Fun Core Exercises For Kids!

Viewing this page on your device?
Please adjust your settings to enable images!
I use small photos to illustrate the information and activities that I share, and you will have a much better experience on this website if you can view the images.

Easy core exercises to help kids develop better core stability and strength!

These core exercises for kids may help develop your child's core strength and stability.

Having good core strength can help your child sit well at a desk, and helps provide a stable base for gross and fine motor tasks.

As an occupational therapist and homeschooling mom, I have used these exercises in the schools where I have worked, as well as with my own children, so they are easy to do, and designed to be done by kids who may struggle with coordination and strength.

Not all children will become athletes, but all children do need some basic core stability in order to be functional in daily school and home tasks.

If you are at all concerned about your child's development, please get a professional opinion. The activities on this page are NOT a substitute for an occupational therapy evaluation and treatment.

Caution: Your child should only take part in these activities if he/she is medically and physically able to do so. Please get a professional opinion if you are at all uncertain. You should only demonstrate these activities if you are medically and physically able to do so. You do so at your own risk.


Helpful Tip For Activating Core Muscles

Kids sometimes struggle to know how to "activate" their core for stability during a gross motor activity. You can usually tell that their core muscles are not activating when they keep losing their balance, their tummy is sticking out and/or they are a bit slouched.

To help my kids "find" the right muscles to activate, I usually say something like this: "You know how you make your tummy hard when you think you are going to get punched in the tummy - those are the muscles that need to be working while you climb the tree/keep your balance/play this game".

I call this the "tummy punch trick"! Once they have "discovered" these muscles, keep reminding them of this trick during the exercise/activity!

We want our kids to protect their backs through adolescence and adulthood, so you can remind them of this trick (and use it yourself) whenever you need to move furniture or carry heavy items etc.

Back to Top


Snake Curls

This is an adaptation of a tummy curl and works really well if you get your child to hold for a few seconds and repeat it a few times per session. I like to play a musical recorder like a snake charmer and have the kids curl up when I play a tune!

Starting position:
- Knees bent, feet flat on the ground.
- Put a beanbag between the knees to keep them together.
- Hands are resting on thighs.

Have your child "curl up" by raising the head, sliding the hands up to the knees and maybe even hissing at you (holding the position) until you give the signal to go back down slowly.

kids tummy curls core exercises

Have kids take turns being the snake charmer!

Emphasize SLOW movements, rather than fast jerky ones.

Back to Top


Tightrope Walker

Have your child walk along a rope line (or a drawn line) while balancing the beanbag on his/her head.

Make it fun by saying there may be alligators in the water so don't step off the rope!

  • Make it harder by asking your child to stop, and bend over to touch the bottle midpath without letting the beanbag drop.
  • Walking heel-to-toe is harder and requires more core stability. Try this once your child can walk normally along a length of rope without falling off.

Very Important: Encourage your child to WALK SLOWLY! This will require more core muscle control from your child.

Remind them of the "tummy punch trick" if they keep losing their balance!

Back to Top


Making Bridges

Have your child keep knees and feet together while lifting the buttocks off the ground. This exercise strengthens the muscles around the hips and back, which are all part of the core.

Ask your child to hold the bridge position for a few seconds. Increase the time, or the number of repetitions, as your child improves.

Make it fun by driving toy vehicles under the "bridge" as this child is doing!

Back to Top


Crab Walk

Ask your child to get into this position.

Crabs actually walk sideways, but this is really tricky for kids, so start by asking your child to walk backwards for a short distance, keeping the back and tummy straight and bottom off the ground!

crab walk core exercise for kids

Put a beanbag or soft toy on the tummy – your child will have to keep it from falling off by not letting his/her back slump to the grass like this.

As this activity is quite demanding, set a short distance (2-3metres) for your child’s first attempt, and include it as a small part of an obstacle course or follow-my-leader game. As your child’s endurance increases, you can increase the distance set.

Back to Top


Leg Lifts

You get lots of different kinds of leg lifts, but this is a handy one for the classroom (although these pics were taken outside!).

It helps for adults to demonstrate this exercise so the child gets a better idea of the pace - as always - SLOWER is best!

Have your child stand sideways behind the chair so the left hand is resting lightly on the back of the chair.

Slowly lift the left leg, keeping the knee bent until the hip is bent 90 degrees as shown.

leg lifts core exercise for kids

Now comes the tricky part!

Hold it, and slowly lower the leg ALMOST to the ground, don’t touch the ground!

Now raise it again. Repeat once or twice.

Don't forget to turn around so the other hand can rest on the chair and do the exercises with the other leg.

Just do a few repetitions with each leg at the beginning and increase repetitions as your child’s endurance increases.

Remind them of the "tummy punch trick" if they keep losing their balance!

Back to Top


Core Exercises For Kids At The Park

Climbing up trees and clambering over jungle gyms are "sneaky" core exercises for kids who dislike doing specific exercises like the ones suggested on this page.

Climbing, pulling and clambering can help your child work on core strength and stability. Your child will benefit immensely from hours spent at the park!

Any activity that requires your child to lift both feet together (eg to swing both legs over a bar, or lift them both to wrap around a branch) will use the core muscles.

Encourage your child to pull up on knotted ropes or balance on low beams. If at first they don’t succeed, encourage them to keep trying at least once every time they go to the park – they will soon surprise themselves!

Back to Top


My Core Exercises For Kids E-book

The free core exercises for kids on this page are just a taste of the many core strengthening exercises and activities suggested in this OT Mom e-book.

For Just $5 (the price of a couple of cheap coffees!) you can download an e-book containing more than 20 pages of photographed core exercises for kids.

Read a full description and reviews over here!


Thank you for visiting! Why not sign up for my free, occasional newsletter to stay in touch with new and updated pages on my site?

› Core Exercises for Kids


If this page was helpful, please share it with your friends!

Related Pages

If you enjoyed these core exercises for kids, you may be interested in some of the other gross motor pages on my site - happy browsing!

Back to Top


Gross Motor Resources from PFOT

Exclusive Offer to OT Mom Readers
Use the coupon code OTmom and get 15% off your order of $35 or more at PFOT

This is an affiliate link and if you purchase something through my link, I will earn a small commission which helps to support my site!


Didn't find what you were looking for? Try a search of my site!