Tagged in: Move Live Learn Blog, Physical and Health Education, Uncategorized

Holiday Gift Guide to Keep Loved Ones Active

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hannukah or Kwanzaa, the Holiday season is officially upon us. A time to be grateful and a time of giving. Apparently it's also a time to share posts that have been brewing the past two years when I've been too slammed with work to blog. 

This post was inspired by my friend Shawna who asked me for some active Christmas ideas for her two adorable children. She also encouraged me to blog some ideas to help others. I tend to take her advice as she's quite brilliant. Please note: this post was written while I wore both my PE teacher hat and my mum hat. I share this list, which is presented in no particular order, considering multi ages and also with the understanding that many parents would prefer to invest in things that can be used for several years - at least. And, while I am all about taking kids outside whenever possible, ideas presented will help you get kids moving both indoors and outdoors.

Feel free to share on your school's PE website or simply with someone who wants to keep the little ones they love moving.


balancebikeBalance Bikes - Balance bikes are bikes with no pedals. Made popular in European countries, balance bikes are preferred as children can transition from them to typical two-wheelers and avoid training wheels. I can tell you, they work. I won't recommend a specific brand, but be sure to invest in balance bike that allows you to adjust the seat and handlebar height to optimize the time your child can use it. 


Children's Specific Bikes - Again, this concept originated in Europe but some North American companies are joining in on the fun. Yay! These bikes look like any other brand name bike but are made with lighter materials rather than those used to make adult bikes. Now, your sidekicks can have age-appropriate equipment! They will soon search for hills rather than whine when they happen upon them. Eventually. I know these bikes aren't cheap, so be creative in ways to pass them on or sell them when your child grows out of them. Check out Pello or Woom brands for starters. I really appreciate how, thanks to these bikes, my older girls can now bike with us while we run - no matter the route we choose. 

Juggling Scarves / Balls / Yarn Balls / Bean Bags - A bin with these goodies will never disappoint. I store them together and let the kids choose how to use them. Currently, my oldest is trying to master juggling while the middle one likes to see how many times she can clap when a scarf is in the air. I love to watch them come up with ways to challenge themselves.

Rocket Launchers - Many physical education teachers have sworn by these for years but if you haven't heard of them, check them out. There are different versions but it shouldn't matter which one you choose. Kids can use bean bags or yarn balls or other objects and challenge themselves or design games with siblings and friends. It's a great way for kids to work on their hand-eye coordination and catching skills and I appreciate how they can use them independently or with others. FYI: We stick to yarn balls when it's used indoors. 

Hopscotch Mat - I purchased one for less than $15 a few years ago when I thought it would help my kids be more interested in hopping on one foot. It plays a dual role as it covers up a large stain on our toy room carpet so that's a plus. This rug's use varies depending on the age of your child. We only recently began playing proper Hopscotch with bean bags as they weren't interested until now, but they have made up many balance and hopping games over the years. This would also be a great addition to the bedroom hallway in a home.

Balance Beam - Lucky for us, my nieces passed down a gymnastics balance beam that is only a few inches off the ground.  Like the hopscotch rug, I leave the beam out at all times. I love seeing the kids challenge themselves and each other. I have watched them enjoy the beam from when they were first proud to simply walk it without falling, to now where the oldest is trying to land a cartwheel on it. The two oldest children seek major high fives when they are successful in running full steam across the beam.

Light Rackets - My girls love to air dribble. While they don't use badminton rackets for badminton games, they like to use them independently and see if they beat a previous best score. Simple, inexpensive, effective = win.

Roller blades - While the name explains itself I want to share that I bought the ones that can be adjusted four - yes, four! - sizes. They are surprising great quality considering they grow four sizes. Clearly a great investment!

Pogo Stick - Clearly an outdoor toy, but my oldest love this - now that she's heavy enough to operate the one she received for Christmas last year. I recently saw a picture of my nephew in Canada shooting pucks while on a pogo stick. He's 9 and it cracked me up. I tell you this to show there are so many ways kids will challenge themselves if we provide them the equipment and freedom to think.

Diggin Wobble Deck - This deck can be found at Amazon and a staple for a toy room floor. Your kids will love the options this balance game provides, and you will appreciate how they have fun while working on their balance. Admittedly, I could do without the sound effects...

Kids Pull Up bars - There are many options to choose from!  I chose the adjustable ones that also have rings attached. Be sure to check that the one you purchase can be hung in your toy room or bedroom entryway of choice. 

Jump Ropes - 'nough said. I have several lengths so that they can practice alone or play with others.

Musical Hop Skipper - You can find this on Amazon and it's perhaps the best bang for your buck on this list.I first saw these at a friend's house and am impressed how much it continues to be used three years after purchasing it. I love its options! For example, the speed and height and the number of bars to jump are adjustable. It stores nicely in a basket in our toy room and although sometimes the jumping bars are repurposed for flag poles or swords, the skipper always seems to make its way back to its original intent. I dig this well thought out toy so much I don't even mind the music that it plays. 

Slack line - I actually bought our slack line for MacGyver's 35th birthday. But, it's something we all enjoy. We can take it to a park or play in the yard. Often when doing yard work, we have the slack line set up for the kids. Before we know it, the kids will be able to do the yard work and mom and dad can have slackline competitions. I'm hopeful, anyway. I should add, our slack line has resulted in neighbors we didn't previously know stopping by and chatting while we are on it. It's been a great way to meet people!


Wedge Mat - You can buy these so they don't take a lot of space and kids can practice backward rolls and other tricks on it. The high end can support a child learning how to do a cartwheel, too.

bakari-fitness-gameFlip 2 Be Fit: Bakari Fitness Board Game - This game is a fun way to incorporate movement with memory. It's an active take on more traditional board games that help kids to learn that they can have a lot of fun. I love that in this game movement is always the reward, and never the punishment. I also love this company as they are do-gooders so check them out

I also challenge my family and yours to serve those in need this Holiday season. My husband and I have plans for our family to serve others over the winter break as we teach our children, and remind ourselves, the true spirit of Christmas isn't about the food or the shopping.

That's all for now. Clearly, this list is not exhaustive. What would you add? Why would you add it?  I look forward to hearing from you in the comment section below!

Whatever Holiday you celebrate, I hope it's the best one yet! 




Disclaimer:Move Live Learn, LLC received no funds or equipment for recommending these items. Move Live Learn, LLC is not responsible for any injury that may occur from using any of the products purchased based on this shopping guide. 



  • ChristieNS

    Excellent list. Thanks Amanda! I really don’t know if I should mention this one but my super active boy and girl dragged an old (but perfectly functional) stability ball out of our basement this past summer and played with it in the backyard almost daily for two months. I was astounded by the creative ways they used it, which included developing gymnastics/tumbling routines, inventing a soccer inspired game, and even just chilling/stretching on it while reading a book or after a long swim in the pool. At first I was worried that they could injure themselves playing with it, but it was fine.

    I would add to your list dive sticks for anyone with a swimming pool. You can pick up a set of brightly coloured dive sticks for $10-20 at your local pool supply store. I cannot begin to count the hours my kids and their friends have spent creating competitions and swimming to the bottom of our pool to retrieve these. Fantastic for lung capacity/endurance and overall swimming/diving strength.

    I concur re getting a lightweight bike! My awesome parents gave our daughter an amazing lightweight bicycle (also her first brand new bike, as she is the youngest) for her 8th bday in June…well, she went from struggling to bike 4km to easily cycling 15km+ several times a week on all types of terrain with zero difficulty.

    Skating lessons, hockey camp, etc. A gift of an activity or experience, such as a day at a ski hill with a lesson, sports camps, or even an adventure like zip lining or rock climbing make fantastic holiday presents that a child or the whole family can look forward to participating in together. Again my incredible parents tend to give us ski passes or contribute toward our ski gear as a Christmas gift as opposed to just giving us more stuff. I so appreciate these gifts since our focus is on doing things as opposed to having things.

    • Amanda Stanec

      Love your ideas, Christina! Thanks so much for the additions. I forgot how much our stability ball gets used by the kids. The ski passes, activity lesson coupons are a wonderful idea, too!

    • Love your ideas, Christina! Thanks so much for the additions. I forgot how much our stability ball gets used by the kids. The ski passes, activity lesson coupons are a wonderful idea, too!

  • Sarah Gietschier-Hartman

    This list is awesome! I would add a Little Tikes trampoline and a red Radio Flyer My 1st Scooter. (Links below!) Both of my boys use them safely inside and outside! I also love Spooner Boards. They are incredibly durable and can be used by children and adults. They help improve coordination and core strength. We also have a ball pit made with ball pit balls from Amazon and a plastic dog fence. We keep the balls in a large tote bag from IKEA when not in use, and the fence collapses for easy storage.