By Michelle Mady
Toddlers seem to have an unending amount of energy, to the point that I strongly envy their ability to just keep going. I am a teacher of 2 and 3 year olds and I have to confess, their energy is sometimes too much for me to handle. Of course on bad weather days the need to move becomes suffocating, but even on days where the outside playground time is abundant, I still see those wiggles come out of nowhere.
In my years of Early Childhood Education, I have learned the key to a successful classroom is flexibility and being able to go with the flow. If the children are all super active and have some pent up energy, it’s best to ride that wave and move along with them. And if this works and brings some post-movement calm to a classroom with nine 2 year olds, imagine what it can do in your household with your children!
In my years of Early Childhood Education, I have learned the key to a successful classroom is flexibility and being able to go with the flow.
Luckily, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, because I have four go-to no-prep activities that are always a hit. Some of them may be new, and some are old favorites, but there hasn’t been a group of children that have resisted the fun and charm of these hits.
Dance It Out
This might sound like a simple one, but there’s a trick to bring a simple dance party up a few steps and ensure your rambunctious toddler gets out some energy.
Don’t just put on any song. Play songs that have specific movement that goes with it. The Laurie Berkner Band has some phenomenal songs with easy to follow dance moves. The Kiboomers are also fun, with songs like Freeze Dance and The Floor Is Lava. These songs help to really get the wiggles out and also encourage some listening skills at the same time!
Pom Pom Play
There are so many amazing gross motor activities with pom poms, but if you really want to burn some energy, grab the pom poms and a few spoons. You can do any number of things with them and the best part is that the clean up is really easy.
Try and keep the pom poms up in the air by playing catch with them. Throw a bunch up in the air and see how many you can catch. Run around with a pom pom on a spoon and don’t let it fall as you climb on chairs, over pillows and crawl under the table.
The best part about this activity is that it can end in a scavenger hunt. Can you find all the pom poms? How many can you pick up in 10 seconds? Your child will be ready for a chill, calm activity once it’s all cleaned up!
We all know how to play charades, but this is with a twist. Grab a toy and show it to your child. Have them “act” it out. So, if the toy is a helicopter, they can put out their arms and spin around. Have a few toys ready and make sure you can add some movement to them. Vehicles work well, and animal toys are always good for a giggle or two!
Go Old School
When in doubt, go back to the classics. The Hokey Pokey is a dance that a lot of children don’t know anymore, so it will be a fun and silly one to teach them! Simon Says can be a crowd pleaser, and the Wheels on the Bus is always fun for even the most hesitant toddler. My personal favorite is If You’re Happy and You Know It. Add all sorts of emotions and what you should do when you feel them. My current class’s favorite is “If you are ticklish and you know it, give a giggle! We end up giggling for a few extra minutes!
Movement activities can feel daunting to plan, but with these easy go-to ideas, you should be able to get some energy out with ease.
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.