Reducing screen time for children with movement and play

play based kindergarten

I'm a busy mum of 3 and most afternoons my children have screen time so I don't feel that screens are necessarily 'bad'.

The important thing to remember with screen time is finding a healthy balance with screen time, play and movement.

 

When children are engaged in screen time, their head and eyes are usually still and facing forward, and they're usually slouching on the couch which encourages their core muscles to have a holiday.

 

Below I share with you 10 play based learning activities that will work on the motor skills that children need to keep promoting eye and head movement, and build up their core strength.

 

1 - Throw a soft ball towards a number, letter, or animal flashcard

literacy home learning activity 

Set up time

  •  5 minutes if the flashcards are already made
  • 20 minutes if you need to type letters, numbers or animals into a word document and print them out

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • With you or a sibling calling out these letter, number or animal, the children may stay engaged with this activity for 5 to 15 minutes
  • Add in a balance board to stand on, or changing the ball to a fly swat, and you may get children engaged for a longer period of time

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 to 4 children can participate. Either set up individual walls for all children to play at the same time, or take it in turns to encourage the skill of waiting

What resources are needed:

  • Flashcards or post it notes
  • Soft ball, rolled up pair of socks, or fly swat

The developmental benefits:

  • Visual tracking
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Head movement
  • Balance (if standing on a wobble board or scooter board)
  • Spatial awareness

 

2 - Aim a bean bag towards a chosen number. Make it more challenging by finding the hidden bean bags around the house beforehand

activities to stop siblings fighting

Set up time

  •  3 to 5 minutes depending on how accessible the bean bags and floor markers are

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • With you or a sibling calling out the numbers children may stay engaged with this activity for 5 to 15 minutes

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 to 2 children can participate
  • If you want some peace and quiet and need the child doing this independently, have the child pull out a popsicle stick with the number on it, or roll a dice and aim the bean bag at the number on the dice

What resources are needed:

  • Numbered floor markers or chalk drawn numbers
  • Bean bags or rolled up pair of socks

The developmental benefits:

  • Visual tracking
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Spatial awareness
  • Early numeracy

 

3 - Find the hidden numbers, letters, or numbers printed under the salt, sand, or rice

visual tracking sensory play activity

 

Set up time

  •  10 minutes by the time you source the rice, sand, or salt as well as the A4 piece of paper to place into the tray

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • 10 to 20 minutes
  • You can increase the duration by swapping over the letters, numbers, pre-writing lines or pictures underneath the rice, sand or salt
  • You can also increase the duration by using their fingers, dry paint brushes, leaves found outside, car wheels, etc.

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 child per tray

What resources are needed:

  • Tray
  • Letters, numbers, picture handout
  • Rice, sand or salt
  • Paint brushes, cars, other items to push through the rice, sand or salt

The developmental benefits:

  • Visual tracking
  • Sensory integration

 

4 - Play Twister

 play twister to improve development 

Set up time

  •  2 to 3 minutes

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • 15 to 20 minutes

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 to 4 children

What resources are needed:

  • Twister game
  • Or create your own Twister game by drawing coloured circles on the ground. This make take about 10 minutes to draw your own

The developmental benefits:

  • Visual tracking
  • Core strength
  • Spatial awareness
  • Balance
  • Crossing the midline
  • Vagus nerve stimulation

 

5 - Walk across a path of cushions or stepping stones, then throw a soft ball at a word, letter, number or animal flashcard

visual tracking literacy activity for children 

Set up time

  •  5 to 10 minutes depending on whether the resources are already printed and organised
  • 20 minutes if needing to create letter, word, number flashcards or post it notes

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • 15 to 25 minutes
  • You can make this activity more challenging each time by stepping across the stepping stones for the first 5 words, then crawling underneath a table towards the wall for 5 letters, bouncing a ball like basketball towards 5 animal flashcards, etc.

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 to 4 children

What resources are needed:

  • Stepping stones, a table to crawl through, etc
  • Soft ball, rolled up pair of socks or a balloon

The developmental benefits:

  • Visual tracking
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Spatial awareness
  • Balance
  • Core strength

 

6 - Bounce a ball onto a circle shape then catch it. Create your own obstacle path with floor markers or chalk 

how to improve ball skills 

Set up time

  • 5 to 10 minutes depending on whether you're using floor markers or drawing the track with chalk on the ground

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • 5 to 15 minutes depending on whether you change the track after every 3 to 5 minutes, and also depending on the size of the track. This track is in a small area, or you could make the track move vertically throughout the house or backyard, making the child move a further distance

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 to 4 children

What resources are needed:

  • Floor markers or chalk drawn track
  • Small ball for children aged 5 years and above
  • Large soft ball for children aged 2 to 5 years

The developmental benefits:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Balance
  • Spatial awareness
  • Visual tracking

 

7 - Select objects from around the house and count them out on numbered floor markers or chalk drawn numbers

sibling team work activities

 

Set up time

  • 5 to 10 minutes depending on whether you have the resources readily available
  • Encourage children to hide objects, or place their favourite objects into the basket independently, so you don't need to set it all up by yourself

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • 5 to 25 minutes depending on the number of objects being counted and whether you have hidden the objects around the house as a game of hide and seek

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 to 4 children

What resources are needed:

  • Numbered floor markers or chalk drawn numbers
  • Small objects to count and/or find
  • Basket to place the objects into if needed

The developmental benefits:

  • Early numeracy
  • Spatial awareness
  • Fine motor skill development
  • Visual tracking

 

8 - Complete a jigsaw puzzle while in tummy time position. Make it more challenging by being in tummy time on a dura disc, or scooter board

 core strength activities for children 

Set up time

  • 3 to 5 minutes to locate a puzzle and a dura disc or cushions to lean the child's chest onto
  • If you don't have a dura disc (as pictured) or cushions, don't worry. Children will still gain great benefits from laying on their tummy on the floor during this activity

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • 5 to 25 minutes depending on the number of puzzles and core strength endurance of the child

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 to 4 children - each having their own puzzle and dura disc/cushion

What resources are needed:

  • Dura disc (as pictured) or cushion
  • Jigsaw puzzle

The developmental benefits:

  • Core strength
  • Shoulder stabilisation
  • Fine motor skill development
  • Visual tracking
  • Spatial awareness

 

9 - Create a hopscotch path using floor markers or chalk

how to improve physical activity

 

Set up time

  • 5 to 10 minutes depending on whether you're using floor markers or drawing the hopscotch layout with chalk on the ground

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • 5 to 15 minutes depending on whether you change the hopscotch layout, and also depending on the gross motor skill level of the child. 
  • Add a bean bag or small object to the hopscotch activity - the child skips the square that the bean bag or small object has landed on

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 to 4 children

What resources are needed:

  • Floor markers or chalk drawn hopscotch layout
  • Small object or bean bag (if needed)

The developmental benefits:

  • Visual tracking
  • Spatial awareness
  • Core strength
  • Balance
  • Fundamental movement skills (hopping and jumping)

 

10 - Complete a puzzle while balancing on dura discs or cushions

how to improve core strength

 

Set up time

  • 5 to 10 minutes depending on whether you have these resources readily available

How long does this activity keeps children engaged for:

  • 5 to 15 minutes depending on the complexity of the puzzle and the core strength endurance of the child

How many children can participate: 

  • 1 to 4 children

What resources are needed:

  • Dura discs (as pictured), wobble board or cushions
  • Soft area to balance on (ideally carpet so children don't slip)
  • Age appropriate puzzle or game to complete while balancing

The developmental benefits:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Core strength
  • Vagus nerve stimulation
  • Balance
  • Spatial awareness
  • Endurance

 

For more activity ideas check out our reading program which includes visual tracking, head movement, spatial awareness, and core strength ideas for children aged 4 years and above.

home based learning reading program

 

 


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