13 Fun Physical Activities For Toddlers

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Adequate physical activities for toddlers are necessary for their optimal growth and development. A child who lacks physical activity can lag not only in physical development but also in terms of mental growth and cognitive abilities. Toddlerhood is the time when your little one’s brain acquires lots of information and skills, and good exercise promotes their development. It can be challenging for caregivers and parents to make a toddler exercise since they do not like to do repetitive activities or games. To help you with that, we present you with a list of fun and interesting physical activities for your toddler.

In This Article

Benefits Of Physical Activities For Toddlers:

Toddlers have an abundance of energy and love to explore the world around them. Engaging in physical activities not only helps them burn off some of that energy but also promotes physical development, gross motor skills, and coordination.

If you want to know why it is a good idea for your toddler to be physically active, check out the benefits right here.

Physical activities help toddlers (1):

  • Develop strength
  • Build self-esteem
  • Increase stability
  • Keep and build muscles, heart, and bones stronger
  • Enhance motor skills
  • Improve cognitive skills
  • Manage ADHD (2)

So, get your toddler out of the home and give her a taste of the outdoors!

protip_icon Research finds
Young children play better around attentive adults and are more productive when allowed to choose a preferred game (3).

Physical And Health Development Activities For Toddlers:

Physical activities are not only fun for toddlers but also essential for their physical and mental development. Make sure to provide a safe and secure environment for your little one to engage in these activities. With your guidance and support, your toddler can have fun while improving their throwing, catching, climbing, balancing, sliding, swinging, exploring, tumbling, stretching, and racing skills.

We know that keeping a toddler interested is not an easy thing. Don’t sweat it! Here are some amazing physical development activities for toddlers!

1. Follow The Leader

Image: Shutterstock

If there is one thing most toddlers’ love, it is to imitate adults. So, what better way to get your little one physically active than to play a game of ‘follow the leader’? Ask your toddler to copy your movements. This is a great way to not only help her physically, but also to help develop her motor skills. But always keep your toddler’s physical limitations in mind. Here are some ideas you can try:

  • Clap
  • Crawl
  • Walk
  • Run
  • Flap your arms like a chicken
  • Hop
  • Skip
  • Jump
  • Gallop
  • March
  • Spin
  • Twist
  • Stomp
  • Roll
  • Wiggle
  • Fly like an airplane
  • Shake your hips
  • Crawl like a crab
  • Kick

You can end the game with something quite, like lying down for a nap!

2. Dance

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Rhythm is something all toddlers enjoy. Swaying to music is one of the easiest ways to get your toddler physically active. So, collect some good songs and start moving! It will be a good workout for you too!

3. Explore The Playground

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The first two ideas on this list are perfect for rainy days. But when the sun is shining brightly, head outdoors. Let her run around, climb trees, and explore the playground. You can even carry toys like balls to keep her going.

A fun and active way to explore the ground may be through a friendly race. You may set up a race course around the playground and let children run through it for an energetic activity.

Tanu, a mother of triplets, shares how she and her husband organized a race for their children to incorporate physical activity into their fun time. She says, “We decided to set up a race for our three little ones. The race would take place in our house compound, with the finish line set up near our porch. We drew out a start and finish line on the ground and explained to the toddlers what the race was all about. They were thrilled to participate, and we could see the excitement in their eyes. My husband and I played the role of race marshals, cheering the little ones on and ensuring that they were on the right track. The triplets took off from the starting line, and we could see their little legs moving as fast as they could. It was the cutest sight ever (i).”

4. Hide And Seek

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Here is one of the interesting outdoor physical activities for toddlers. Toddlers love to play hide and seek. It is one game that will keep the fun going while your little one runs around, moving her body.

5. Obstacle Course

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So, it is raining, and you are cooped up inside your home? Don’t fret! Just create an obstacle course for your toddler. You can use pillows, low tables, etc. for this purpose. Not only will your bored toddler stay busy, but she will also work her muscles! A win-win option for both of you.

protip_icon Quick tip
Design a course suitable for your child’s age (involving walking, crawling, and running) after taking the necessary safety measures.

6. Play Ball

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Do you know what toddlers love more than some candy? Yes, a ball! So, grab a ball and start playing. If your little one is just stepping into toddlerhood, you can sit on the floor and roll the ball to and fro. For older toddlers, playing catch, bouncing, basketball, etc. are great ideas.

7. Add Props

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One thing common among most toddlers is that they have a short attention span. So, to keep your young one interested, use props. How about getting a hula hoop? Guaranteed fun as well as a good workout. You can also use pom poms, or other fun accessories to keep the fun quotient high.

8. Let Her Do Chores

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Now that your baby has discovered independence, use it to your benefit! Let them help you out around the house. Teaching your toddler to do their chores will not just keep them physically active but will also imbibe an important life skill – being self-sufficient.

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To begin with, guide your little one to do simple tasks regularly, such as placing toys back on their shelf, wiping small spills, putting dirty clothes in the laundry bag, and piling up the books.

9. Find The Apples

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Okay, let’s take a break from chores and do something fun! How about a treasure hunt? Only this time, let your toddler search for hidden apples. Encourage her to walk, hop, and jump while searching for the apples.

10. Walk On Pillows

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Looking for ways to keep your toddler away from the television? Use your pillows! Just line them up on the floor and ask her to walk on them. Fun, exciting and a great way to develop balance – this is one activity your toddler won’t tire of easily.

11. Freeze dance

Freeze-dance

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Engaging toddlers in physical activities is crucial for their development. Try freeze dance, where you play music, allowing the child to dance freely and then freeze when the music stops. This fosters listening skills and self-regulation as they practice starting and stopping (4).

12. Hopscotch

Hopscotch

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Hopscotch is an excellent outdoor activity. Use sidewalk chalk, tape, or playground stencils to create a course with shapes, numbers, letters, and colors. Demonstrate jumping, leaping, and hopping between spaces, making it both educational and active (5).

13. Bubble activities

Bubble-activities

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Explore bubble activities by blowing bubbles and letting your toddler pop them. Discuss different ways to pop them, such as high in the air or low on the ground (6).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much physical activity do toddlers need?

Toddlers may be active for at least 180 minutes (3 hours) daily, spread throughout the day. This may include light exercise, such as standing up, moving around, rolling over, and playing, and more vigorous action, such as skipping, hopping, running, and jumping. The best way to get moving at this age is through active play, including riding a bike, playing in the water, chasing, and playing ball games (7) (8).

2. Why should educators participate with children in physical activities?

Children can exhibit increased motivation levels when teachers engage in physical activities with the students and demonstrate motor skills. In addition, when teachers act as role models for fitness, it has been seen that students are more active (9).

3. What are some safety tips when engaging in physical activity with my toddlers?

When engaging in physical activity with toddlers, it’s important to prioritize their safety. Choose age-appropriate activities and make them wear protective gear if needed. Also, keep them hydrated and stay way from scorching sun.

4. Can physical activity help with my toddler’s sleep patterns?

Yes, physical activity affects a toddler’s sleep patterns. Toddlers who engage in regular physical activity have better sleep quality and sleep patterns because they burn more energy. Toddlers participating in age-appropriate daily physical activities may feel more worn out and sleep better. Establishing a balanced daily schedule that incorporates physical activity earlier in the day will allow for winding down time before bed.

Your toddler’s brain can absorb knowledge and learn other abilities, so including physical activities in their daily routine can help them develop. These physical activities for toddlers will also aid in the development of strength, enhance cognitive and motor abilities, strengthen muscles, build self-esteem, and promote stability. So, engage your toddlers in exciting and playful physical activities such as follow the leader, treasure hunts, hide and seek, obstacle courses, dancing, and more to encourage them to participate actively and have fun.

Infographic: Activities To Promote Toddler’s Physical Development

Toddlers are rapidly growing, so activities that can assist in facilitating their developmental skills are necessary. Check out the infographic below for the playful activities that will help toddlers develop their various physical skills while making sure they’re having fun.

activities to help the physical development of toddlers (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Key Pointers

  • Physical activities promote children’s physical and mental development.
  • Toddlers benefit from physical activity, building strength, self-esteem, stability, and cognitive skills.
  • Participating in simple activities with parents or daily chores enhances children’s personality.
  • Fun activities like following the leader, hide and seek, treasure hunt, and dancing keep children entertained.


Physical activity is important even for toddlers. This video will show you some fun exercises for toddlers that can strengthen their legs, and improve their balance and stability. Check it out.

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Early Childhood Development: Physical Activity in Early Childhood.
    https://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/early-childhood-development-physical-activity-early-childhood/
  2. Claudia Verret et al.; (2012); A physical activity program improves behavior and cognitive functions in children with ADHD: an exploratory study.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20837978/
  3. Playful and Fun Learning Environments for Infants and Toddlers
    https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/publication/playful-fun-learning-environments-infants-toddlers
  4. Play Activities for 12 to 24 Months.
    https://www.zerotothree.org/resource/play-activities-for-12-to-24-months/
  5. Physical Activity Toolkit for Preschool-Aged Children.
    https://fsnep.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2286/files/inline-files/ECE_PA_Toolkit.pdf
  6. Let’s Get Moving: 14 Indoor and Outdoor Physical Activities for Toddlers
    https://helpmegrowmn.org/HMG/HelpfulRes/Articles/toddler/index.htm
  7. Physical activity guidelines for children (under 5 years)
    https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-guidelines/physical-activity-guidelines-children-under-five-years/
  8. Strategies for Teachers to Promote Physical Activity in Early Childhood Education Settings—A Scoping Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908495/
  9. Teachers as role models for physical activity: Are preschool children more active when their teachers are active?
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1356336X19835240#:~:text=When%20teachers%20demonstrate%20motor%20skillset%20al.%2C%202006).
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