Exergaming is all the rage now with parents (and corporations) trying to figure out how to get kids up off the couch and moving. The Wii and Xbox Kinect are the biggest sensation in exergaming, finally allowing parents to feel less guilty about hours spent in front of the TV, but there are lots of other fun games that get kids moving while they are having fun playing. And, hey, it's not so bad for mom and dad to play along and get a little exercise too. I've been surprised at how out of breath I can get from playing these games and you don't have to spend a lot.
Top 5 Games that get kids moving:
Everybody loves Cranium games. From the company that makes really fun, non-competitive games, Hullabaloo has been a family favorite with us for years. Amazingly, it really has worked for my kids from toddlers to 10 years old.
Hullabaloo is kind of like twister, but more fun and fast-paced. A recorded voice commands everyone to do a random set of instructions that get you moving around the floor, dancing, silly walking and generally acting like a monkey. Kids love it and I find myself slowly dragging so it must be good exercise.
Cat in the Hat - I Can Do That!
Some guys who used to work at Cranium started their own thing and invented the fun I Can Do That Game series, all of which get kids moving in fun ways. The Cat in the Hat game gives children aged 4-10 fun challenges like crawling under a stick with a boat on your back. Silly, active, fun and the sense of accomplishment. Smells like a winner to me.
Wild Planet Hyper Dash
Hyper Dash is a good game to get slightly older kids running around even in a small apartment or it's small enough to take outside to the park easily. Suggested for kids aged 7 to 12, the Hyper Dash joystick gives out commands that kids have to dash around to pick up the different colored and numbered targets. It keeps track of your times so kids can race against each other or themselves.
The Yoga Garden Game (pictured above)
The Yoga Garden Game is another cooperative game that's great for little kids. Each player is a bumble bee who moves around the board planting flowers in a garden. Children learn and practice basic yoga poses as they travel around the board and get to invent their own.
TV Plug & Play Dance Pad
Dance Dance Revolution is the video game craze that preceded that Wii in getting kids moving in front of their screens. But you don't have to have a fancy gaming system to play it. This plug and play version simply plugs into the TV and you are ready to go. The special mat knows where you have stepped and keeps score just like the real thing. I have to tell you that this is a real work out and fun and you may find yourself playing it secretly during nap time.
The version we have is only $20 from Amazon, but some people think the crummy Atari-style graphics suck. We don't really care, but you can also get My First Dance Dance Revolution with better graphics and easy levels for little kids for $50.
Another tip to get kids moving during playtime:
All of the above games are ones that I personally like and think are great ways to make play time more active for our kids, but I also want to share a tip that I learned from going with my son to his sensory gym. What they do in his gym classes to get kids moving is take a game, set up an obstacle course and each turn that you take, the kids run the obstacle course.
The obstacle course can actually be anything. It could be doing jumping jacks, dancing, scooting on the floor, balancing on one foot, etc. So, you don't really need special equipment or even special games to get moving with your kids. Try it some time. Adding movement to any game can make it more fun!
Also check out my post on exercise games you can play at home with no purchase necessary.
Find more great gift ideas in our NYC Shopping Local Gift Guide and lots of other seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide.