Resources for Physical Activity

Learn creative ways to get children moving several times a day with these physical activity resources.

Administrative Resources

Active Early: A Wisconsin guide for improving childhood physical activity. Includes information on physical activity recommendations, child development, assessments, daily routines, environmental considerations, resources and business practices.

Best Practices for Physical Activity: Nemours Health and Prevention Services (NHPS) created these physical activity guidelines to help promote and support quality physical activity for children. The guide also includes sample child care and early education program policies.

Freedom of Movement Checklist: The Freedom of Movement Checklist was developed by the Capital District of Child Care Council in Albany, New York. This tool was created for infant toddler caregivers, coaches, trainers, administrators, and families and is used to assess how programming supports each child’s freedom of movement throughout the day.

On the Move: Read about how powerful movement is in a child’s first three years. Through movement, children develop good thinking and communication skills as they explore and interact with their world. Movement also builds self-confidence. Children feel competent, physically and emotionally, when they use their bodies to communicate and solve problems.

Physical Activity Kit for Young Children (PAK) — Staying on the Active Path in Native Communities
(PDF): This vast resource for child care providers and parents contains culturally appropriate physical activities and movements for babies, toddlers and preschool children in Native American communities.

Preventing Childhood Obesity: A letter to families about their role in keeping kids healthy and actions they can take to prevent childhood obesity.

Articles and Research

Adapting the Child Care Environment for Children with Special Needs: When working with special needs children, it is important to focus on each child’s strength as you work to make adjustments. Many modifications can be simple ones. This article covers making adaptations, general accommodations, and additional resources for specific disabilities.

Does objectively measured physical activity modify the association between early weight gain and fat mass in young adulthood? Evidence suggests that weight gain in early life is associated with increased obesity later in life. This study examines whether physical activity at age 30 modifies associations between weight gain in childhood with fat mass index measured at age 30.

Early Childhood Sedentary Behavior Associated with Worse Working Memory: Research suggests that promoting physical activity in early life may increase the cognitive potential of children. Sedentary behavior may be related to later, decreased working memory.

Ideas for Child Care Providers to Help Children with Physical Disabilities: This article describes how child care and early education providers can support children who have physical disabilities, such as: helping them be more independent, making it easy to move around in play areas, adapting activities, and teaching children how to help another child with a physical disability.

The Importance of Health Behaviors in Childhood for the Development of Internalizing Disorders During Adolescence: Approximately half of all cases of poor mental health have an onset before the age of 14 years. This study examines the importance of diet quality, physical activity and sedentary behaviors in childhood for internalizing disorder throughout adolescence.

Interventions to Reduce Sedentary Behavior in 0–5-Year-Olds: Interventions to reduce sedentary behavior in early childhood show significant results, suggesting that early childhood may be an opportune time to intervene.

Keeping Children Active Indoors: Children need to have active times every day to use up energy, learn new things and be healthy. Luckily, active play can happen indoors as well as outdoors. Try the indoor activities in this article to get your kids to use large muscles and burn energy.

Physical Activity–Family-Based Interventions: Family-based interventions combine activities to build family support with health education to increase physical activity among children. Read this review from the Community Preventive Services Task Force to find out how a family-based intervention would work in your program.

Temperament is Associated with Free Play in Young Children: Outdoor free play is important for preschoolers’ physical activity, health and development. This study examines whether there is an association between temperament and outdoor play in young children. Consideration of temperament could enhance strategies to increase outdoor play in young children.

Curricula and Lesson Plans

Activities for Kids: Daily physical activity helps children with coordination, concentration, sleeping, maintaining a healthy weight, and fighting off germs and illness. Use these tips from the American Heart Association to get kids to move more and make smart nutrition choices.

Developmentally-Appropriate Physical Activity Ideas: Infants should be encouraged to move as much as possible. Toddlers use walking to energetically explore the world around them. Preschoolers are mastering skills such as running, jumping and throwing. This resource from the West Virginia Department of Education provides ideas to support movement in the child care environment.

PE Central — Physical Education Lesson Plans: PE Central is a vast resource for not only PE teachers but any educator seeking to incorporate more movement in his or her classroom. Includes a database of lesson plans, best practices, professional development, recommended equipment, student assessments, a video library, information on grants and much more.

SPARK Instructional Units for Physical Activity: SPARK is dedicated to creating, implementing, and evaluating research-based programs that promote lifelong wellness. Each SPARK program fosters environmental and behavioral change by providing a coordinated package of highly active curriculum, training and support, and content-matched equipment.

First Aid and Safety

First Aid: Dehydration: Kids can become dehydrated when their bodies lose large amounts of fluids. In this article from Nemours’ KidsHealth, learn the signs and symptoms of dehydration, what to do in case of dehydration, when to seek emergency medical care, and how to prevent it.

First Aid: Heat Illness: In hot weather, a child’s internal temperature can rise and cause heat exhaustion, which can progress to heatstroke if not treated quickly. In this article from Nemours’ KidsHealth, learn the signs and symptoms of heat illness, and what to do in case of heat illness.

Playground Safety: Following these safety guidelines from Nemours’ KidsHealth can make playgrounds entertaining and safe for your kids. Topics include: adult supervision; playground design, spacing and surfaces; maintenance and inspection; teaching kids about playground safety; safe equipment guidelines for swings, seesaws, slides and climbing equipment.

Training and Webinars

Creating Active ClassroomsThese materials were created to support teachers of 2-5 year olds in early care and education (ECE) centers to increase the amount of physical activity in their classrooms. They can also be used by those who provide training and technical assistance to ECE teachers. The resources are designed to build short, easy-to-use activities into your daily child care routine. The resources include: 1) Training Workshop Slides, 2) Lesson Plans, and 3) Activity Cards. The training workshop slides can be used separately from or together with the lesson plans and activity cards.

» Creating Active Classrooms Training Workshop Slides

» Guide to Lessons and Activity Cards


Keeping All Of Us Healthy: Why We Value Activity and Nutrition in Early Care and Education: Learn why healthy eating and physical activity are important in ECE programs and some of the factors that impact childhood obesity. Download this set of slides (PDF) to use as a handout or additional training materials.


One Step at a Time: Bright Futures Obesity Prevention Training for Child Care Providers: This training includes three modules: Promoting Physical Activity for Young Children, Promoting Physical Activity in Child Care Programs, and Working with Parents.