Being physically active is one of the most important jobs for toddlers and pre-school children! It is important for children at this age to be active for at least 3 hours each day. As the child’s heart and lungs are still developing, it is important to do lots of short bouts (blocks) or activity lasting 5-15 minutes each time.
It is every parent and care-giver’s responsibility to understand the importance of activity and play. By 2 years of age children are on the move and are busy exploring the world around them, so supervision is essential at all times. At this age children will be able to follow two or three-step directions; sort objects and play ‘pretend’ games.
Physical activity and play at this age should build movement skill so that the developing child enjoys moving and exploring the world around them. Children should have access to indoor and outdoor areas for play and movement.
Parents should provide their children with opportunities for
• structured play for at least 30 mins per day
• at LEAST 60 mins (and up to several hours) of unstructured play and activity.
Structured play involves any game or activity where there are rules and a ‘way’ to play the game or where the child learns how to take turns. Examples include: piggy in the middle; kicking ball; going on a slide in the playground; riding a tricycle; learning how to cycle; learning how to swim; playground games like hop-scotch or skipping and learning how to sow seeds in the garden).
Unstructured play or free play allows the child to be creative and to build the skills needed to avoid boredom. Examples include: tumbling games; building; stacking; drawing; dancing; hopping; chasing; and playing with toys such as blocks or dolls and teddies which can encourage the child to be imaginative.
Children at this age should NEVER sit for more than 60 minutes (except if they are sleeping).
As the child’s brain is developing at a rapid pace, children need to experience the world around them through ‘doing’ rather than ‘watching’. Parents should limit screen-time (TV, DVDs, phones etc) to no more than 1-2 hours per day.
Ideas for indoor activities:
• Build a den / fort and play games like pirates or mummy’s & daddy’s. Make up a password for entry!
• Pretend to be different animals (move like them and make noises like them)
• Build an obstacle course (clear the area of breakables) with cushions and pillows for practicing hopping; jumping; rolling; crawling and running.
• Choose your favourite song and make up a new dance. To make it funnier, ask your child to make up the moves and you have to do everything they suggest
• Start to teach your child how to cook / make simple things like a fruit salad or a smoothie (e.g. mash up soft fruit like strawberry or banana and add yoghurt or milk)
• Play hide and go seek together
• Play musical statues together
• Put on a show / play together for the rest of the family
• Play musical chairs together
• Make a map of your area with your child so that they can take you on a mystery tour
• Play ball games like football but use a balloon instead
• Learn how to blow bubbles together
• Teach your child how to dress themselves
• Learn how to tumble and balance on one leg together
Ideas for outdoor games
• Let your child bring you on a mystery walking or cycling tour using a homemade map
• Go on a nature walk and collect drawings or photos of the plants and animals you see together
• Make a nature book with leaves; grasses and pictures together
• Do pencil / crayon rubbings of things outside (tree bark; signs etc)
• Go to the playground together
• Play catch together
• Go for a walk but bring the scooter / skates / bike for your child so that they can go further
• Play skipping games together
• Practice throwing a bean bag or kicking a ball into the other person’s goal
• Make an obstacle course or den together
• Get the wellies on and go puddle jumping!