Imagination is one of the best tools for encouraging movement and keeping it fun. When movement is a fundamental part of a game or activity an hour of exercising can pass without any sense of work. Encourage the entire family to come up with other imaginative movement games and activities. Here are some examples to get you started!
Monday: An obstacle course uses all muscle groups and is a tried and true way to improve fitness. You can turn your back yard or any room in your house into a complete fitness course with a little imagination. Lay a couple of towels down as rivers/streams to jump across. Belly crawl under a low table or a string stretched across a doorway. Cut out the center of paper/plastic plates or use aluminum foil to make "tires" to step through. Tape squares on the floor to represent rocks used to hop on to cross a swamp. Speed crawl, crab walk and somersault across open ground. Time each effort and chart the improvements!
Tuesday: Do your kids have a favorite movie or show? Have them act it out, with simple costumes -- capes for wizards or pirate kerchiefs tied around their heads -- and decide on props in or around the house. A couch might be the pirate ship or wizard's room; wooden spoons might be a wand or a cutlass. Make sure everyone understands the ground rules of safety and have them act out their favorite scenes. Tape the final results and watch the show! Another option for the younger kids -- read books aloud and every time you read a verb, have them act it out. Look for stories with lots of varied action verbs. It brings a whole new dimension to reading!
Wednesday: Imagination can be where movement meets food. Have your kids show you how to jump like they're popcorn, move like they're walking through peanut butter, swim like they're in a pool full of pudding, or twirl like a mixer. Can they jiggle like jello? Would cotton candy move the same as mashed potatoes? Have them demonstrate how they would walk if they were bacon and eggs in a frying pan or Rice Crispies in milk. How would spaghetti move? Ask them to act out their favorite food and make a parade around the house!
Thursday: How about a trip to the zoo? Exercise the imagination to go beyond moving like an elephant or lion and include moving on their belly like an inchworm, balancing on one leg like a flamingo, crawling like a turtle, slithering like a snake, hopping like a frog and hanging like a monkey. Expand the activity to include making costumes. How would you make a turtle's shell? A lion's mane or an elephant's trunk and ears? Which is the most fun? Which is the most difficult? Be sure to tape the results!
Friday: Now that everyone's imagination is all revved up, try tools. Have them pretend the top of their head is a paintbrush and try painting a wall. Try walking like both their feet are hammers. Can they move back and forth like a saw? Have them show you how a crane would move, or a cement mixer! Can they make their arms move like pliers and pick things up? Have two children work together to be a wheel barrow: one child walks and holds up the other's legs as the handles of the wheelbarrow and the child being the barrow walks his arms as the wheel. Measure how far each child can go -- does it improve with practice?