These fun physical activities for kids require only two simple things – an exercise ball and some space to play!
This year I’ve been lucky enough to have lots of time at home with my 16-month-old. And while I try to cherish every single minute with him, I’ll be honest. Sometimes the days can feel kind of long and boring.
He’s a super active little guy, so I’m always looking for ideas for physical activities for kids that will keep us entertained (while also tiring him out in hopes of a long, glorious nap time for both of us) :)
One of our favorite play props? An exercise ball! Here are some of our tried and true favorite ways to play:
*Please use common sense and extreme caution when trying these activities. Always keep your hands on your child when he is on an exercise ball. If you have concerns about your child’s development, motor skills, or overall health, please talk to a therapist or pediatrician before attempting these activities. If your child appears frightened, upset, or overstimulated by the activities – stop immediately and seek the advice of a professional.
Physical Activities for Toddlers Using an Exercise Ball
1 || Ride the horsey (bouncing in a seated position)
I simply stabilize at his hips and give him a little bounce and then he takes over and bounces until he falls over laughing! We usually sing: “Ride the horsey, ride the horsey, all around the town..ride the horsey, ride the horsey…don’t fall down!” It’s a winner every time and provides great experience with vestibular and proprioceptive input.
2 || Row your boat (slightly rolling side to side or forward and backward in a seated position)
3 || Tummy time with gentle rocking side to side/forward and back
The big ball is an awesome prop for tummy time for kids of all ages. My little guy loves the big movements and doesn’t mind being upside down, so sometimes I place a favorite toy on the floor and stabilize him while I roll him all the way forward to touch/grab for his toy.
4 || Rolling across the floor
Sometimes, when he’s not in the mood to actually get on the ball, my toddler and I simply roll the ball back and forth across the floor to each other or we’ll set up a tower of toys or blocks and roll the ball to knock it over!
5 || Lifting and carrying
This is a huge challenge for a tiny toddler, but mine sure loves trying! I help him try to pick the ball up and carry it or lift it up onto a chair or the couch. This one is definitely better for older, more stable kiddos, but is great for strength and balance.
6 || Kicking the ball
Kick it around the room soccer-style or try this! Have your little one lie on his back on the floor. Then, show him how to lift his legs and give the ball a good kick across the play space! Great for core strengthening!
7 || Crashing
If your kiddo is into rough play and crashing like mine is, this is a fun one! Rock, bounce, or sway on the ball while singing a song and then gently help your toddler “crash” into a pile of cushions, pillows, or a bean bag chair.
8 || Massage
9 || Bouncing buddies
For babies and toddlers who might be more reluctant to get on the ball by themselves, try sitting the little one on your lap to bounce or rock forward/backward/side to side.
10 || Drumming
Try tapping or drumming on the ball with hands, feet (lying on back with someone stabilizing the ball), or a toy.
11 || Balancing act
Try balancing toys on top of the ball and having your child push or kick the ball to knock them off.
12 || Experiment with different sized balls
Use a large exercise or therapy ball for the activities described above, or try sitting your kiddo on a smaller playground ball to rock or bounce while listening to songs or while reading books.
We also love using exercise balls as alternative seating for the classroom for kids who need a little bounce or wiggle while they work.
What are your favorite physical activities for kids using an exercise or therapy ball? Share them in the comments below!