Sometimes it can be difficult to get kids to get up and move their bodies, which is so critical for them to grow up healthy and strong. It can be frustrating when they won’t stretch, don’t want to go on a walk, and just sit at the playground rather than get goofy on the equipment. One way that we here at Stretch-n-Grow love to encourage kids to get moving, and to move in a specific way to move key muscle groups, is to engage their imaginations! Our exercise classes aren’t just about running around for 30 minutes, it’s about targeted engagement of the mind and body during the school day. The good news is you can take some of these tools and techniques to engage them at home and with their friends!

So what does it mean to encourage movement through play? And how can it be done with intentionality?

Here’s 3 ideas:

-Be a dinosaur! Sometimes we need to chomp, stomp, roar and get pre-historic. Pretending to be a dinosaur can help kids engage with their arms and legs, by having to take big steps, reaching limbs to act like long necks, or giant jaws. They can imagine themselves ten times bigger, as well as moving their shoulders, stretching some muscles, and increasing mobility in parts of the body that don’t always get stretched.

-Obstacle course! Setting up hoops, toys, and furniture as an obstacle course is a good way to get kids moving. In order to encourage them to use their imagination, a good Stetch-n-Grow trick is to have rules for each section of the course. Hop like a bunny! Slither like a snake! Pretend to be an elephant here! Have them pretend to be different things. Or maybe they have to imagine things to make the obstacles harder? Floor is lava anyone? Climb a mountain instead of the couch?

-Act out a storybook! If your kiddos have a favorite story, have them act it out in a big way. Challenge them to incorporate certain athletic movements in the play, or give them use of a big room with lots of props so they have to lift, run, hop, or crawl.

A big part of healthy growth for kids is helping them grow their minds and bodies, and combining imagination and movement in a playful manner. That’s why we like to be FUN-tastic. What are the games and forms of play that help your kids engage their imagination and healthy movement?

By: Bethany Verrett