Motor illiteracy: 10 games to educate children about movement

The ‘ motor illiteracy is a serious problem that is spreading among children. It is the inability to perform even very simple activities such as running or doing somersaults. Here then is the importance of rediscovering some “old” (but evergreen) games that can positively stimulate the little ones by making them move while having fun.

We don’t let this happen to our children, so we offer them a series of games that develop and train motor skills. Many of us will remember the times when we played and had fun with little: chalks, a rubber band, a rope, a sidewalk or a garden. All that remains is to rediscover our childhood games that will also be appreciated by today’s children and in this way we will avoid, among other things, falling into oblivion by continuing to pass them on from generation to generation.


1. Hide and seek

This is a game that children of all ages love and that can be played both outdoors and indoors. It takes at least two people to play, but the more you are, the more fun. First of all, the count is made for those who will have to look for other people who will instead hide.

The child who has to count stands with his eyes closed in front of a tree or a wall that will represent the “den”. You can decide to count up to 10 but also to 20, 30, or 40, etc. at will or depending on where you play. Once the child arrives at the end, he shouts “away” so that everyone knows he is starting to look for others.

Every time he spots one of his friends he must go back to the base shouting “den for” and the name of the child found. If he succeeds in this, the player is eliminated, if instead the latter arrives first at the wall or the tree and shouts “den for me”, he is free. The last player left in the game has the extra chance to free everyone if he reaches the lair and shouts ” Tana free everyone “. In this case the child who has already counted will have to do it again. If this does not happen, it will be up to the first child found to count.

2. Bell

The bell is an ancient and very famous game that depending on the different Italian regions can have different names: world, row, paradise, week, etc. To play you need chalks with which to draw on a sidewalk, if instead you play on the ground, the bell can be engraved with a stick. It is necessary to reproduce a bell tower that can actually vary in composition, generally the path is composed of 10 boxes numbered progressively starting from one and up to 10, which follow one another in an Indian row except to become two side by side in a couple of blocks.

Once the pattern is done, the child throws a pebble in box number 1 and begins the path by jumping on one foot but avoiding the marked box. The aim is to get to the top of the bell and then go back picking up the pebble and starting again this time by throwing it on box 2 and so on. In correspondence of the blocks of two squares placed side by side the player can place both feet.

The goal is to never lose your balance and do the whole course well and by marking all 10 boxes with the pebble, any mistake involves passing the turn to the next player. The variants foresee that the route can be made more difficult, for example by walking it with your eyes closed, with the stone on your head or something else.

3. The elastic

For this game you need a 3 or 4 meter long elastic band and at least 3 participants, two in fact must keep the elastic taut between their spread legs while the other is busy jumping, creating figures that have a precise order that is established by all players together. Once the sequence is over, the game continues by repeating everything and lifting the elastic on the calves, knees, thighs, etc. In this way, jumping becomes increasingly difficult and only those who manage to repeat well, and higher, the sequence will win.

There are several variations in the sequence of movements to be made. An example would be:

  • Feet inside the elastic
  • Feet outside the elastic and back inside
  • Right foot out, left foot in and back inside
  • Left foot out, right in and back
  • Feet both over the elastic and back
  • With your feet inside, jump apart, spreading the elastic
  • With your feet on the outside, always spread your legs from the outside, hopping and approaching the sides of the elastic
  • Feet inside the elastic
  • Parallel feet out of the elastic

4. One two three, star

You play in more people, after doing the count one leans in front of the wall with your hand over your eyes and counts out loud 1, 2, 3 star before turning around suddenly. The other players must stand about 15 paces from him. The object of the game is to move very quickly towards the wall, stopping immediately before the person who counts turns around. In fact, if they are seen, the participants must go back to the starting point. Whoever arrives first at the finish line without being seen wins and takes the place of who had previously counted.

A nice variant of 1,2,3 star is Regina Reginella . The goal is always to get to the wall, but in this case we must each time reciting the nursery rhyme “Queen queen, how many steps should I take to get to your castle with faith and with the ring, with the tip of the knife?”  Who guide the game, i.e. the queen who is near the wall, she will have to say for example 2 elephant steps (large steps), 2 ant (small steps), 5 lion, 4 kangaroo or other animal variants including the shrimp (which causes it to recede). It is evident that in this way the game is driven a lot by the queen herself who basically favors and makes whoever she wants win.

5. Steal flag

To play the flag, an even number of players will be required to split into two teams. Then you need someone who holds the flag (he can also be an adult if there are not enough children). The players are placed on two parallel lines and each one is assigned a number in order of row. Those who carry the flag (which is nothing more than a handkerchief or a piece of cloth), on the other hand, will find themselves in the center of the playing field and will call the various numbers that will have to run and challenge each other for those who first manage to steal the flag, carrying it in its place without crossing the line dividing the field, under penalty of elimination. If on the way back they are touched by the opponent, the point goes to the other team. The team that first reaches 15 points wins.

6. Blind fly

To play blind fly you need a scarf or a bandana to tie on the eyes of a drawn player. It can be done both outdoors, delimiting the playing field, and in a fairly large room and a certain number of players are needed. The “blind fly”, that is the blindfolded player, is made to turn on itself so that it loses its orientation and then is left free to turn around in the space in order to catch some of the friends who are around it. There are two variants: in the first one, it is enough for the fly to take someone to win and be replaced, in the other, on the other hand, it must also guess who it is by touching the face with the hands.

7. The leapfrog

This game requires great motor skills as you have to jump by leaning only with your hands on another child folded like a leapfrog, overcoming it without touching it in any other way. It takes some participants to play, the first one leans forward and hides his head in his hands, then becomes the leapfrog, the others get in line to jump over him in turn, spreading his legs to the maximum so as not to get stuck on or fall over.

There are different variations of the game: in one, all the children, once the jump is performed, in turn become leapfrog and let themselves be jumped by the others. Once the queue is over, the first child who started riding the horse will also be able to jump. In another case, however, those who manage to jump at their best will not be penalized or jump.

8. Skipping rope

This game is played with at least 3 participants, two hold and turn the rope and one jumps. You can jump together, alternate or backwards, making everything more difficult. When stumbling, the turn passes to the next player.
There are several versions of the game: in one the jumping person says “pepper” and “salt” to make the rope spin faster or slower. Many will remember the fruit rhyme : apple, pear, orange, plum, strawberry and cherry! (or variants) that the jumping person must recite. In this case, each child is assigned a fruit and when the one who jumps is wrong, the person corresponding to the fruit on which he has jammed will take his place.

9. The four cantons

To play in the 4 cantons, at least 5 participants are required and it is a game to play outdoors. 4 playgrounds are created which will be occupied by 4 different children respectively. By counting, you choose what remains in the middle. Those who occupy the 4 cantons will have to swap their position often and quickly without the person in the middle stealing their place. If he succeeds, the child left without a canton ends up in the middle. If there are more children, you can possibly increase the number of cantons or get more people in between.

A nice variant, and a little different, of this game, is called ” upside” and also lends itself to being homemade. A child is at the center and when he shouts “rise” everyone must move to go and get on some higher surface: step, bench, wall, stone, etc. or, if playing at home, beds, sofas, chairs, etc. Whoever is caught goes to the center and has to catch the others.

10. Hula hoop

The hula hoop is a circular toy that children can use by wearing it around the pelvis and rotating it quickly with a precise movement that is not easy for everyone. In reality, the exercises that can be done with this tool are various and of different difficulty: it can be rotated on the ankles, at the height of the knees and even on the neck and head. It is no coincidence that it is also used in circus art. Adding more hula hoops makes it even more difficult. Children can then invent other ways of using it, for example by going inside or jumping inside creating an obstacle course.

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