Physical Games to Play With a 4 Year Old

By Sara Ipatenco
Playing ball is a simple physical game.
Playing ball is a simple physical game.

Physical activity helps keep your four-year-old healthy and can help prevent childhood weight problems. It's also fun and helps your preschooler burn off energy. Playing physical games with your child is great way for you to spend time together, and it lets you model the importance of exercise and teach your child that being active is enjoyable. As an added bonus, you can tick exercise off your to-do list when you're done playing.

Obstacle Course

Create an obstacle course in your backyard. Set up plastic cones so your four-year-old can weave through them. Use stools as hurdles for your child to jump over. Set out a jump rope for a quick jump, or use your child's slide as part of the course. Include activities that require him to crawl, jump and run. Once you've designed your course, run through it so your child knows what he's supposed to do. Don't include too many activities, though, or your preschooler might get frustrated. Time him to see how long it takes to finish the obstacle course. Challenge him to go even faster the next time around.

Follow the Leader

Have your child stand behind you and ask her to mimic everything that you do. Start walking, but stop to hop or skip or jump every few steps. You might also turn circles, sit down then stand right back up or take three steps backward. Once your four-year-old has the hang of it, switch places and let her be the leader. Encourage her to do as many different activities as possible so she gets a good workout from the game.

Walk Like An Animal

Not only is this game a good way to squeeze in some physical activity, but it will reinforce animal sounds, too. Begin by choosing an animal, such as a lion, tiger or giraffe. Tell your child what animal you're thinking of and then walk around pretending to be that animal. Be as silly as you can, and don't worry about anyone watching. Your child will be so delighted to play with you that it won't matter how ridiculous you look. Take turns choosing what animal to be or let your child keep picking. For a good laugh, include challenging animals like porcupines, worms and camels.

Ball Games

Use a ball to play any number of organized or made-up games. Stand several feet apart and bounce the ball back and froth between each other. Throw and catch the ball as another simple game that promotes physical activity. Give your child a ball and see how far she can throw it. Use a tape measure to see how far she got it. Challenge her to throw it even farther next time. Kick a soccer ball back and forth as another physical game that builds your four-year-old's gross motor skills.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.