As I child, I loved playing games. Whether it was hide and seek or freeze tag, I loved games that got me moving. As a teacher of family yoga classes, I find games a crucial part of the class. Not only are they helpful in teaching different yoga poses, but they support children's learning in a variety of ways.
Here are some fun yoga games for kids that not only teach children yoga, but also help support their learning and development.
1. Freeze Dance Yoga Style
Almost every child loves freeze dance. It's the game where children get to let loose, shake, twist, turn ,and dance to their favorite tunes and then without any notice, they have to stop their body or freeze when the music stops. There is something about anxiously waiting for the music to stop that brings excitement and laughter to children.
How to play: You can do freeze dance yoga-style. Simply play a favorite song and have the children dance around. When the music stops, shout out the name of a yoga pose and the students will then have to freeze in that pose. This also tests their knowledge of poses.
Be mindful that if you do a pose that is one-sided, you must have them repeat the pose on the other side. It's fun to see which moves faster, their minds or their bodies, as they think and try to jump into the pose.
What they learn: The great part about freeze dance yoga-style is that it supports self-regulation and the ability to regulate and control their bodies. And obviously, it's also fun!
2. Yoga Race
Don't worry, this game doesn't involve letting the kids run around the room. This is one race that doesn't involve running—instead, the students will walk.
How to play: The teacher will start by standing at one end of the room and the students will stand on the opposite end. When the teacher turns their back, the students have to walk toward the teacher. When the teacher turns around, the teacher will shout out a pose and the students will have to stop where they are and quickly get into that pose. The person that reaches the teacher first, gets to lead the game.
What they learn: This game supports children in their self-control. It teaches them to be able to resist the urge to run and to be able to stop at a moment’s notice. It relies on the visual cue of the teacher in turning around and it teaches the kids to follow the instructions they're told.
3. Yoga Challenge
This can be done in many different ways. It's good to have a group that is familiar with a variety of yoga poses, or if not, first give a brief demonstration of a couple yoga poses to get them familiarized with different postures.
How to play: You don’t just say the name of a pose and have the students get into it. You can give them challenges that allow them to come up with a variety of poses.
For example, you can say: "I challenge you to demonstrate a pose that requires you to stay balanced," or "I challenge you to think of a pose where both hands are on the ground." As you add more challenges, you can watch their creativity expand. After each challenge, you can try to sequence the poses together.
What they learn: This game gets students to use their memory to recall certain poses and to practice motor control. It creates better mind and body connections, as they become more thoughtful about their poses.
4. Silly Train
This one strikes the perfect balance of letting the kids be their fun, silly selves while still teaching them how to follow instructions.
How to play: Have all of the students line up behind the teacher in one straight line. Make sure that there is about an inch or two of space between the students. The teacher, or whoever is leading the train, will pick a pose that everyone will eventually do. When the leader is ready to start, they will lead the train around the room.
Passengers or people following will dance or move as silly as they can, while staying in line or staying on the train. However, once the leader turns around, everyone must instantly go into the previously mentioned pose. You can take turns by changing train leaders once they do one lap around the room. Tip: Have some music playing in the background for added fun.
What they learn: This game supports children with their spatial orientation and helps their sense of direction and organization.
I hope you enjoyed these games. Try them out and let me know how they go!
Image credit: Nicole Wise