Active Play Every Day

Children need active play opportunities to be healthy and able to learn. It doesn’t just happen. A quality curriculum provides opportunities for active play. ECELS suggests combining physical activity with other learning objectives. For example, children use math when they count the times they skip, jump, or toss a ball.

Plan more time outdoors. Children do more moderate to vigorous physical activity outdoors than indoors.  Caring for Our Children Standard for physical activity says that all children, birth to six years should participate daily in 2-3 occasions of active play outdoors. Toddlers and preschoolers should have two or more structured or teacher-led activities or games that promote movement over the course of an 8 hour day, indoors or outdoors. Use these guidelines to plan physical activity for each age group:

  • Infants: tummy time divided into periods the infant will tolerate. At other times, infants should have opportunities to roll, kick, reach for toys, and practice motions needed to crawl, stand, sit and walk.
  • Toddlers: 60 to 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous play per 8 hour day. Examples:  access to riding toys, balls, tunnels and low climbers.
  • Preschoolers: 90 to 120 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per 8 hour day. Examples: free space to jump, dance, and dig, riding toys, balls to throw and chase, rocking boats, stairs and hills to climb, hopscotch, ribbons and hoops to twirl, and sweeping.
  • School Age Children: Keep everyone moving and having fun most of the time. Examples: skip, jog, climb structures/stairs/hills, ride scooters, throw/catch, run, jump rope, play hopscotch, go through an obstacle course, dig, or rake.

For more about active play, use the ECELS Active Play Webinar or recorded webinars about this topic at  Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021