives a FREE visualization every month.


W= from the 'Wheels on the Bus'.

This classical childrens song can be done in a (see the video) BIG way with preschoolers and toddlers.

With your baby you can do it in a small way by making baby lay on your lap, while you sing and turn it's legs round and round on the melody of the song.


X = from peek a boo in a boX.

A box is never just a box!  

This is a great hiding game for toddlers: let the children close their eyes and take one kid away to be hidden inside the box. Let the children open their eyes, singing together this peek a Boo - song and after asking them who from the group is hiding.... 


Y = Yoga in Family.

My daughter loves it very much when we play together on the bed. Doing movement games in two became a popular game at my home. It gives us some good quality time together and teaches me and her how to be respectful towards eachother. Here you can see three examples of exercises:

- Familytime yoga

- Playful Bonding moments Parent-Child

- Baby Yoga with mommy 


Z = HipHop for TotZ.

Meet my playfriend Jessica, she is the owner and creator of Intellidance and has written so many wonderful articles on her blog! I've found this song 'HipHop for Totz' that I wanted to use to finish my ABC's post with. It made me laugh and be in awe for the creativity used in the song. Look how much joy the divers group of kids is having while they are dancing, using  and learning about their different bodyparts! - The Magic Of Play is on a mission to bring play back in daily lives through bilingual songs, movement & creativity. Angelique teaches 0 to 6 years old in Italy, but comes from the Netherlands. She is a single mom loving passionately her only daughter Chanel every day. And she thinks it’s strange to write about herself in the third person :)


I am on a misison of Play!
Subscribe to my newsletter


Check out these other great activities from fellow bloggers  'LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: ' 

Baking with Kids from Life at the Zoo ; Bath Activities for Kids from Bath Activities for Kids; Discovery Bottles from Teach Preschool; Farming for Children from Glittering Muffins; Fitness for Kids from 3 Dinosaurs; Imaginative Play from Train up a Child; Kids Activities from Growing a Jeweled Rose; Learning Through Play from Love Play & Learn; Learning Toys & Manipulatives from This Reading Mama; Movement Activities for Young Kids from; Play Dough from The Imagination Tree; Playing with Light from Graham and Parker; Preschool Play from Its Our Long Story; Sensory Bins from Royal Baloo; Sensory Play from Creative Play House; Toddler Activities from Toddler Approved; Winter Outdoor Play from Pleasantest Thing.

All the ABC's series Can be found here:


Image credit Girl dancing: fotosmurf / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit ABC letters: lenm / 123RF Stock Photo

Post new comment