Everyday Household Items to Get Your Kids Moving


Everyday Household Items to Get Your Kids Moving

By Samantha Goldman

Life is quite different for kids right now. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have decided to continue to socially distance throughout the summer. Instead of going to camp, playing outside with friends, or traveling, kids are now spending the majority of their time at home. 

According to parents, instead of being active, children are choosing to spend their time watching TV or playing video games. And since most parents are still working, albeit from home, they are unable to entertain their kids or make sure they are getting adequate physical activity. At this point, many parents have also run out of ideas for fun activities in the home.

Public health experts have voiced concern about the increase in unhealthy behaviors that some children struggling with their weight have exhibited during social distancing1,2

As we adjust to this new normal, it’s time for us to start thinking outside the box, and figuring out new ways to motivate children to move while inside their home.

Guess what? There are items laying all around your house that you can use to easily get your kids moving and having fun!  

Some of my favorite household items to use with children:

  1. Cardboard Boxes

If you are anything like our family, you’ve probably been getting more packages delivered to your house because of all the online shopping. Instead of just recycling these empty cardboard boxes, use them to get your kid moving. Of course you can make a castle or fort where your kids can sit, but an even better idea is to make a kid-powered race car or train to get them moving! To make it more fun, challenge your family to setup a relay-race or a “Mario-Kart” track. 

2. Empty Paper Towels Rolls

Empty paper towel rolls are the perfect size to use for a backyard miniature “golfing hole.” Another way to use them creatively is to rest them at an angle, like a ramp for toy cars. Drop the cars through the hole and see if your kids can run and catch them before they come to a stop!  

3. Stepstool 

This is one of my favorite objects for working on balance. You would be surprised how many kids have a hard time stepping up with one foot without losing their balance. Usually I’ll put a piece of paper on the wall and have them step up to place a sticker on it. Or, have your child sit on the stool while you play a board or reaching game to work on their abdominal muscles. Just make sure you hold the stool steady during these activities.

4. Brooms

If you are someone who sweeps your floor a lot, your child may enjoy copying you. You can tape a square on the floor and make a game out of seeing how much of the dirt they can get inside the tape. Some of my peers have also suggested using the broom as a hockey stick and a sock as a ball!  

5. Laundry Basket 

Laundry baskets are great for upper arm strengthening. All of those clothes make the laundry basket just heavy enough for your child to carry, push, or pull around the house. When it’s empty, you can use the laundry basket to work on hand-eye coordination by tossing soft balls inside. Or you can work on balance and lower body coordination by turning it on its side and using it as a goal post.

6. Folding Table

One way to use a folding table as one phase of an obstacle course. You can have your child crawl under the table either by army crawling or doing animal walks. Pair this with the stepstool, and paper towel rolls, and you will really have your child moving. After you’re done with the obstacle course, you can throw a blanket over the table and make a fort!

7. Construction Paper

The best part about construction paper is its versatility. One idea is to create a movement path by cutting out hands and feet and taping them in different directions on the floor. Or, you can put a piece of construction paper on the wall and have your child throw a soft ball for target practice. You can also work on upper body strength by taping construction paper underneath a short table and having your kids draw pictures while laying on their back.

The ideas are endless if you use your imagination! Just because our new normal is different, doesn’t mean it has to be boring. I hope this article inspires you to transform everyday items around your house to make physical activity FUN!

  1. Pietrobelli, A., Pecoraro, L., Ferruzzi, A., Heo, M., Faith, M., Zoller, T., Antoniazzi, F., Piacentini, G., Fearnbach, S. N., & Heymsfield, S. B. (2020) Effects of COVID19 lockdown on lifestyle behaviors in children with obesity living in Verona, Italy: A Longitudinal Study. Obesity. DOI: 10.1002/oby.22861
  2. Southey, F. (2020). Coronavirus lockdown found to worsen childhood obesity: “The excess weight gained might not be easily reversible.” Food Navigator. Retrieved from https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2020/06/05/Coronavirus-lockdown-found-to-worsen-childhood-obesity


Samantha Goldman is an occupational therapist who helps children struggling with their weight get healthy while having FUN! You can find out more about Samantha at her website www.theot4me.com, or by following her on Facebook @ot4me.