Whole Body Exercises for Leopards – disabled children who are mobile with learning difficulties.

This page gives ideas and activities for your child which are great fun but also will challenge their whole body and keep them active.

Whole body exercises and gross motor skill exercises for children with disabilities
  • Moving your whole body has can help a child in their physical and cognitive development.

  • Moving the whole body improves strength, stamina, endurance, stability and mobility.

  • Cognitive skills whch are challenged include motor planning, problem solving, bilateral integration (using the 2 sides of the body and brain together).

  • Most of all there are loads of opportunities for fun while your child stays active. 

  • For those with Autism, exercise has resulted in marked improvements to numerous behavioural outcomes including improved social and communication skills,  stereotypical behaviours, social-emotional functioning, cognition and attention. 

  • See our other sections (coming soon!) on proprioception activities, vestibular activities and calming activities for more specific exercises to help your child with sensory processing difficulties. 

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Here are some ideas of games and activities you can do at home to keep your child active in the home.

Using Balloons, crumpled paper or a pair of socks to make your ball sports more house friendly 

  1. Obstacle course options are endless. You want to set it up to get your child to move in as many different ways as possible. (see this Our Home video for ideas of setting up a course) Use furniture to make your course – setting it up with the help of your child is a lovely way to get them active as they will need to carry and move furniture and objects with you.

  2. Let them come up with new obstacles as it will work their imaginations.

  3. You could have themes on different days e.g. pirates, beach, jungle, castles etc.

  4. Once your obstacle course is set up, you can also add some extra stages and mark them with a piece of paper or some tape. For example:

    1. – Hopping on the spot

    2. – Standing Long jumping (jump as far as possible with 2 feet or with 1 foot.)

    3. – Spinning on the spot

  5. – Once you have set this up you can ask them to negotiate the obstacles in different ways e.g.

    1. – As a different animal

    2. – Backwards

  1. You can draw out an obstacle course with painters tape in a room or along your walls. This great video can give you some ideas of how to set up a tape obstacle course/ sensory path.

2. Maybe put this along your corridor and your whole family can follow the steps each time they go through the corridor. 

3. You can also do this along the pavement using chalk. See our video for ideas of what to do. 

  1. Make different shapes on the floor with tape – each one requires a different action – e.g. jump on the spot, do a star jump, touch your toes, do a press up.

  2. Play musical shapes and whichever they land on when you stop the music is the action they must do.

  3. See this video for lots of other ideas to do with tape at home.

  1. Take photos of objects around your home using either a tablet or just on your computer or phone.

  2. Your child then needs to find each object around the house. See this ‘Our Home’ video as an example of the game in action).

  3. You could also hide objects around the house for the child to find.

  1. This is a great copy game. One person does an action and the other person has to copy them.

  2. This is a great way to convince your child to do any action you want from them!

  3. Alternatively ask them to lead the game and see where their imagination takes you.

  1. This game can provide hours of fun. 1 person can hide around the home while the other counts out loud to 10 and then has to go around the home to find them.

  2. Take turns in hiding and finding.

  3. If your home isn’t very big, you could adapt this to hiding an object for them to find – e.g. a sock or stuffed animal.

  4. You may want to start this game just in one room until they understand the game.

  1. This has the added bonus of creating a space for them to play in after it is built.

  2. Use sheets, cushions and furniture to build a den anywhere in the house.

  3. The process of building it should mean lots of moving furniture and lifting cushions so is a great way to get them moving without realising it.

  1. If you don’t have a parachute at home then a sheet will do the same job.

  2. Hold onto the edges between at least 3 of you.

  3. Put objects in the middle and make the objects move around the sheet by lifting or lowering your arms.

  4. Challenge your children to try and work out how to make the object jump as high in the air as possible or go around in a circle as quickly as possible.

  1. Wheelbarrow- hold your child by their hips with their legs straddling you and their hands on the floor. Move around the floor with your child walking on their hands, picking up objects for as far as they can go.

  2. Move your hands down to your child’s knees and walk around the room – picking up objects or playing a matching game or skittles.

  3. If you can, hold your child by their ankles. Make sure they keep their bottom in the air and don’t hang their tummy’s down. Again find a matching game, puzzles or a posting game to make this more entertaining. 

  4. You could also make an obstacle course to go around.

  1. Use a gym ball for a fun way to challenge your child’s balance.

  2. When using a gym/physio ball, make sure you have complete control of the ball and your child to try this – it may take 2 adults. You can wedge the ball into the corner of the room to make it more stable until you are more confident in your handling.

  3. Hold your child at their hips so you have control of their bottom and the ball. Very slowly move the ball in all directions. 

  4. As they get more confident you can move in bigger movements but keep going very slowly to challenge them.

  5. Hold the position at the extreme of where they can go to make it a little harder but have a second person ready to catch them if they fall.

  6. See if they can balance themselves sat on the ball with feet on the floor. If they manage this, ask them to lift 1 leg to balance.

  7. Ask them to lie back on the ball to pick up an object behind them and then make them sit up to give you the item.

  8. Be careful if your child is impulsive and lacks a sense of danger as gym balls can be a recipe for disaster in the wrong hands!

  1. Jumping is a fabulous workout for children.

  2. Your child can jump on the bed, off the sofa onto a pile of cushions (use a fitted sheet to help make sure the cushions won’t slip away as they bounce onto them) or just on the floor.

  3. Try giving them challenges – how many jumps can they do in a row. Can they throw and catch while they jump (this is harder than it sounds). Can they tuck their feet up as they jump and then land on their feet etc.

  4. If you have a trampoline  then these Trampoline Tutorials take you through the basic trampoline techniques in a very thorough and well described way.  Trampolining can be dangerous so we advise nets around the trampoline and supervision if your child is trying something new. 

  1. Turn up the music and let your child dance however they want to.

  2. Dancing is a brilliant form of exercise and there are numerous you tube channels with music to dance along to for younger kids – or just Pop music for older children.

  3. See our ‘Music at Home’ pages (coming soon!) for ideas of You-tube channels to try. Find one song that your child especially likes. Help your child with the movements to start with and, over time, they may well anticipate the next movement and start to take over. This is a great way to get a daily workout into your child’s life.

  4. This video from Flamingo chicks is the first in a series of inclusive dance videos which use Makaton and easy to follow steps to help your child to dance. They are each themed (this one is Space). Look out for more coming soon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zxhu2oh–8c&feature=youtu.be

5. These videos from ‘Just Dance Kids’ demonstrate some dance routines for your children to follow along to nursery rhymes and other well known childhood songs Kids Dance Songs on Just Dance Kids ! Kids Songs to Dance to.

  1. They could pretend to be different animals and make a game of it – try being a snake on the floor, a crab on their hands and feet (facing upwards) or bear walk on hands and feet, or kangaroo jumps.

  2. Make an obstacle course and challenge your child to complete it as different animals.

  3. Put names of different animals into a hat and the family has to guess what animal they are.

  1. Ask your child to put their feet into a pillow case – getting their feet into the corners helps with this game. They should then stand up and hold onto the top edge of the pillow case.

  2. Try walking or jumping around the house. Be careful as this may be slippery on hard floors. 

  1. An egg and spoon race is a great way to challenge hand eye coordination while multi-tasking. If your child struggles with keeping the ball on the spoon, try with a soft toy on a wooden spoon. 

  2. The child must get from A to B without the ball falling of their spoon. 

  3. Progress this by putting obstacles in the way. Firstly just to walk around, then try to step over objects. 

  1. Using a beanbag or soft toy is great for this game. 

  2. Try to get from one end of the room to the other without it falling off your head.  

  1. Stand 2 children of similar sizes side by side their feet next to each other. If there aren’t 2 children, try this with your child but remember to remove your shoes to reduce the risk of stepping painfully on their feet!

  2. Tie a dressing gown cord around the 2 people’s ankles. Make it nice and tight to make this more comfortable. Hold each other close and try to walk. 

  1. Set up several balls/ socks or beanbags about 1 meter apart with a bucket/ laundry basket at the end of the line (1m away).

  2. Your child should start at the bucket end and run to pick up the first ball/ beanbag.

  3. They should then run back to put it in the bucket.

  4. Next run to the second ball and run back to put it in the bucket.

  5. They should continue until all the beanbags are in the bucket. 

Use a combination of the sports day ideas above to make a great relay race around your house, each person taking their turn to complete a challenge. 

  1. Roll a ball between you. Start with a big ball and get smaller as your child improves. 

  2. Try to stop the ball when it comes to you before rolling back. 

  3. Try rolling with more accuracy-e.g. into a container. 

  4. Try stopping the ball with 2 Hands 

  5. Try stopping the ball with 1 hand.  

  1. Staying nice and close to each other, roll a balloon to your partner and ask them to hit it back. This is great for cause and effect as little effort goes a long way and the balloon moves slowly so gives more time to aim the hit back. 

  2. As you get better, stand further apart and launch the balloon into the air rather than along the floor. 

Accordion Content

  1. Use a beanbag or soft toy to practice throwing. Start with a big container or target very close to the child. 

  2. As the child gets more accurate, move the container further away.  

  3. You could use colours or other descriptions to throw into different containers (e.g. red toys into bucket, green toys onto the laundry basket OR dinosaurs through the hoop, farm animals into the saucepan.) 

  1. Set up a 10 pin bowling set with empty plastic bottles or stack a pyramid of empty tins. 

  2. Start very close to the target. 

  3. Give the child a large soft ball or soft toy to throw. 

  4. Encourage them to get more accurate by seeing how many throws it takes to knock them all over. 

  5. As your child gets more accurate, move the target further away. 

  6. You could also set up a points system by drawing a target on some cardboard and fix to the door or on the floor. You could also use bits of paper or post it notes on the wall as more difficult targets-the higher and smaller the target, the higher the points.  

  1. Give your child a bucket. This could rest on the floor in sitting or in their arms. 

  2. Throw a beanbag or other soft toy into the air and they need to move the bucket to catch it. 

  3. As they get better, make the bucket or container smaller so they have to increase their accuracy.  

  4. You could also make the ball small or harder for an extra challenge. 

  1. Start with a big soft ball and standing/ sitting very close together. Roll the ball into the child’s hands so they get used to holding it and balancing the ball between 2 hands.

  2. Ask the child to throw it back and keep practising until they are accurate to you at a very small distance. 

  3. Start moving back a little so there is a gap between you. 

  4. Start making the ball a bit smaller-soft balls and beanbags are easier to catch than fully inflated balls. If you don’t have balls at home use rolled up socks, small cushions or soft toys. 

  5. Move onto large inflated balls such as footballs and then get smaller 

  6. Progress from 2 handed catches onto 1 handed catches 

  7. Try also catching on your own-throwing into the air or against a wall. 

  8. Try moving further apart from each other one step at a time to increase the challenge. If you are feeling brave try this outside  with water balloons.

Volleyball

  1. You can set up a volleyball court with a piece of string between 2 walls in a corridor or between 2 chairs. The aim is to make the balloon/ ball touch the floor on your opponent’s side of the string.

  2. A corridor is great for this if your child has less accurate arm function as the walls keep the balloon in reach.

  3. If your child has better hand/ eye coordination, put the 2 chairs with the string further apart so they have to run around more to retrieve the balloon. 

  1. Set up a laundry basket or draw a circle on a piece of paper and stick it to the wall for a goal.

  2. Try to score a goal from different places – getting further away with each successful shot.  

  1. Set up 10 bowling pins in a triangle shape – use loo roll inners or empty plastic bottles if you don’t have skittles. Try to knock over all the skittles.

  2. See how many tries it takes to knock them down.

  3. Get further away from the skittles as your child improves. 

  1. This is a fantastic game and involves playing in teams and getting your team’s ball nearest to a target ball.

  2. It can be played with as few as 2 people. If you don’t have balls, use rolled up socks.

  3. See our video for details on the rules for this very inclusive game you can play anywhere;

  1. Dribble a balloon around the house using a broom stick.

  2. You could set up an obstacle course with chairs and a goal at the end for a single child game.

  3. You could adapt it by keeping the balloon/ ball up in the air while they make their way around the house towards the goal. 

  1. Make an obstacle course which your child needs to dribble around – depending on their skills, they could go around objects or furniture or even try to shoot between 2 chairs as goals. 

  1. Try walking through the house with a balloon between your legs. Stepping over or onto objects/ cushions while you do this will make it more challenging. 

  2. Try getting from 1 end of your home to another keeping the balloon in the air 

  3. Try blowing the balloon from 1 end of the room to the other.

Here are a selection of suitable Our Home videos for Leopards

Obstacle Course

This obstacle course is suitable for those children who can crawl along the floor.

Laser Quest

This video is suitable for mobile children. You can create the laser string quest anywhere in your home and make it as big or small or as easy as you like!

Scavenger Hunt

The scavenger hunt is really simple and easy to set up. It can be adapted to suit any disability and household.

Silly Socks and a bit of Boccia

We have created some fun easy to set up games. All you need are some socks!

Stealthy Ways for Handwashing

This video contains tips on how to ‘stealth handwash’ whilst still having fun with various kitchen or household props. 

More fun resources for disabled children who are mobile with learning difficulties

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