Preschool Exercise Games

Children running

Physical activity keeps children healthy, improves motor skills and establishes the importance of a healthy lifestyle at a young age. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, preschoolers need at least one hour of structured physical activity and one hour of unstructured physical activity each day. The organization also warns against letting preschoolers stay sedentary for longer than an hour at a time. Turning exercise time into a game increases your child's excitement about physical activity.

Simon Says

Simon Says is a classic childhood game that lends itself well as a formal exercise activity. The leader calls out various exercises, such as touching toes, jumping jacks, hopping on one foot, running laps around the yard, skipping and walking backward. If the leader says, "Simon says," before calling out the exercise, the preschoolers perform the task. If not, they should stand still. In the usual version of Simon Says, a player who does the action without saying "Simon says" is eliminated. With very young children, you can modify the rule by having the child sit out one round, instead of being completely eliminated from the game.


Taking the kids on an imaginary safari allows them to be physically active while using their imaginations. Pretend to go on a safari through your home, backyard or school. Describe what the kids might see, then combine this with related actions. For example, you might pretend to swim across a crocodile-filled river quickly, climb a hill, jump over ravines or run away from a hungry lion.

Move Like Animals

Instruct preschoolers to walk like different animals as a form of exercise. To turn the activity into a game, hold animal-walk races. Line the kids up at one end of the yard. Call out an animal name, and have the kids walk like that animal as they race to the other end of the yard. They might hop like a frog, crawl like a crab, wobble like a duck or flap their arms to simulate a bird flying. This game adds an educational aspect to exercise, because the kids learn about animals and how they move.

Hula Hoop Hopping

A preschool child probably won't be able to twirl a hula hoop around her waist, but the inexpensive toy works well for other preschool physical activities. Place several hula hoops flat on the ground, and encourage the kids to hop in and out of them. For a more structured game, have the kids run or skip around the yard. When you blow a whistle, the kids run and jump inside a hula hoop.