Warm Up, Cool Down


It is important for children (and adults!) to warm up their muscles and get the blood flowing before engaging in more vigorous/heart pumping activities. It is also important to allow the body to slow down instead of abruptly stopping an activity. Below are some ideas to help children ease into and out of the physical games.

Warm Ups:

  • Walk around the gym or field, or up and down corridors if using modified space for activity. Begin at a slow pace, then increase the speed of each lap, but do not run.
  • Play a short movement game such as "Red Light, Green Light" (children move across room when you say, "Green Light", and stop when you call out, "Red Light!" Alter movement instructions with each start, e.g.: tip toe, hop or gallop.)
  • Play "Simon Says" and incorporate stretching moves (such as "reach to the sky" or "touch your toes") along with warming moves (such as "march in place" or "hop on one foot")
  • Perform simple stretches sitting on the floor. Remind children not to bounce or pull. For younger children, offer visual cues like, "reach forward and hug the beach ball", or "paint a rainbow with your right hand...now paint one with your left".

Cool Downs:

  • Race across the gym or field with progressively slower movements: run then gallop then skip then walk then tip toe, etc.
  • Repeat simple stretching activities.
  • Introduce deep breathing or simple yoga moves as a way to cool down and relax (remind children that these can be used any time!).
    • Slowly (to the count of five) breathe in while bringing your hands together and rising over the head. Then slowly breathe out with a loud "whoosh" while bringing your arms down to the side.
    • "Cat" pose: create a table, supporting the body with the hands and knees. Breathe in and arch back so that the belly moves to the floor and the shoulders move back to look up. Breathe out to reverse the curve of the back like a cat stretching its back.