Activities for under-5s

Movement is important from birth. Help your infant or toddler to be active, and they will learn and develop quickly.

Sensory exploration, play and movement are how your child makes sense of the world. Help them out by giving them lots of opportunities to play and move.

Play doesn’t just keep children active – it helps them develop socially, emotionally and cognitively.

As children learn to control their bodies, climbing, running and jumping become important and exciting activities. Encourage your kids to be active, and join in with their play – you can both have lots of fun!

Do it together

A mother playing with her toddler in the pool. You and your children can have lots of fun staying active together. It’s a great way to get some quality time with the whānau.

Here are some ideas for low-cost physical activities to do with your children.

  • Play – throw and catch balls, spin hula hoops.
  • Put on some music and dance.
  • Go to the local swimming pool.
  • Walk with them to preschool or kindy.

Our Under 5s section has more ideas on having fun together.

Basic movement skills for 0–5 year olds

Photo of a toddler climbing on a playground. This list is taken from Sport New Zealand’s Developing fundamental movement skills.


  • Walking and running
  • Jumping and leaping
  • Galloping and hopping


  • Balancing
  • Stretching and bending
  • Twisting and turning
  • Waiata movements
  • Haka
  • Rolling


  • Throwing and catching
  • Poi, tira and titi torea
  • Kicking and dribbling
  • Bouncing a ball

Movement and body awareness:

  • Knowing their own body
  • Capability of movement

Helping young children be more active

Being active will help your child achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Being active has many other health benefits and can be fun for the whole family.

  • Walk, run and play with your child. By being physically active yourself you are setting a good example.
  • If your child is not usually active start with something fun like a trip to the local playground. Walking there adds extra steps into the day.
  • Instead of short car trips, try walking, biking or scooting with your child. Start by doing this once a week and add more trips over time.
  • Encourage your child to play outside as much as possible.
  • Try to do something fun and active as a family each week. Some ideas are a walk along the beach, roll down a grass bank, play tag, fly a kite at the park, or take a trip to the local swimming pool.
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends watching TV or in front of a screen to less than 1 hour a day.

For more low or no-cost family activity ideas visit the Healthy Kids website or our Under 5s section.

Related websites

Sport New Zealand

Find out more from the Ministry

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