Top 10 Core Strengthening Activities for your child

Core strength title

5 min read

As an Occupational Therapist too often I see kids who struggle having a weak core. At school they have challenges sitting still in class and have a difficult time writing and keeping their balance while climbing the playground structures. I wanted to reach more parents therefore, I have decided to put together a blog post that will provide you with valuable core strengthening activities that you can do with your child.

Why does my child need to have a strong core?

Strong core is essential to your child’s development. It is a foundation that gives your child the control over how to move their body.

Having a strong core provides your child with balance required to play or stay seated in a chair without fidgeting. It allows your child to use both hands together to do crafts and use pencils or scissors. Therefore, core is part of everything that we do and it is essential to your child’s development.

What is a core?

Core is a group of deep postural muscles that act like an internal anchor. These core muscles include the diaphragm and muscles located in the abdomen, back and pelvis. Other surrounding muscles use the core muscles to complete their movements.

Why do so many kids have a weak core?

There are many reasons why kids may have weak muscles.

  • It could be due to a developmental delay
  • Decreased time on physical activity due to interest in more sedentary activities such as video games or TV
  • Increased academic demands that don’t allow much play time

Whatever the reason I am here to provide you with some activity ideas from my experience as an occupational therapist. These activities will put your child on the right path to strengthening their core.


Core Strengthening Activities: Bubbles

A thing to remember is that breath is the key to strengthening the core. It helps to create stability in movement through the correct use of a diaphragm. As well, it helps to regulate the alertness by staying focused and alert.

Games to encourage deep breathing:

  • Whistles or Kazoos
  • Musical instruments such as a harmonica or a flute
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Bubble snake

Occupational Therapy Tip: To strengthen the diaphragm encourage your child to have a longer exhale than inhale.

For example: Inhale for a count of 2 and exhale for a count of 3 or more.

Core Strengthening Activities

1. Falling Meteors

Equipment: Balloon
Position: Have your child lie down on their back with their knees bend at 90 degrees and feet off the ground.

How to play

While your child is in the described position slowly drop a balloon towards their feet. Then, encourage your child to hit the balloon with their feet and bounce it up.

2. Rolly Polly Challenge

Equipment: Nil
Position: Have your child lie down on the floor and curl up like a ball. Ideally you want your child to have knees almost touching their chest, arms crossed over their chest, head off the floor and chin tucked in towards the neck.

How to play

Your child can pretend to be a curled up rolly polly. Once curled up you can count together to see how long they can stay in that position. See if the next time they can beat their own score and stay curled up for longer.

3. Roll away tag

Core Strengthening Activities: Roll away tag

Equipment: Nil
Position: Have your child and another child or an adult lie down on the floor parallel to each other

How to play

This is another fun core strengthening activity that incorporates a chasing game with a twist. Have your child lie down on the floor ready to roll. Once ready, they have to roll fast to get away from the other person chasing them.

The person (child or adult) that is doing the chasing is trying to catch them while also rolling after the child.

Ready, set, GO! Repeat by swapping the roles.

Occupational Therapy Tip:
Rolling games help to move the ribcage, which is an important part of strengthening the core.

4. Push over a statue

Equipment: Nil
Position: Player 1 gets on all fours and player 2 stands.

How to play

This game requires two people.

The goal of the game is for one person to push the other down to the ground.
Person 1 is usually an adult. He or she gets on all fours and tries to hold this position while your child tries to push you down.
Person 2 is usually your child at the start. Your child tries to push down the statue, which is the person on all fours.
Once the statue is knocked down you can switch roles and play again.

Occupational Therapy Tip:
As an adult, provide just enough resistance so that your child has to use their strength during pushing. However, do let them succeed after a while and knock you down to the ground.

5. Rock n Roll

Equipment: Nil
Position: Sit on the floor with knees bend and arms wrapped around their knees.

How to play

Once the child is in this position tell them to rock back and forward.

Occupational Therapy Tip:
While rocking try to work towards your child’s chin being tucked towards their chest.

6. Crab Walk

Equipment: Nil
Position: Have your child sit on the floor, then place their hands behind their back with palms flat on the floor. Then, they lift up their bottom so their arms are straight and knees are bend at 90 degrees.

How to play

Once in a position your child is now ready to walk like a crab. They can:

  • Move forward, backwards or sideways
  • Walk on different surfaces, up or down different inclines
  • Try a crab walk race
  • Crab bowling game: Kick a ball to knock down bowling pins

7. Tiger walk

Equipment: Nil
Position: Get on all fours.

How to play

  • Crawl on different surfaces, up or down inclines
  • Have a tiger race
  • Try crawling on uneven surface such as pillows spread across the floor
  • Puzzle fun: Crawl to one side of the room to pick a puzzle piece. Then, crawl back to the opposite side of the room to put pieces together.

8. Snake slither

Equipment: Nil
Position: Have your child lie down on their belly with their hands by their sides.

How to play

To get moving your child has to wiggle their hips and shoulders side to side. The goal is for your child to move without using their hands.

While slithering like a snake your child can:

  • Have a race with another snake
  • Try doing it inside and outside on the grass or sand
  • Enjoy some pretend play

9. Bean Bag target throwing

Target Throwing

Equipment: Bean bags/rolled up socks/plush toys and a target (laundry basket, bowling pins or stacked up blocks)
Position: Have your child lie down on their back

How to play

Place the bean bags on the floor above your child’s head. Have them pick one up, then sit up and throw it at or in the target. Keep going until all the bean bags have been used or target has been knocked down.

10. Fun Outdoor Activities

  • Log roll down a grassy hill. Simply get on top of the hill and roll down.
  • Climb: trees, ladders and slides
  • Explore playground structures
  • Ride a bike or a scooter down the hill and up the hill
  • Swim

In summary I want to mention that the most important ingredient is to HAVE FUN!! and you can do it by incorporating these core strengthening activities into your child’s play.

For more core strengthening activities make sure you check out Indoor Movement Activities for Kids at home.

Until next time,

~ Urszula

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