12 Movement Games To Improve Children’s Learning

The importance of play for the child

A way to discover the world

Through movement and play, the child discovers the world, enters into a relationship with himself and reality. In addition, he acquires new skills, learns to coordinate gestures, improve balance, and avoid unnecessary movements. This is the basis for the development of subsequent skills: those who do not have a good spatial orientation, for example, may find it more challenging to read and write.

The game is closely related to the child’s psychomotor development, influences it, and is, in turn, influenced by it. Over the years, it has developed in parallel with the development of the child, following the stages of maturation.

Playing, therefore, is very important for children, so here are 12 games to stimulate children from two years of age.

1. Where have you been touched?

Purpose of the game: to promote body knowledge and attention

First, blindfold the child and invite him to lie down comfortably on a carpet (or outdoors, on a lawn, on the beach). As soon as he is ready, touch his shoulder, for example, and ask if he felt anything and where on the body. Gradually, it is important to change the touch, making it lighter and lighter, so it requires more concentration from the child.

The activity is even more fun in a group because it can turn into a challenge for those who guess more precisely the exact point where it was touched. After two years, it is also possible to touch the baby with some different objects (such as feather, spoon, scarf) asking to identify them.

2. Go in the right direction

Purpose of the game: to refine spatial orientation, attention, and flexibility

Here is a simple movement game, ideal for entertaining a group of friends (but it is also good for a single child even if less fun) outdoors or at home. First, invite everyone to form a circle, then give aloud a series of directions such as walking, running slowly or jumping.

Suddenly, surprisingly and, with each lap faster, ask the children to change direction or to stop: at the third mistake, the player is eliminated, and whoever remains last wins.

The variations are numerous: you can add music by giving, for example, the rhythm commands or create a small obstacle course instead of the circle.

3. How lions do

Purpose of the game: to develop ground coordination and spatial orientation

Alone or in a group, the idea is to invite the child to walk, jump, climb over small obstacles (for example boxes, cushions) in a quadruped position, like a real lion! In essence, every action must always be carried out on the ground without ever getting up.

To make the game more exciting, especially in the company, you can use some balls that will be the ‘prey’: throw them in the middle of the pack and ask the lions to catch them while remaining on four legs. In this case, the activity can become a challenge to conquer the title of king of the Savannah: the winner is the one who manages to take possession of more balls-prey in a predetermined time.

4. Two hands, two balls

Purpose of the game: to develop an awareness (right and left side of the body)

The game is suitable for a child or a group who can try their hand at the turn-based enterprise. Give the child two balls of different colors, one per hand, and invite him to make a basket in a basket (or in a bowl), in front of him, about 80 cm.
Start by saying, for example: ‘throw the red ball’ or ‘throw the blue ball.’

Afterward, instead of indicating the color, just name the hand with which to launch (‘make a shot with the right!’, ‘Now try with the left!’).

Attention, the goal is not so much to center the basket but to refine the perception of the right and left side of the body in a fun way. So, enhance each shot with the ‘right’ hand.

5. Like horses, an obstacle course

Purpose of the game: to refine imitation, coordination, and rhythm

With a little imagination, this activity can be proposed anywhere. The first step is to organize a simple obstacle course with what is available. At home, for example, cushions, boxes, adhesive tape are enough to draw lines or circles on the ground. Outside, in the park or on the beach, you can use stones, sticks or shells to ‘build’ the track.

In this age group, it is important to show things, not explain them: therefore, pretend to be a horse and involve everyone to follow you along the way! In the meantime, ask to go to the step, to the trot, to gallop, and jump over the obstacles. After a few laps, you can also score points for each ‘right’ action.

6. Sing and learn the parts of the body

Purpose of the game: to learn the lexicon related to the body scheme

Alone or with some friends, an effective and fun activity to learn the names of the parts of the body (and become more and more aware of them) is to sing songs together, such as If you are happy (or invent a themed nursery rhyme) , asking the child to indicate the right ones.

Another exciting alternative to improve this knowledge is dancing: choose suitable music and invite the children to move, at a rhythm, only the parts of the body that you name out loud. Depending on the participants and age, it is possible to start with simple indications (type, arms, feet, hands, neck), thus increasing the level of difficulty of the requests (pelvis, hips, knees).

If you are happy, the famous traditional song for children to have fun and dance.

If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you are happy and you know it, and you will show it to me,
clap your hands if you are happy, and you know it.
If you are happy and you know it, stomp your feet
If you are happy and you know it, stomp your feet
If you are happy and you know it, and you will show it to me,
if you are happy and you know it, stamp your feet, clap your hands.
If you are happy and you know it, snap your fingers
if you are happy and you know it, snap your fingers
if you are happy and you know it, and you will show it to me,
if you are happy and you know it, snap your fingers, clap your feet, clap your hands.
If you are happy and you know it, send a basin
if you are happy and you know it sends a basin
if you are happy and you know it, and you will show it to me,
if you are happy and you know it sends a basin, snaps your fingers, claps your feet, claps your hands.
If you are happy and you know it, do it all together
if you are happy and you know it, do it all together
if you are happy and you know it, and you will show it to me,
if you are happy and you know it, do it all together

7. Special puzzle with faces, arms, legs

Purpose of the game: to increase body awareness and the ability to represent the body with the mind

Ideal for a rainy afternoon or a ‘quiet break,’ this nice activity is suitable for a single child or a group (over two and a half years). Get a dozen rather large images of the human face, cartoon characters, or animals (just search for them online or in magazines). Then cut each figure into two or more pieces (obviously, the more the parts, the greater the difficulty!) And distribute them, at random, on the ground.

At this point, invite everyone to recompose the images, asking to name the parts of the face or body of the figures they put together. It is also possible to turn the game into a race: the one who manages to form multiple figures wins!

8. What do you do! Discover emotions

Purpose: to develop an awareness of the emotions and mimics related to it

Fun and perfect, even for a trip by car, this activity helps every child (from 2 and a half years) to understand their emotions through the body and mimicry.

Prepare a dozen cards with faces depicting different expressions (laughter, tears, amazement …). To make them, just search for drawings or images online and then stick them on a card. A good idea is also to use photos of family members and the child himself, as long as the expressions are clear. Show the child a card and invite him to mimic the expression he sees, asking then to say, according to him, what he expresses. A possible variant is to show a card, mimic it, and ask what emotion it is.

9. Launch of the ring

Purpose of the game: to refine the knowledge and use of the left and right side of the body

Here is a simple, fast, and fun idea to ‘train’ the sense of laterality of the body (i.e., the awareness of the right and left side), alone or in the company. Just get the classic cardboard plate of the cakes and cut it inside to obtain a rigid ring.

Turn a chair upside down and invite the child to throw the ring around one leg of the chair, using first the right hand and then the left side. It is possible to establish a score (challenges are always an excellent incentive for the acquisition of skills!) For each shot made with the right hand.

10. Double or single? Name the parts of the body

Purpose of the game: to learn how to name ‘double’ parts of the body

In the car, outdoors or at home when the weather is terrible, here is a fast and fun game suitable for every moment and effective to help each child improve the knowledge of his body. In a somewhat blatant way, ask the child: ‘Can you tell me a double part of your body?’.

The goal is to name the most ‘simple’ parts, such as arms, legs, fingers, feet, and the less obvious ones, such as knees, eyebrows, nostrils, wrists, ankles … To make the activity more exciting, define a time, for example, 3-4 minutes, and invite the child to say the most significant number of parts that come to mind. With a small group, it can be transformed into a competition for those who nominate more ‘couples’ in the pre-established period.

11. Super footballer!

Purpose of the game: to develop knowledge of the body pattern and encourage coordination and attention

A simple ball is enough to help the child to develop the knowledge of the body pattern (i.e., the inner representation of his body) in a fun way.

Suitable for a single child or a group that can be challenged in turns, the game consists of pushing the ball with some precise parts of the body without making mistakes. Even in a single version, it is possible to assign a point every time the ‘guess’ well the indication and pushes the ball with the part of the body that you have named (for example, heel!). In a somewhat blatant way, invite the child to move the ball with:

the head
shoulder
the knee
the foot
the hand
chin
the ear
a thigh
a heel
an elbow
a wrist

12. The right shoe left shoe

Purpose of the game: to promote awareness of the left and right side of the body and improve orientation in space

Here is a funny and very simple idea to entertain the child and help him develop the sense of laterality of the body (left and right) at any time of the day. Ask to wear only the right shoe and then give different indications – such as walking slowly, running, jumping – around the whole house. Repeat the operation only with the left shoe.

If the child is over two years old, you can make the activity more challenging by ordering to do three hops, for example, with the right foot (the one wearing the shoe), four steps, a very long step

Questions and answers

What is fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills are the motor control over the small movements of the hands, fingers, muscles of the face, mouth, and feet.

How to develop psychomotor skills in the child?

Psychomotricity is a discipline that helps develop personal balance and harmonize the different areas of development of the child. Useful games can be organized to teach the child the perception of his body, balance, and coordination.

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