Nine active play ideas for children with limited mobility

August 16, 2018 Published by

It’s important for parents to encourage a balanced play diet, as different types of play have different benefits for your child.

Children who have limited mobility, such as those with Cerebral Palsy, may not get enough opportunities to play actively – but they need exercise as much as any other child to keep them fit and healthy. 

To get you started I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite active play ideas for children with limited mobility. Friends and siblings can, of course, join in too!


The Play Diet is a practical approach that parents can use to help guide the activities that they encourage their children to do.


1. A trip to the park

Child playing on swing


Some playgrounds with specialist equipment for children who need it, so they offer a good opportunity for children to play together. Playgrounds are brilliant for thrill-seeking children to enjoy fun risks, like going as high as possible on a swing.

If your local playground doesn’t have this equipment, make the most of the open space. We recently covered ‘How to plan a play date with children with a disability’ and spoke to a mum whose daughter has Cerebral Palsy, who has set up obstacle courses at the park using football cones and played Velcro Catch Ball by attaching a paddle to her daughter’s wheelchair.



2. Music


Activities that involve music and singing can be adapted for children with varying mobility.  Keep the Beat is a simple activity one child starts to keep a beat by tapping on a specific part of his or her body. Other children in the group then follow the action without words or discussion.  The ‘leader’ points to another child and has that child start keeping the beat on a different part of the body. 


3. Musical ball

Hot potato, pass the parcel, musical chairs – you’re probably familiar with this one in some form! In this version, children pass a ball around the circle. When the music is stopped, the child holding the ball either gets a point or is out of the game (you decide!).



4. Seated obstacle race


 I found this activity on the Change 4 Life Get Going – Active Ideas for Disabled Kids list. The children are given a straw, a few small dried peas or another lightweight object, a cup of water and a snack. The race involves using the straw to blow the small object off the table or tray, eating the snack and then using the straw to drink the water.



5. Tennis ball race


In this activity, children start by sitting in a circle. The first child receives the tennis ball and is prompted to pass it to the next child in the circle. After the second or third child receives the first ball, a second ball, of a different colour, is introduced. The object is to pass the second ball faster than the first so that one child ends up with both balls.



6. Bocce ball


Try out a game from the Special Olympics! Bocce involves rolling game balls near a target ball, called a jack. The person who gets their game balls closest to the jack wins.


7. Bowling

Whether it entails a trip to the local bowling alley (perfect for a rainy day) or a game of boules in the garden or on the beach, bowling is a game that is fun for all! 



8. Bean bag toss

All you’ll need for this one is some containers and beanbags. Label each container with a score – for example, smaller containers and those further away from the launching spot would have a higher point allowance. Get your child to throw the bean bags into the containers then add up their scores. They can play on their own and try to beat their last score, or play against friends and siblings for a bit of competition!



9. Scavenger hunt 



Find an area where the terrain is accessible for all the children taking part, such as a park or town. Give them a list of objects to find or photograph, then have them search the area alone or in pairs/teams.




Active play has enormous benefits for children. As well as improving health and wellbeing through exercise, active play builds confidence by letting children push their skills to the limit. 



For even more ideas you might want to take a look at the Scope website.



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This post was written by Claire Gillies

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