Jumping in puddles, balancing on a curb--activities like these do the important work of teaching kids to process messages from their bodies, says educator Carol Kranowitz. Her newest book, Growing an In-Sync Child, offers other easy exercises. A sample:
You'll need: A flashlight and a big dark room
What to do: Shine your light on a wall and ask your kid to "tag" it. Alternate between letting him hit it and jerking it away at the last second. giggles should ensue! Another option: Trail the light across the floor an ask him to jump on the roving spotlight.
Develops: Coordination, visual tracking
You'll need: A large gym mat, soft carpet, or mattress
What to do: Ask your kid to lie down on top of you, tummy to tummy, and hug you tight. Wrap your arms protectively around him and make sure he's not overextending his neck. Start rolling!
Develops: Balance, coordination, mind-muscle connection, a feel for how gravity works
If I had a Hammer
You'll need: An egg carton, wooden mallet or toy hammer, Styrofoam block, golf tees
What to do: place the egg carton upside down and encourage your child to hammer it flat. Then have him pound the tees into the block.
Develops: The ability to use both sides of the body independently, mind-muscle connection, sense of touch
Adapted from Carol Kranowitz and Joye newman's Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn and Grow ($16, Perigee)