Things to do indoors: 5 simple movement and gymnastics games for kids that develop motor skills

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Got a little one at home who is full of energy and keen to pick up new skills? Sure you can head to one of Singapore’s awesome indoor play centres or go in search of an amazing local playground, but being active doesn’t mean you have to leave the house – we’re all about creating fun at home! Gymnast and mum Casie Millhouse shares her favourite activities you can try at home, which also enhance your child’s balance and perceptual-motor development. Don’t forget to be part of the fun and invite the kids to play with you!

1. MAGIC CARPET RIDE
How to play:
Take a towel and bring your kid for a ride pulling them straight, in zig-zag patterns and spins.

Why it works:
This is a core strength game for the children that develops the vestibular system including the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements.

2. TOWERS
How to play:
Build a tower made out of cushions and pillows on the floor. Have your child try to climb it, have them build it or even smash it down. Bring the play to your child so they don’t have to go looking for it in places they should not be. (For example starting their own pillow fight on your bed!)

Why it works:
This game incorporates many facets of perceptual-motor development like balance, body awareness and spacial awareness.

3. WALK WITH ME
How to play:
Have your child step on your feet and walk forwards, backwards and sideways as you hold their hands.

Why it works:
This activity develops large leg muscles, core strength, dynamic balance and laterality (the dominance of one side of the body over the other, such as being right-handed or left-handed).

4. MOVE IT, MOVE IT
How to play:
Get down on all fours and have your child lie down on their tummy on your back. Move all around while they try to balance.

Why it works:
This is a balancing activity that promotes core stability and body awareness.

5. CATERPILLAR
How to play:
Get down on your hands and knees. Ask your child to do the same in front of you. Grab their ankles and begin to move as one unit. You can also switch the roles where you are the leader or add more people to the chain.

Why it works:
This is a gross-motor movement helping your child develop their dynamic balance. It also teaches them to cooperate to achieve a fun goal!

PLAY SAFE!
If you want to get started early with some fun with your little one at home and help them benefit from perceptual-motor development from a very young age, let’s put on our serious faces and make sure our homes are ready for some fun, safe play.

Here are some of the most common hazards and how to prevent injuries to your child:

Hard floor surfaces: While we really can’t take our beautiful hardwood (or marble) floors away, we can cover them with soft materials to make our environment safer like play mats, rugs and cushions.
Hard furniture: Move furniture around to give you and your child an open space to play.
Toys: Move these out of the way. If you are going to be using them in certain activities keep them in a basket nearby. Only keep what you need handy.
Pets: Sometimes our pets may think your playing is an open invitation. Make sure you can find a safe area for your pet away from the play space.
Jewellery/watches: These accessories can scrape, cut or bruise your child when spotting (helping them to complete a skill). Make sure you take off all accessories before starting the activities.
Clothing: Loose clothing should be avoided to prevent tangling. We enjoy dressing up in our gym gear in our house, but you could also opt for something you would wear to a yoga class, for example.
Hair: Tie your hair back as you would when you go for a run or attend a fitness class.
Long fingernails: It’s not fun to get poked by a nail. Keep your fingernails short.

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