Tuesday, March 12, 2024

12 Animal Walks for Kids Who Crave Sensory Input

This website uses affiliate links. As an affiliate and Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which means I make a small commission when you use these links, at no additional cost to you.

Do I have hyperlexia? Is my child hyperlexic? Take the free online hyperlexia quiz today!

Need ideas to get the kids moving? Try these sensory animal walks for kids. They get kids moving and burning off that excess energy!

Last week we received our first official dump of snow and the cold arctic air came with it. Just like that, we're shoveling snow and bundling up to brave the -30 C wind chills.

Wind chills like that though mean that we can't always spend a lot of time playing outdoors. So it doesn't take long for the kids to get a bit squirrely with our long cold winters.

Thankfully, we can burn off excess energy indoors with these 12 fun animal walks for kids. They're also a great way to provide proprioceptive and vestibular sensory input to my sensory seeking kids.

Simple and fun animal walks for kids that provide lots of sensory input

A version of this post originally appeared on the CBC Parents website.

Why Sensory Animal Walks?

You might be wondering: why do animal walks in the first place?

Well, these silly walks make exercise fun for kids, encouraging them to get creative and engage in some imaginative play, all while burning off excess energy. They're great for rainy or cold winter days or for a quick body break at home or at school.

They are also highly regulating and provide calming sensory input. Specifically, proprioceptive and vestibular sensory input through heavy work (more on that here). In other words, these animal walks help kids receive calming deep pressure to their joints and limbs, help strengthen their sense of balance, and develop body awareness, among many other things.

Animal walks also help develop a child's core strength and muscles.

As an added benefit, animal walks require no additional materials. You simply need some open space, you body, and a little imagination.

Benefits of doing animal walks with your kids

Animal Walks for Kids That Will Get the Kids Moving!

You probably remember doing lots of these animal walks yourself when you were a child, but, in case you need some further inspiration, here are 12 animal walks for kids. They'll be moving and giggling in no time!

1. Frog Hop

The frog hop is a classic animal walk that most kids know how to replicate. Simply square like a frog and hop. Or turn it into a game of leap frog if you have more than one child.

Child doing a frog hop

2. Seal Slide

Personally, I find the seal slide super challenging as an adult so it's definitely a great challenge for the kids too. To do the seal slide, simply lay on your tummy, push your hands up until your arms are straight, and move across the floor while dragging your legs behind you.

3. Penguin Waddle

Who doesn't love penguins? They're so adorable when they walk. Your kids will love pretending to be a penguin too. To do this animal walk, simply keep your arms tight against the side of your body then gently waddle side to side as you walk.

For an added challenge or twist, try and encourage your kids to walk with a penguin egg on their feet. Place a small ball or stuffed animal on top of their feet and see if your kids can waddle across the room without dropping their egg.

4. Snake Slither

Lay on your tummy and wiggle along the floor like a slithering snake. This exercise requires a lot of energy and strength to slither across the floor. It's also hilarious to watch!

5. Bear Walk

Here's a classic animal walk that you might remember from your childhood. Simply walk on all fours like a bear, keeping your arms and legs fairly straight as you walk.

6. Crab Walk

Another childhood classic! This one involves leaning backwards on all fours and walking around backwards.

Child doing a crab walk

7. Kangaroo Jump

Jumping is a great way to burn off loads of energy. To do the kangaroo jump, keep your  legs together, bend the knees a bit, and jump around as high as you can. You could also encourage your kids to hold a stuffed animal in front of them as if they have a kangaroo pouch of their own.

Child hopping like a kangaroo

8. Duck Waddle

Your kids will love pretending to be a duck with this simple duck waddle. To do this exercise, squat, tuck your hands into your armpits to make duck wings, and flag your arms as you walk.

9. Donkey Kicks

Donkey kicks are ideal for kids who are extra energetic. Start by getting on all fours. Then simply kick your legs out and up.

For a fun challenge and twist, stack some pillows or cardboard boxes and use your donkey kicks to knock them over.

10. Inchworm Crawl

Move inch by inch with this silly animal walk. To do it, keep your legs straight, bend down, and place your hands on the ground right in front of your feet. Next, walk your hands out in front of you until you get into a pushup-like position. Then walk your feet up to meet your hands all while keeping your arms and legs as straight as possible.

11. Elephant Walk

This walk is all about swinging your long elephant trunk. To form your trunk, put your arms together in front of your body. Then swing your homemade trunk from side to side as you walk. Don't forget to stomp your feet like big elephants as you walk around!

12. One-Legged Flamingo Hops

This animal walk is great for working on balance because it's all about one-legged hops! To do flamingo hops, stand on one leg, hop, and then land one-legged on the opposite leg.

Sensory animal walks exercises to try with your kids

Some Final Notes & Ideas on Doing Animal Walks

Feel free to get creative and let the kids invent their own animal walks too. Maybe they're want to be dinosaurs or horses or sea creatures next. The possibilities are endless!

You could also try doing competitive animal walks. For example, have a crab walk race and see who can cross the finish line first.

Kids doing animal walk races

Need visuals? Try using this free Google Slides deck of animal walks in teletherapy, at home, or in your classroom.

I hope your kids have fun doing these animal walk exercises!

Simple and fun animal walks for kids that provide lots of sensory input