There are many ways you can play with hula hoops with young children that will teach them skills and develop their muscles, coordination and other physical skills.
By using hula hoops, you can teach your kids some new gross motor movements they might not yet be familiar with, such as skipping or swinging a hoop around your waist.
Hula hoops can be used in many movement activities, at home or at school. Here are a few hula hoop games to try with your preschoolers and older kids.
1. Musical Hoops
This game is a variation of the game musical chairs.
Play music and get the kids to dance around. When the music stops, instead of running to sit on a chair, kids must find an empty hoop and sit cross-legged inside it.
On each round, remove one hoop and the person who doesn’t find a hoop is out of the round. For younger kids, it may be better not to remove hoops so every child finds a hoop on each round.
2. Skipping Race
Did you know you can actually skip with a hula hoop?
By turning the hoop over your head and then skipping into it, one leg at a time, you can create the same motion as you do with a skipping rope.
This can make a fun and challenging race, and teach a new motor skill. Do this one on the grass as there might be some falling involved as kids trip over their hoops while getting used to the movement.
3. Hula Hoop Toss
Teach kids to aim and throw by placing two hula hoops on the floor and tossing bean bags into them.
For younger children, place the hoops close by so it is easier to get the beanbags to land inside them. For older children, move the hoops further away.
Teach number recognition at the same time by making number cards with the numbers 1 to 5 on and placing each inside a hoop (number 1 closest to you, number 5 furthest away).
Allocate the number of points on the card each time you get the bean bag inside a hoop and tally up the points after each round.
Here are more fun bean bag activities for kids.
4. Play Netball or Basketball
Young preschoolers would enjoy tossing a netball or basketball into a hula hoop as a traditional netball hoop is much smaller and therefore too difficult for most young kids to use.
Fix a hula hoop to a pole or doorknob (or any other creative position you can think of) with cable ties. You could even suspend a hoop between two chairs to keep it low for younger preschoolers.
5. Find the Number
Teach kids the numbers by laying out 10 hula hoops in random positions in a room or outdoor area. Place a sheet of paper or card with a number from 1 to 10 in each hoop.
Let kids run around and move freely, then blow a whistle or clap your hands and call out a number from 1 to 10. The children must run to the hula hoop and stand inside it, taking care to try and fit everyone in the circle.
This works best if a small group of kids plays at a time (up to 5 kids), and is also suitable for playing with one child.
For younger kids, use the numbers 1 to 5 only and increase them with time, as kids learn to recognize the numbers.
6. Hula Hoop Contest
Why not try a traditional hula hooping contest by swinging hoops around your waist to see how long they will stay up without falling?
This may be a little challenging for young kids but is a great skill to learn and preschoolers will find it fun to try. Let them watch an adult who knows how to hula hoop so they can see the movement.
7. Obstacle Course
Hula hoops are great for adding to obstacle courses.
Kids can hop into them (with legs together or alternating), weave around them, crawl through them, run over them, or toss things into them.
Here are some simple obstacle course ideas for kids.
A traditional game played for many years, hopscotch has a whole host of benefits and is a great game to teach kids. It can be varied to make it simpler for younger preschoolers.
As a variation, instead of drawing a hopscotch court, lay out hula hoops and hop into them instead.
Here’s how to play hopscotch.
9. Race Across the River
Build strength with this fun pretend game.
Lay out some hula hoops and pretend they are rocks on a river. Space them wide enough apart that kids have to jump from one hoop to another.
Challenge your kids to cross the river safely by only jumping on the rocks. If they land outside the hoop, they will fall into the river and be swept away by the current.
Time your kids and see how long they take to cross the river and repeat the rounds to see if kids can beat their times. Or, make it challenging by moving the hoops further and further apart on each round, challenging kids to jump further.
10. Hula Hoop Pass
In this fun game, get the family members, or a small group of children, to stand in a row and hold hands.
The objective is to move a hula hoop from one side of the chain of people to the other side, without unlinking your hands. Move it over across your arms, over your head, under your body, etc., until it gets to the other side.
Pretend to be archaeologists going on a trip to explore caves.
Place chairs in two rows and use them to hold up several hula hoops, spaced close together. You could also use a wall for support on one side, and chairs on the other.
Lay large sheets over the hoops to create darkness and the feeling of being closed off.
Pretend to crawl through the caves, slowly squeezing your body through the tight tunnels of the cave. If you can, play this at home at night. Switch off the lights and give your child a torch to make it fun.
This game will teach kids about their position in space.
12. Free Play
Last but not least, don’t forget to let kids play freely with the hula hoops. Lay them out and invite children to use them in their play in any way they choose.
Kids will use the hoops to represent other things during symbolic play (like rocks they can stand on to cross the river safely), they might make up their own games with rules, or they might toss them into the air and catch them.
Free play is important for learning.
I hope you’ll enjoy trying these hula activities and games with your preschoolers and older kids. Here are more fun games to play with kids.
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