As parents, we buy copious amounts of toys for our children, and they often get over them very quickly. With all the new technology we have today, a hula hoop may not necessarily seem all that engaging, but something as simple as this can go a long way in creating enjoyable games, as well as gross/fine motor challenges for you kids.
It is recommended that children and adolescents ages 6 and older get at least an hour a day of moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. Games with hula hoops can be a fun way to achieve this by burning calories, strengthening muscles, and improving coordination/balance.
Challenge your child to try to spin the hula hoop around his/her arm, waist, or chest. This will help work on coordination, core activation, and balance!
Set the hula hoops up as targets for throwing practice, using bean bags or a ball. This will work on hand-eye coordination, ball skills, target practice, etc.
Try jumping from one hoop to another (forward, backwards, sideways) or even making a hopscotch pattern for a series of forward jumps and hops. Now your child is working on jumping skills (double limb and single limb), which can transfer to increased coordination and strength, as well as overall stability in dynamic situations.
To help with obstacle navigation, pelvic/core stability, and direction changes, hold the hula hoops at various levels and have your child step in and out or duck under and step over, without touching the sides of the hoop.
Your child can practice fun animal walks within each hoop. Set up the hoops a couple of feet apart and have your child bear crawl, crab walk, duck walk, or even frog jump to each one.
To enhance throwing skills, depth perception, and hand-eye coordination, set up a hula hoop toss. Place cones on the ground and give each child a small/medium sized hoop. Encourage the children to toss the hoop around the cones. As children perfect the skill, move them farther away from the cones.
Bounce a ball to a friend using the hoop as the target for the bounce, move the hoops further away or in various positions like off to the sides to challenge your child with positioning of the ball.
If you want to be a bit more creative or have a very specific target goal at hand, make sure to follow up with your local therapist for help with progressing these hula hoop games to best challenge your child to their greatest potential!
Gabriella Troggio is a pediatric physical therapist at NAPA Center. She found her love for pediatrics before she even began undergrad, when she would take the kiddo she nannied to his therapy session. She loves working out, exploring the world, and eating all the good gluten free food.