It’s important to choose wisely when selecting free toddler race games. Some racing games, such as a three-legged race or even a potato sack race, require physical skills and coordination that toddlers have not yet developed. These games will be too frustrating for toddlers or may even be dangerous, especially if they are played with older children. However, if care is taken in selection, race games are great activities for toddlers to burn off extra energy and can help toddlers develop physical abilities and other skills.
Benefits of Free Toddler Race Games
Burning off extra energy is certainly a valuable side effect of participation in active play, one for which parents are especially grateful. However, there are other benefits as well. Racing games for toddlers can do the following:
- Provide a cardiovascular workout
- Help build coordination, balance and stamina
- Strengthen large muscle groups
- Provide interactive socialization with peers, even for toddlers without extensive verbal skills
This is a very simple race game that can be adapted to allow toddlers of varying physical abilities to compete against one another, with a more level playing field. To set up the slalom course, use soft traffic cones spaced one yard apart. If you don’t have traffic cones just lying around at your house, you can use half gallon plastic milk jugs or one liter plastic soda containers. Fill the bottom with just an inch or two of sand to keep them toppling over in the wind. It might be tempting to use coffee cans, but they are much too solid and will cause injury if the toddler falls on them.
For less physically adept toddlers, you will want to increase the distance between the cones. For more physically developed or older toddlers, you can decrease the space between the cones. Toddlers probably won’t be able to follow verbal instructions about how to weave in and out of the cones. Instead, take each toddler by the hand and run the race with each of them, saying “Now we go to other side of the cone” to explain the race step by step. Because this race will likely lead to some falling, it should always be done on a grassy surface, never on concrete.
Simon Says Race
This race is a variation on a favorite. Toddlers start by walking and are then given different instructions such as run, hop etc. The toddler should follow the direction only if preceded by the words “Simon says.” If one of the race participants doesn’t follow the instructions, he or she has to take three big steps backwards. In addition to run and hop, the toddlers can be told to do the following:
- Walk with a body part touching another body part, for example, walk with their hand on their head
- Take a certain number of giant steps forward
- Walk like an elephant (that is, using one arm as a trunk)
- Walk and clap their hands before each step
This is a cooperative race game that teaches taking turns and also familiarizes toddlers with the relay concept that they may encounter later in their physical education classes. Pick a medium sized plush toy. A teddy bear is ideal because it is typically an appropriate size and is easy to hold on to, but any soft, stuffed toy will do. Avoid dolls that have plastic faces or plastic arms and legs; these can hurt if the toddler falls on them.
Instruct the toddlers that the teddy bear is a very “special delivery” and that it will take all three of them to deliver it. This game may not work with more than three because the toddlers will get bored and wander away. Place the toddlers at three different locations. Give the first toddler the bear and say “special delivery” and point her towards the next toddler. As the first toddler approaches the second, she can say “special delivery’ (or not, depending on her verbal skills) and hand off the bear, then the second toddler begins running, and so on.
Fun and Active Games Promote Health
Games like Simon Says Race, Special Delivery and the Slalom Race are activities that make use of toddlers’ enthusiasm to encourage physical activity. These free toddler race games are one way to help very young children build healthy body habits. Games that are active and fun will help them see exercise as a delight rather than a chore.