Children must move their muscles for health

Sabin, Davis, Hetrick, Anderegg, Macalady, Walker, Darling, and Katers

Spring time weather can be as unpredictable as preschool children’s behavior. However, children’s need for at least one hour of exercise every day is very predictable. When outdoor play is not possible, try some safe active indoor games.

Gross motor activities use the large muscles of the arms, legs, and trunk to run, jump, dance, crawl, reach, and throw, to name just a few. Grandparents can build an indoor obstacle course of furniture, pillows, boxes, plastic storage containers, chairs, and blankets when they can’t take young children outside. They can play “Follow the Leader” through the course and everyone gets worn out. Children can also follow you around and mirror movements to music. Then they can take turns being the leader

“Simon Says Do This and Do That” can be changed slightly to practice good listening skills. When you say, “Simon says do this,” do an action, your child does the action. However, if you say,” Simon says, do that,” and do an action, your child does not do the action.

“Slow Motion Freeze Tag” can be played in the house, too. When people are tagged as they move slo-mo, they must say a book title, color, vegetable, or anything else you’re working on.

Bowling for numbers can be played inside for motor development. Wrap 10 soda cans around the middle with duct tape so they don’t make so much noise and write a number 1-10 on each. Place them in the proper formation and count the cans still standing. Older children can take any two fallen numbers and subtract them like 7-3= 4

Dance to the music

Young children love to move with music. Many favorites for dancing and singing are free on You Tube or Pandora. Especially popular are college band marching songs, Sesame Street songs, famous Broadway plays like” Annie,” “Sound of Music,” and the Disney movies like “Lion King.”

Movement fun

To teach spatial relations, children can stand in front of a chair, behind, next, on top, and crouch under.

Children can also practice the concept of right and left. Stand or sit and tell your child to lift the right hand, turn the head right, raise the left hand, etc. Then sing and do the “Hokey Pokey” song. A game of “Twister” is good practice with older children.

You can get on the floor and make the alphabet, numbers, or imitate animals like a slithering snake, waddling duck, hopping rabbit, or galloping horse.

Can your children stand on one leg as long as possible or walk on a string tightrope taped on the floor? All of these gross motor games are good for adults, too.

For more see or Through the Seasons live or pod casts.

Editor’s note: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.