Fun Core Exercises For Kids!

These core exercises for kids may help develop your child's core strength and stability.

Having good core strength can help your child sit well at a desk, and helps provide a stable base for gross and fine motor tasks.

As an occupational therapist and homeschooling mom, I have used these exercises in the schools where I have worked, as well as with my own children, so they are easy to do, and designed to be done by kids who may struggle with coordination and strength.

Not all children will become athletes, but all children do need some basic core stability in order to be functional in daily school and home tasks.

If you are at all concerned about your child's development, please get a professional opinion. The core exercises for kids on this page are NOT a substitute for an occupational therapy evaluation and treatment.

Caution: Your child should only take part in these activities if he/she is medically and physically able to do so. Please get a professional opinion if you are at all uncertain. You should only demonstrate these activities if you are medically and physically able to do so. You do so at your own risk.

Helpful Tip For Activating Core Muscles

Kids sometimes struggle to know how to "activate" their core for stability during a gross motor activity. You can usually tell that their core muscles are not activating when they keep losing their balance, their tummy is sticking out and/or they are a bit slouched.

To help my kids "find" the right muscles to activate, I usually say something like this: "You know how you make your tummy hard when you think you are going to get punched in the tummy - those are the muscles that need to be working while you climb the tree/keep your balance/play this game".

I call this the "tummy punch trick"! Once they have "discovered" these muscles, keep reminding them of this trick during the exercise/activity!

We want our kids to protect their backs through adolescence and adulthood, so you can remind them of this trick (and use it yourself) whenever you need to move furniture or carry heavy items etc.

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Snake Curls

This is an adaptation of a tummy curl and works really well if you get your child to hold for a few seconds and repeat it a few times per session. I like to play a musical recorder like a snake charmer and have the kids curl up when I play a tune!

Starting position:
- Knees bent, feet flat on the ground.
- Put a beanbag between the knees to keep them together.
- Hands are resting on thighs.

Have your child "curl up" by raising the head, sliding the hands up to the knees and maybe even hissing at you (holding the position) until you give the signal to go back down slowly.

kids tummy curls core exercises

Have kids take turns being the snake charmer!

Emphasize SLOW movements, rather than fast jerky ones.

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Tightrope Walker

child balancing with beanbag on headWalking along a rope with a beanbag on the head
Touching an object while keeping the beanbag on
Walking heel to toe along a rope

Have your child walk along a rope line (or a drawn line) while balancing the beanbag on his/her head.

Make it fun by saying there may be alligators in the water so don't step off the rope!

  • Make it harder by asking your child to stop, and bend over to touch the bottle midpath without letting the beanbag drop.
  • Walking heel-to-toe is harder and requires more core stability. Try this once your child can walk normally along a length of rope without falling off.

Very Important: Encourage your child to WALK SLOWLY! This will require more core muscle control from your child.

Remind them of the "tummy punch trick" if they keep losing their balance!

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Making Bridges

Have your child keep knees and feet together while lifting the buttocks off the ground. This exercise strengthens the muscles around the hips and back, which are all part of the core.

Ask your child to hold the bridge position for a few seconds. Increase the time, or the number of repetitions, as your child improves.

kids core bridging exercise

Make it fun by driving toy vehicles under the "bridge" as this child is doing!

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Crab Walk

Ask your child to get into this position.

Crabs actually walk sideways, but this is really tricky for kids, so start by asking your child to walk backwards for a short distance, keeping the back and tummy straight and holding his/her bottom off the ground!

crab walk core exercise for kidsYour child should keep his/her bottom off the ground

Discourage your child from letting the back slump down like this.

You could try putting a beanbag or soft toy on your child's tummy and they have to not let it fall off!

Don't let your child slump like this

As this activity is quite demanding, set a short distance (2-3 metres) for your child’s first attempt, and include it as a small part of an obstacle course or follow-my-leader game. As your child’s endurance increases, you can increase the distance.

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Leg Lifts

You get lots of different kinds of leg lifts, but this is a handy core exercise for kids in the classroom (although these pics were taken outside!).

It helps for adults to demonstrate this exercise so the child gets a better idea of the pace - as always - SLOWER is best!

Have your child stand sideways behind the chair so the left hand is resting lightly on the back of the chair.

Slowly lift the left leg, keeping the knee bent until the hip is bent 90 degrees as shown.

leg lifts core exercise for kids

Now comes the tricky part!

Hold it, and slowly lower the leg ALMOST to the ground, don’t touch the ground!

Now raise it again. Repeat once or twice.

Don't forget to turn around so the other hand can rest on the chair and do the exercises with the other leg.

Just do a few repetitions with each leg at the beginning and increase repetitions as your child’s endurance increases.

Remind them of the "tummy punch trick" if they keep losing their balance!

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Core Exercises For Kids At The Park

Climbing up trees and clambering over jungle gyms are "sneaky" core exercises for kids who dislike doing specific exercises like the ones suggested on this page.

Climbing, pulling and clambering can help your child work on core strength and stability. Your child will benefit immensely from hours spent at the park!

Any activity that requires your child to lift both feet together (eg to swing both legs over a bar, or lift them both to wrap around a branch) will use the core muscles.

Encourage your child to pull up on knotted ropes or balance on low beams. If at first they don’t succeed, encourage them to keep trying at least once every time they go to the park – they will soon surprise themselves!

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Core Exercises Resource E-Book

Does your child need to work on core strength but you have no idea where to start?

Are you looking for fun core strengthening exercises that your child will actually enjoy?

My Core Exercises for Kids download will give you more than 20 pages of photographed exercises and activity ideas, as well as helpful information and an exercise planner.

View my Core Exercises download now!

e-book of core exercises for kids

I hope you found these exercises to be helpful! Don't forget to check out my e-book (above) if you want LOTS of photographed exercises in an accessible download!

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