20 ways to get kids moving when they're stuck inside
Being stuck at home is no reason to stop exercising.
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With schools across the country closing and lockdowns looming imminent, many of us are almost completely home-bound and functioning as both teachers and working parents. If you aren't already a stay-at-home parent living on a large swath of land, figuring out a way to get your kid moving over the course of the day can be challenging.
Kids have to move. Study after study proves that movement improves memory and cognition, and results in fewer misbehaviors.
Leah Dwin of Move2Improve in Carlsbad, California, is a certified Pilates instructor, Cortical Field Re-education practitioner, cranial sacral therapist, and a mother of two. She says that it's important to find ways to get kids moving each day, even in small ways. "Movement is so important for a child's health and well-being and really helps them figure out how they find themselves in the world. So much of a child's learning is through movement and interaction. When we have social distancing, they are losing out on a lot of the important brain and body connection," she says.
To keep that brain and body connection, and to help your kids blow off steam, we've come up with a list of some of our favorite websites and videos that will get kids moving. Some are paid, most are free—and don't worry, parents, we haven't forgotten about you. There are a few all-ages offerings in here so you can keep moving as a family.
While we are sure you'll find something you like in this list, also keep in mind that local small businesses may be hosting live webinars of dance, exercise, and martial arts classes. If there is something you've wanted to try, now's the time to check it out as a family!
1. Smile & Learn
Duration: 4 to 14 minutus
Age: 2 to 8
If you're already reaching peek cabin-fever, it might be time to introduce your kid to yoga. This series teaches kids real yoga moves that they can master in four minutes, or full 14-minute routines in their calming and centering videos for kids. Through fun stories with animals representing familiar yoga poses, even the littlest kids will be able to learn centering movement and breathing techniques. These emotional intelligence-based educational videos help children relax and learn to self-regulate.
2. Petite Feet
Cost: $5 to rent and $20 to purchase
Duration: 35 minutes
Age: 2 to 6
Petite Feet is excellent ballet instruction for the preschool set. Liz, Waldo, and their dancing friends take kids through stretches, games, ballet combinations, and dancing adventures in their video series. Miss Liz's video classes are friendly, lively, and promote creativity, dance skill development and educational foundations through movement. These videos feature original music, animation, and a selection of bonus chapters offering options for dancers at different stages of their dance development to help tailor your child's lessons.
3. Cosmic Kids
Cost: Free on YouTube or $65 for a year on the app
Duration: Anywhere from 4 to 40 minutes
Age: 3 to 8
Yoga is great for strength, coordination, balance, and body awareness while also enhancing focus, breathing, and relaxation. This kid-friendly approach to yoga and mindfulness uses story to take kids through poses and guided meditations. Using familiar character arcs from everything from "Frozen" to "Pokemon," kids get a side of silly with their namaste. Cosmic Kids is free on YouTube, or you can pay $65 for an ad-free app with videos you can play offline at any time.
4. Activity Works
Duration: 3, 6, or 12 minutes
Age: 4 to 10
A one-stop free shop for movement and educational activities. Activity Works is a series of cross-curricular, standards-based short videos that allow for short bursts of activity that are connected to downloadable curriculum. The program includes dozens of activity adventures that remain connected to a child's learning—from earth science to geography—and takes kids on adventures such as dancing with the dinosaurs or using movement to understand synonyms and antonyms. You can get a sampling of their offerings on their YouTube channel or you can unlock over 30 different videos on their website. This free program is having a full rollout on April 3, but until then you can login using with username: ActivityWorks; password: smartmoves.
5. UNICEF Kid Power Up
Duration: 3 to 5 minutes
Age: 5 to 14
Increase social awareness while banishing cabin-fever with interactive videos and an accompanying app featuring categories like high energy dance, moderate energy dance, yoga, and meditation. When kids get active with UNICEF Kid Power, they unlock lifesaving therapeutic food that UNICEF delivers to severely malnourished children.
If your kid is generally movement averse, they will be motivated by earning Kid Power Coins every time they move. The coins accumulate to help them give to worthy causes; the more kids dance and move, the more good they do. If that's not a motivation to put down the tablet and get in some exercise I don't know what is.
6. H.Y.P.E. Hip Hop Videos
Duration: 2, 6, and 10 minutes
Age: 11 and up
H.Y.P.E. stands for "Helping Young People Energize" and the dozens of multi-level hip-hop dance breaks offered do just that. Created by Hip Hop Public Health, the mission of H.Y.P.E. is to motivate youth to move more each day, and have fun while doing it.
Innovative, energizing, and invigorating, you can search for the perfect dance lesson and the exact duration needed for your child based on age, physical education standards, and specifics of movement. The instructions are simple and easy-to-follow for the kids. And, adults, if you've ever wanted to look more confident on the dance floor, this can help you walk away from this quarantine with some great new moves.
7. Pony Sweat
Cost: Free 50-minute video or $5 to $8 for streaming classes
Duration: 1 hour
Age: 8 and up
This is a dance class that's offered for adults, but Pony Sweat is so fun and instructor Emilia so darn charming that even my 6-year-old son likes it. They have a free 50-minute video that, honestly, never gets old. You can break up into smaller segments, or you can check into their online, live-streaming classes that run $5 to $8 a pop. Your whole family will get an endorphin high off of this one and with a soundtrack by the likes of Santigold to Cyndi Lauper, you'll have the best songs stuck in your head after the brain break is long over.
8. NEO Kids
Cost: Free for 30 days; after trial, download in the App Store and Google Play for $14.99/month or $99.99/year
Duration: 5, 10, or 20 minutes
Age: 4 to 12
NEOU Fitness, an on-demand streaming service offering thousands of workout classes, has something just for kids. NEO Kids is a paid service, but NEOU is offering a free 30-day trial that can't be beat. These 10- to 20-minute classes bring high-energy, functional, bodyweight workouts that you and your kids can experience together. From budding athlete to first-time fitness, NEO Kids is for every child and parent who wants to move around, have a great time, and take a quick break from their homework or daily life hustles.
9. Move to Learn
Duration: 5 minutes
Age: 3 to 18
Studies show that just five minutes of physical activity nearly doubles student engagement. With dozens of five-minute videos that you can easily call up to shake off tension and get kids re-focused, this program is the perfect brain break for all ages. Created expressly to help students shake out nervous energy and get back on task, all of the videos are aligned with free, downloadable standards-based curriculum, so if you have suddenly found yourself being a full-time teacher for your kids, Move to Learn has both the body and mind covered. The free video/lesson plan combos are broken clearly into age groups that range from pre-K through high school.
Duration: 2 to 5 minutes
Age: 3 to 12
GoNoodle is silly and smart and downright catchy. Loved by teachers, your kids will probably already recognize GoNoodle from their classroom and will slide right into the routine at home. This incredibly popular video series gets kids moving to be their strongest, bravest, silliest, smartest, bestest selves. Videos run the range of dancing, stretching, running, jumping, deep breathing, and wiggling. GoNoodle has an extensive YouTube channel; you should check that out and then also visit their website, which includes a whole body/mind streaming library with links to mindfulness meditations, and empathy and empowerment tools.
Duration: 4 minutes
Age: 6 and older
This is a beat-dropping, bass-pumping, get-moving dance party—a collection of fun, easy-to-follow dance workout videos that burn off serious steam. Your kids will definitely have a blast, break a sweat, and feel a serious endorphin high after taking one of these mini-dance classes.
12. Koo Koo Kanga Roo
Duration: 3 minutes
Age: 3 to 10
Koo Koo Kanga Roo is the dance-along show from Bryan and Neil, two friends who set out to experiment with live music and make it more fun. These videos are kooky (as the name would suggest) and fun. Koo Koo Kanga Roo is an all-ages, gold-sneaker-wearing type of dance party that invites everyone to join in. Popular in classrooms for their "brain break" videos, they'll be just as popular in your living room.
13. Little Sports
Duration: About 15 minutes
Age: 3 to 8
Not every kid wants to dance. This series is a good option for the kids that really want a true workout routine that makes them feel strong and focuses on muscle groups. The animation in this full-on workout system for kids is a little stiff, but kids don't seem to mind and the routines are solid. They also work on body areas to help kids better understand muscle groups.
14. KIDZ BOP
Duration: 3 minutes
Age: 7 to 11
Popular dance tunes adapted with PG lyrics, KIDZ BOP is the #1 music brand for kids in the U.S. The songs are relentlessly catchy, so encourage your kids to move to the music. Kids will love dancing to their favorite KIDZ BOP songs.
15. Zumba Kids
Duration: 3 minutes
Age: 7 to 11
Zumba Kids classes feature kid-friendly routines based on original Zumba choreography. These videos break down the steps really well and also add games, activities, and cultural exploration elements into the class structure.
16. Fitbound Inclusion Workouts
Duration: 12 to 15 minutes
Age: 7 and up
Fitbound creates a cross-cultural bridge using exercise to promote unity and awareness. This inclusive video series features short videos that represent different individuals and present modifications for kids with and without disabilities. Fitbound’s short activity bursts instill good physical fitness habits, improve cognitive function and help break down barriers for individuals with disabilities.
17. 20 Online
Duration: 20 minutes
Age: 6 to 10
These free classes are fun for kids who like sports and martial arts. They incorporate basketball jumps and karate kicks and help kids feel sporty as they work out frustrations and get their endorphins going.
Duration: 5 to 30 minutes
Age: 14 and up
POPSugar is geared toward adults, but they have a terrific beginner section that's great for teens with lots of no-equipment options to choose from. This one is great because the music is light, fun, and motivating. The instructions are clear, and since it is devoid of contouring makeup on muscle groups and closeup shots of abs, it feels more appropriate for younger audiences.
19. Jazzercize on Demand
Cost: Free for 14 days; $19.99/month (app & website) or $195/year (website only)
Duration: 10 to 40 minutes
Age: 8 and up
Remember the Jazzercise craze? The original dance cardio workout is still around and it's a great way to get moving while staying indoors. The on-demand program is extending their normal weeklong free trial period to 14 days due to the current social distancing recommendations. With 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-minute sessions, it's perfect for a quick dance sesh with the kiddos or a genuine sweat for you. There are dance cardio sessions for the family, and more targeted muscle and stretching sessions so you can keep your fitness routine well-rounded.
Duration: 10 to 15 minutes
Age: 12 and up
Who knows how long we'll be home-bound? This workout is cheerful and focuses on body, mind, and overall positivity—which we are all going to need as the days drag on. Blogilates has a downloadable, day-by-day calendar that targets specific areas each day and keeps you on track if your family is the type to to turn a rest day into a rest week. Instructor Cassey is sweet and motivating and her sessions are a lesson in body dynamics, teaching viewers how some moves can help with posture and to help them minimize injuries. This is another one that's geared to adults but is a great choice for older kids. Some videos use hand weights but most are equipment-free.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.