A warm-up is a short activity or exercise undertaken before a more intensive training or activity. A warm-up prepares the body for movement, including exercise, sport, dance, and stretching.
Why are warm-ups essential for kids?
The main benefits of warm-ups for kids are improved performance and reduced risk of injury. Warming up is essential before any vigorous activity, including sports, exercise, dance, and games. It’s also crucial before stretching and activities such as yoga or gymnastics. So a thorough warm-up should be an integral part of every PE lesson.
Warm-ups are designed to prepare the body for movement. An introduction allows the body to gradually increase its heart rate, breathing, and body temperature, which increases blood flow to the muscles. Preparing the body in this way reduces muscle soreness and the risk of injury. Warm-ups also help prepare the heart and cardiovascular system for increased exercise demands.
The best warm-ups for kids are fun and engaging. You can always use a slower, less intense version of the sport or activity children are about to do. For example, kids can warm up for a swimming session by doing slower lengths in the pool. A warm-up for running might include jogging or a group game.
Ten fun warm-ups for kids
Look at these engaging warm-ups for kids that can be used in a PE lesson, at home, or in the park. Here you can find a selection of 10 warm-ups, but we have created many more! You can find these by clicking on the images and links below.
- Video game
Have children walk around the space freely and follow the instructions that you call out:
- Fast-forward means run
- Rewind means moving backward
- Pause means stop
- Record means children have to pull a silly face
- Slow-motion means walking at half speed
- Shuttle run
Children run slowly in a single file line. Whoever is at the back of the line has to run to the front and become the leader.
- A 5-Minute Move video with Joe Wicks
- Traffic lights
Kids follow the instructions that you call out:
- Red = stop
- Yellow = jog on the spot
- Green = jogging
- 1st gear = walk
- 2nd gear = jog
- 3rd gear = sprint
- Jump the river
Place two skipping ropes to mark out the banks of the river. Lay out the ropes, so they are closer together at one end and further away from each other at the other end. Children must jump across the river, starting at the narrow end and progressing towards the wider end.
- Collect the treasure
Split children into groups. Pile balls or similar objects into the middle of the hall – this is the treasure. Each team sends one child at a time to bring back some treasure. The team with the most treasure wins when all the objects are gone.
- Clap and catch
For this exciting warm-up, you’ll need a ball. Have kids stand in a circle. Throw a ball around the circle randomly. Everyone has to clap before they catch the ball. If someone doesn’t clap or catch the ball, they’re out.
Kids jump around the space in any direction. When they hear the word ‘Popcorn!’ followed by a number, they must quickly get into groups of that number.
- Caveman dash
Create an area in your hall that will be the cave. All the children have to do cave people dance actions and movements to music. When the music stops, they all have to run to the shelter. The last one that makes it to the cave is out.
- Making shapes
Children should jog around the space at a steady speed. Then you can call out various shapes. When kids hear the shape, they have to jog around the space in that shape. For example, they must jog around on a triangular path if’ triangle’ is called out. At the same time, children must be careful not to bump into each other.
Seven simple dance warm-ups for children
No matter what kind of dance your child is performing or practicing, you must ensure they complete a full dance warm-up and get their bodies ready to move! So before your dance lessons, let’s look at some dance warm-up moves you can achieve with children.
- Jumping jacks
They’re simple and effective at getting children’s heart rates and muscles ready for dancing. See how many of your children can perform in 30 seconds, let them have a rest, then go again!
- Leg swings
It is an isolation exercise, which means you are only working one part of your body at a time. Including leg swings in your dance warm-up helps children increase their flexibility and range of motion.
To perform this movement, stand with one leg facing forward. Then, lift the other leg and bend it just a little as you swing it toward the front and the back of the room. Children must hold onto a chair or a wall to keep their balance.
Lunges are another exercise that requires a good balance. This move uses lots of the muscles in the lower body and can be held for different lengths of time to differentiate for children easily.
Children should stand upright with their feet shoulder-width apart to do a lunge stretch. Then, they can slide one foot behind them so that their front knee is bent (directly above your front foot) and their back leg is as straight as possible.
- Heel raises
Heel raises combine a hamstring stretch and calf stretch, making dancers more limber. To do a heel raise, children should stand with their feet together, facing forward, then lift their heels off the ground, so they’re standing on their toes! Next, they should lower themselves to the starting position in a controlled way.
- Hip swings
Many dances require lots of hip action! To warm up hip joints, ask children to stand upright with their feet shoulder-width apart. They should then alternate moving their hips from left to right.
- Neck turns
If children don’t complete a dance warm-up, they’re in danger of pulling muscles. One set of muscles that is very easy to pull but often forgotten in an introduction is the muscles in your neck. Children should perform isolation exercises for the neck by alternating looking left, right, up, then down in a slow and controlled way.
- Shoulder rolls
Shoulder rolls help lower the risk of neck and back injuries to children during dance lessons. This warm-up exercise will stretch the tendons and muscles in the shoulder area. Children should stand upright with their heads facing forward. Then, they should lift their shoulders toward the ceiling and lower them again. It would help if you allowed them to perform this at least ten times.