Sunday, September 2, 2012

Great Playlist for Kids Exercise – Fun Dancing Songs #2

Finding fun music with a great beat can make exercising with the kids fresh, interesting, and engaging. Here's another list of songs that work nicely when working out with my kids. The tempo varies between songs, and I have also included some ideas for exercises you might do with the songs.

Who Let the Dogs Out - Fun Dance Song for Kids, Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Who Let the Dogs Out

I think almost every child that I know has heard this song. Just start playing it and the beat tends to immediately capture everyone's attention. Children tend to love the barks and the beat. If you want to get things started out on the right foot, you about can't go wrong with this song! Who Let the Dogs Out lends itself very well to kickboxing moves, jumping jacks, and lots more. When the chorus begins, I like to have the kids walk to the right and then push their hands up in the air and jump up and down while turning around with the barking and repeat in the other direction. You can have lots of fun with this one!

The Bare Necessities

The Bare Necessities is a nice one to play after the faster paced Who Let the Dogs Out. Add a few squats and monkey arms, and the kids can quickly get into character. This is also a fun one to pretend to be marching in a parade while playing various musical instruments like a clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and tuba. It has a great tempo for throwing in a Charleston for those who like to dance. I like to break down the Charleston by starting with a tap and then adding a knee and finally throwing in a kick. If you add the Charleston, make sure you leave enough time on the song to add the other side!

African Dancing With the Kids - Photo by Qniemiec at Wikimedia Commons
African Beats (African Dream)

African Beats is an instrumental song that can give the kids an opportunity to add a bit of imagination into the workout. Lots of kids enjoy trying simple African dance moves with this one. You can also pretend to play drums. Add variety by "playing" different sized drums, turning side to side, reaching high and low, etc. You can also step sideways to the right for four steps and then back to the left with this one. Kids who want a challenge can squat as they move to the right and left or you might change the steps to a shuffle to the right and left if they still have loads of energy.

Chorus Tau Zorba

Dance seems to transcend all languages. That seemed to ring true for me when I visited my sister when she lived in Greece. I could not speak Greek, but I loved dancing to Greek songs near the Aegean Sea. OK, so you're thinking that perhaps you don't know how to do Greek dancing. It's quite alright! If you've ever done a grapevine in group exercise class, you have the basic tools. Do two grapevines to the right, add arms out to the side and turn the palms up and down while you move. When you get to the end, kick the inside leg inward and yell "hey!" You can also try a triple step and add a bounce to it for fun. This song gets faster and faster, so be ready to really move quickly near the end.

Encourage Kids to be Active With Fun Songs - Photo by SonNy cZ at Wikimedia Commons
The Lion Sleeps Tonight

After Zorba, most kids will probably need to slow down the pace a bit, and The Lion Sleeps Tonight is a great song to follow a super fast one. Step Touch and add a few finger snaps. Move up and back or side to side with that same basic move. You can also slow down and alternate lunges to the back to strengthen the legs. This is also a good one for doing toe taps or lifting the knees. If you are doing simple moves like this, you can try having the kids face one direction for a certain number of counts and then turn and face another direction for the same number of counts for variety.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

This is another older song, but it is full of energy! Because this one has such a fast beat, I like to keep the moves super simple. You can march in place and add arms like they are jumping rope. If the kids want more, add progressive levels, like lifting both heels at the same time while keeping the balls of the feet on the floor, jumping like the rope is going under the feet, jumping while alternating heels to the front or toes to the back, or even lifting the knees like they are doing double Dutch. If everyone looks a bit winded, have the kids pretend to turn two ropes like someone is jumping the ropes in front of them. I love to encourage the kids to put their own flavor into pretending to jump rope and enjoy watching them do all sorts of fancy moves with their arms and legs!

Have Fun and Get Fit With Children - Photo by Drew Jackson at Wikimedia Commons
The Locomotion

The Locomotion has a slower beat that works well after everyone is about ready to fall over from "jumping rope" during the previous song. Add some arm moves like train wheels with a squat, and the kids can quickly pick up on this one. It can also be fun to add a train whistle here and there. Add interest with a little hand jive. If I have several kids working out together, they love to line up behind me and play follow the leader. Simply walk around the room and add all sorts of simple moves for the arms and legs without saying a word. It keeps everyone's interest up as they must watch to see what you will do next!

Wipe Out

I have never tried surfing in the ocean, but it sure can be fun to pretend to surf while exercising to Wipe Out! Stand on your "board," raise your arms, and start swaying to the music. Switch lead leg every so many beats. You can also take a swim on land while moving your arms in various swimming strokes. If the kids particularly liked the drumming earlier, you can have them "play" the bongos with this song as well. Near the end of the song, you might try having the kids march in place and keep getting faster and faster until they "Wipe Out" at the end.

Freedom Dance (Smoke That Thunders)

Freedom Dance can set the stage for cooling down, slowing down, and breathing deeply. I love this one for moving into yoga balance poses once everyone looks like they have returned to a lower heart rate. Try standing on one foot while lifting the other knee to the front or even straightening that leg to the front. You can also lift the leg to the side or back while balancing on the other foot. The tree pose tends to be pretty popular with the kids, and you can add fun sounds and encourage the kids to use their imagination while moving their arms and legs through various ranges of movement. This song has an owl calling near the end, so you can add a little bit of information about helping to protect our raptor friends!

Creative Ways to Teach Kids About Culture and Dance - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Crow Wing

Crow Wing showcases some Native American music. I like to add lots of different types of music from various cultures. Many kids have never heard these types of music and they often enjoy the fun variety. This is a great song for sinking to the floor and/or adding some stretches. Once stretched, focus on some deep breathing exercises. Progressive relaxation is also a nice touch at the end where the kids lie down, close their eyes, and then you mention various muscles to relax, starting at the head and moving all the way down to the toes. Many kids and adults find relaxation to be one of the most challenging activities.

I hope you enjoy this list of songs that my kids and I have found to be fun and engaging. I have found that I can get a great workout while dancing and having fun with my kids and hope that you have found some great ideas here. Make sure to check with your healthcare professional before starting or changing any exercise routine.

Readers may also wish to see my first music list for exercising with kids. For more playlists, exercise tips and articles at the Fit Tips 4 Life site map.

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