Exercise keeps preschoolers healthy and develops gross motor skills, or those involving the large muscles of the body. Activities such as jumping, hopping, climbing, catching and kicking all involve large muscle movement and develop strength and coordination in young bodies. These exercises need to be kept fun, capturing preschoolers' imaginations to keep them engaged and moving.
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Preschoolers love to move. Jumping exercises are great for strengthening the large muscles in their lower body. Place colored dots on the floor, and have the kids jump from one dot to the next with both feet. Next, have them jump backward and then sideways. For another exercise, lay a towel folded in half lengthwise out on the sidewalk. The preschooler should try to jump over the "brook" without falling in. The towel can be unfolded and later two towels can be used to make it more challenging.
Hopping, Flying and Climbing
Acting like an animal is part of a child's imagination games, and such imitations can be incorporated into exercise. Have the preschoolers hop on both feet around the room like a bunny and then hop on one leg like a hurt bunny. Or you can have them make some lily pads and hop from one lily pad to the next like a frog. For another animal-base exercise, have the preschoolers pick their favorite bird and flap their "wings" as they fly around the backyard.
Take preschoolers to the park for a fun climbing adventure, having them imitate an animal that climbs, like a monkey or squirrel. Most playgrounds have a separate area for preschoolers with appropriately sized equipment. Climbing builds strength in their upper and lower bodies.
Catching and Kicking
Throwing, catching and kicking balls are exercises that preschoolers enjoy. The preschoolers can sit cross-legged, tossing a soft ball up and then catching it. Make sure they watch the ball and give it a big hug when it lands in their hands. Playing catch with a partner works on their throwing and catching skills, developing hand-eye coordination and strength in the upper body. Preschoolers can also grab a friend and kick a ball back and forth to each other.
Games are a great way for preschoolers to enjoy exercise and strengthen their large muscles. Duck, Duck, Goose; tag; hula-hoop games; jump rope drills; and wheelbarrow races are exciting games that allow preschoolers to exercise and have fun. Basketball, football, t-ball and kickball are fun games that strengthen large muscles and improve a preschooler's coordination.