Balance in childhood is an important skill for several reasons. These 20 balancing activities for preschoolers are great for home or school. Toddlers can try some of them too.
Kids rely on balance when they take part in different sports and games. They also need balance to carry out a wide variety of independent daily activities like getting dressed, eating and going to the toilet.
The skill of balance is used when we control and maintain our body positions when sitting or standing still (static) or while moving (dynamic).
Balance skills examples include head control, walking forward in a straight line, adjusting movements, and moving against gravity.
Children with weak balance skills are at risk of developing low self-esteem or having trouble playing and interacting with other kids at home and in the classroom.
Taking part in activities to strengthen balance offers positives for all kids and especially for those who have difficulty reaching physical milestones, tire quickly, or avoid physical activity.
The following balancing games for kids are fun and beneficial for all.
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1. Monster Walking
Place soft objects, such as coloured bean bags and pillows, on the floor.
Children pretend they are friendly monsters, trodding across the uneven surface, requiring the body’s trunk to work harder to keep the children upright.
2. Tightrope Walking
Make a taped line on the floor or tape yarn/string to the floor. Balance beams may be used, as well.
Challenge children to walk on the line or beam in a variety of ways: forward, heel-to-toe, with arms outstretched, hands on hips, and even walking sideways or backwards.
Later, you can fashion the line in a zig-zag or even a figure 8.
3. Obstacle Course Stepping
Indoors or outside, set up an obstacle course with barriers for children to step over as they walk. Start with small objects and then progress to larger things as kids gain confidence.
4. Crab Walking
Ask kids to sit on the floor, with their feet out in front and arms behind.
To “walk,” they lift their hips and move forward by alternating their legs and arms, improving bilateral coordination and strength.
5. Therapy/Exercise Ball Sitting
Show children how to complete balance exercises while sitting on a kids’ therapy ball, offering help with their hips or legs as needed.
They can practise while sitting on the ball to watch TV, eat a snack, or even draw and colour at a table.
Later, challenge them to lift one foot off the floor or to play catch with a small, soft ball while still sitting on the therapy ball.
6. One-Legged Bunny Hopping
Ask kids to hop forward on one foot, once or multiple times in a row.
Then challenge them to hop backwards, back and forth, or even sideways.
7. Hopscotch Jumping
Using tape or chalk, draw a hopscotch grid with typically ten numbered squares.
Children jump along the squares, alternating one, and then two feet. An object may be thrown ahead of time, indicating they must skip over that square.
For an added challenge, ask kids to try it jumping backwards.
8. Flamingo Leg Lifting
Children stand sideways behind a chair that they hold onto for support. Ask them to lift a leg at a 90-degree angle and hold it up for a certain number of counts, such as 5-10.
Later challenge them to let go of the chair and stand for a certain number of counts, as well.
9. Bike Riding
Learning to ride a tricycle and a small bicycle (with or without training wheels) is a traditional balance activity.
Trunk, arms and legs all work together as kids steer, pedal, turn and stop.
10. Freeze Walking or Dancing
One of the balancing games that kids love involves freezing when the music stops (musical statues).
See if they can hold each position like statues for a certain number of counts, increasing the number with each turn.
Children practise balance and coordination while walking, leaning and rolling the ball to knock down the pins.
This can be played at the bowling alley or at home with a sturdy ball and pins made from recycled plastic bottles.
12. Playing Twister
Using the spinner from the Twister game, kids are instructed on which colours to place their hands and feet.
While having fun, they practise eye-hand coordination, improve strength, and put their balance to the test.
13. Balancing on a Trampoline
Challenge the children to stand on a trampoline with one foot touching the surface. See how many counts they can hold their positions. Have them try again with their eyes closed.
Here is a small trampoline that’s suitable for this exercise.
14. Moving Like Animals
Ask kids to gallop like horses or hop like kangaroos. Then let them name other animals and show how they might move.
15. Wheelbarrow Walking
On their stomachs, kids then walk on their hands while adults hold their legs. Older or stronger children may also serve in the role of the adults.
16. Jumping/Skipping Rope
Individually, kids can use a short rope to twirl and jump.
As a group, a long skipping rope can be used, with one child at each end and the other children taking turns jumping the rope that is either twirled or lifted higher and higher (“high water/low water”).
17. Flying Like Superheroes
Using a large, inflated exercise ball, children lie on their stomachs. They try lifting their arms and legs, balancing as they “fly.”
18. Putting on Shoes
Challenge kids to put on their shoes, one at a time while standing. After that is mastered, have them try to tie their shoes while standing!
19. Catching Falling Paper
As partners face each other, one stands and the other sits. The standing child drops a sheet of paper, which the sitting child must catch by the fingertips as it floats past.
Take turns after a certain number of tries or minutes.
20. Toe Gripping
With bare feet, children use their toes to pick up small objects like marbles or plastic toys. After each one is picked up, they must deposit it, using no hands, into a bucket.
See who can pick up the most objects in the allotted time.
As you see, balancing activities for kids can provide fun and need not feel like work or practice.
Additional balance activities that require no props whatsoever include running, skipping, race walking and rolling down a grassy hill!
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