5 Fun Gym Class Activities to Keep Kids Active During Virtual Learning
Tyler Kearns has been the Program Coordinator for The Clayton School District's Kid Zone Before/After school program in Clayton MO. for eleven years. Tyler is a Genius of Play Ambassador with the National Afterschool Association and sits on the Afterschool Leadership Team with the Missouri Afterschool Network. Along with his out of school time credits, Tyler works to develop youth as a martial arts school owner and instructor. Above all, Tyler is a parent of two children who he enjoys playing together, discovering with, and learning from every day.
Take Action to Make Action!
During these times of virtual learning, it is so easy for both adults and kids to stay in and be distracted by the screens in front of them. As adults, it's up to you to set the example and be the role model. Embody the physical education teacher and get your virtual learner active, motivated, and moving!
Virtual learning may continue to be a part of our children's school schedule for a while. Couple virtual learning with complacency, it becomes easier to just stay inside during the virtual school day. Of course, students may still get a virtual Physical Education (PE) class throughout the week, but that won’t equal the same amount of physical play that could be obtained from outside games and activities.
Not only does physical play help kids stay active and healthy but it gives their bodies, eyes, and brains a break from sitting and viewing a screen. Think about your workday, how many times you get up to stretch, walk to the break area, or move about your workspace - our kids need that now too more than ever! Virtual learning is taking a toll on all of us and we must remember the value and importance of getting our kids, up and moving during their virtual learning. If you’re stuck in an activity slump try the games below, use them for a gym class, a brain break, or any inside day.
If you can’t go outside, bring the outside fun in!
Dice Work Out
All you’ll need is dice, pencil, and paper. Assign an exercise to each number of the dice and write it down on your paper. Set a time limit for how long you will play. Each roll of the dice will identify a specific exercise to do for 1 minute.
Examples for when dice lands on a specific number (or make up your own exercise activities):
- Plank hold
- Jumping Jacks
- Jog in place
Floor Is Lava
Choose a starting spot on one side of your space and a finishing spot on the other. Place obstacles scattered on the floor in all different directions, this could include cushions, flattened boxes, paper plates, pillows, blankets…etc. The player will go from obstacle to obstacle balancing without touching the floor. The goal is to find the best path to the other side. If a player touches the floor, they must start over. If possible, extend the activity to multiple rooms in your home.
To play this game you will need 2 sets of 4 colored circles, i.e. red, blue, yellow, and green. If you do not have colored paper, you can use paper plates and crayons to color them. To set this game up each player will face each other and set their 4 circles down in front of them. The circles must be in the same order for each player. The first player will use one foot and tap on two colors i.e., first red then blue. The second player must remember this pattern and step on the same colors in order. The first player will then add to the pattern by one color…red, blue, green and the second player must follow. Play keeps going back and forth until the second player messes up the pattern, and then they switch turns. The goal is to see how many patterns or rounds the players can go through without messing up.
Indoor Snowball Fight
For this game you will need to crumple up paper into balls or use giant pompoms from a craft store. Once you have the “snowballs” and divided them out, there are two ways to play. For limited space, each player gets a part of the room and must stay in their space. With bigger areas players may move freely around the space. Play begins and players try to throw the snowballs at each other while trying to dodge what’s coming at them. Add an element of PE by having players do a specific number of an exercise each time they get hit (jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, sit-ups) or wait for the end when they will have to do an exercise for the number of times they got hit.
If your child has no one to play with, you could set up targets around the play space that the player must walk through and hit the targets with a limited amount of snowballs, and for each one they miss they could do an exercise. Example: Using 7 snowballs to try to hit 5 targets. 5 pushups for each missed target. At the end, when your child runs out of snowballs and missed two targets, they would do have to do 10 pushups before playing again.
This game is fun for all ages but requires several toys - stuffed animals would be perfect! Select your children’s favorite stuffed animals and place them all around the house. Be sure to count how many you place so you know at the end how many they should have. Once all animals are placed, the player must round them up going from room to room to capture them and bring them back to the zoo. Set a timer and see if the player can beat the clock before the animals escape into the wild. Players can use their hands to roundup the animals or you can get creative and use a jump rope as a lasso!