The Parenting Cipher Logo
December 24, 2021

6 Physical Activity Ideas for Kids With Special Needs

Children generally love to move around and play. Staying active is not only important for their physical health but also for their mental and emotional development. Special needs kids enjoy the same benefits from physical activity. Hands-on activities that involve creativity and problem-solving can also serve as ways for kids to excel in STEM. However, it might be more challenging to find physical activities that suit their needs.

Parents and teachers can either develop physical exercises for children with special needs or modify existing games and activities so that all children can participate in them. Either choice will be fine, as long as the welfare of the kids is prioritized. 

How do you get kids with special needs to move around and have fun? Read on to get inspiration in making inclusive and enjoyable activities for children with unique needs.

Child kicking soccer ball

Things to remember when planning activities for special needs kids

  • Put the children’s safety first. If you are organizing activities in school, check the students’ Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) to see necessary considerations for the students’ safety.

  • Recognize the differences among kids with different special needs. If the children in the group have varying needs, they will have to be accommodated differently. Make sure the physical activities are suited to the abilities and needs of the kids.

  • Increase children’s participation. Adaptations such as changing the equipment, the speed of movement, and the space should be made. Also, consider providing peer assistance through peer helpers.

  • Promote a healthy lifestyle. Even when children’s physical skills are limited, let them know the other positive choices they can make with regard to their health, such as eating nutritious food.

Exercise ideas for kids with special needs

These are general ideas to help you encourage your child or student to stay physically active.

Include exercise in their morning routine

It is vital to exercise regularly. Having a morning routine that includes moving around will help your child be more comfortable with exercising. You can make simple activities like getting dressed fun and active. For instance, you can designate an exercise for every piece of your child’s clothing and hide the clothes around the room so that he/she has to exercise before putting it on. This will take longer than usual, but by the end of it, your child has not only dressed up but has had a good morning stretch.

Design an indoor obstacle course

Controlling the space where physical activity is held is important for safety. An indoor obstacle course can be fun and challenging as long as you incorporate many kinds of movements, and provide enough guidance through verbal or written instructions. Get creative with the different “walks” you can ask children to do, like a crab walk, bunny hop, or penguin walk. Modify actions according to the child’s needs and abilities. End with genuine praise. 

Dance to warm up

The best thing about dancing is that there is no right or wrong dance step. Children can swing and sway freely, or copy the dance moves that they love. It’s a good warm-up activity as long as students are instructed to move essential parts of the body from limbs to the head. Plus, you can choose lively music to energize the kids.

little girl with arms stretched our to show her butterfly wings

Play simplified ball games

Adapted bowling can be fun and easy for students with various abilities. Balls of yarn or foam can be used while pins can be plastic cones, blocks, or anything that works well with the modified bowling balls. To help children topple more pins, you can stretch rubber bands between the legs of a chair or table so that kids can use their hands or feet to slingshot the ball toward the bowling pins. You may also simplify other ball games and let children play collaboratively. 

Give old children’s games a new spin

A game of “Simon Says” can be frustrating for kids who keep missing the “Simon Says” cue. But worry not, the game can be modified so that children who miss the cue can still play. Just create a second circle for kids who miss the cue, but still allow them to participate in the game alongside the first circle.

Let kids experiment

If kids want to spin on a swing or use an exercise ball, you can let them. Just make sure to take the necessary precautions. If they want to exercise their fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination through playing mobile or computer games, that’s fine, too. You can even encourage them to learn coding for kids. Pay attention to your children’s interests as much as their needs.

Final words: Keeping your kids active

Kids with special needs can stay active by having exercise in their morning routine, participating in indoor obstacle games, dancing, playing simplified ball games or children’s games, and experimenting with online and offline toys. Physical activity will help children grow physically and mentally. Games can even help them develop skills. Listen to this podcast on how diverse programs can help your child.

The Parenting Cipher Logo

Copyright © 2023 The Parenting Cipher – All Rights Reserved. Designed by Arising Co.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram