Animal Parade

by Chris Chapan

Children love to use their imagination when they play. What a wonderful idea to have children stretch and strengthen their bodies as they mimic imaginary animals. Each exercise teaches coordination, balance, stability, and motor function.


  • The Puppy Dog Walk

The Puppy Dog is a simple walk. To perform this exercise, have the students place their hands on the floor with their knees bent but not touching the floor. Then, have them lightly run forward. This exercise teaches coordination of the quadriceps and the hamstrings, and it prepares students for tumbling. The student remains on the floor at all times.

  • The Lame Puppy Walk

The Lame Puppy walk is demonstrated by placing both hands and one foot on the floor. The student walks on all threes while changing directions and positions with the hands and feet. This exercise teaches patterning and it is a good exercise for warming up the legs.

  • Walk the Dog

The students shift their weight over to the left side and pick up their right hand and right foot. Quickly place the right side of their body down. Repeat this on the left side. Walking the dog is great for biceps, triceps, and the legs. For advanced learners have them walk backwards and sideways.

  • The Crab Walk

The Crab Walk is an old favorite. It develops coordination in reverse walking, stretches the back, strengthens arms, legs, and stomach muscles. Sitting on the floor have knees bent, feet flat on floor, hands flat on the floor and slightly behind the body. Lift hips off the floor and walk backwards. For an advanced learner, have the child walk forwards. This prepares students for back bends and walkovers.

  • The Crab Kick

Do the Crab position with the body supported on the hands and feet and the back parallel to the floor. The knees are at right angles. On all crab positions keep the seat up and allow the body to sag. Kick the right leg in the air. After you have done this, ten times switch and kick with the left foot.

  • The Duck Walk

The Duck Walk develops strength in the upper thigh muscles, develops stretching in the lower back muscles, and coordinates legs and balance in the squat position without the use of the arms. The description is as follows.

To perform this exercise, the children should place feet slightly apart, bend the knees, and bend the trunk forward in a squat position. They should then place their arms on the inside of their legs and grasp their ankles with their hands. Having the students walk backwards in the same position will help them develop an even greater sense of balance. This is an advanced exercise for adults, but children seem to perform and enjoy this exercise fairly well.

  • The Cat’s Meow

Children place their hands on the floor in front of their feet with knees bent. One leg should be stretched straight back keeping both hands on the ground. The opposite knee is on the ground for balance. Have children bring their leg down and slowly walk forward four steps using both hands and feet and keeping low to the ground.

  • The Mad Cat

Get down on your hands and knees with the back sagging somewhat. Arch the back rounding it as much as possible with a contraction of the abdominal muscles. Hold for 40 seconds.

  • The Ostrich Walk

Students stand tall and place their hands on their hips at the waist with elbows out to the side. Alternate each knee up before stepping forward. At the same time, they should take steps forward. Bend over and place their hands on the ground while keeping their legs as straight as possible. They should then put their heads down and hold this position for eight to ten counts. Repeat the walk and the stretch. When the music changes, they may want to try to do the sequence faster using only four counts each for the walk and the stretch.

  • The Frog Frolic

Have children place their hands on the ground in front of the feet and bend the knees keeping the hands on the ground. Do knee bends in place. Reach forward with both hands and jump with both feet up to hands and on the cue. Next place hands on the floor fairly wide apart and put the top of their head on the ground in front of their hands while trying to balance their knees on their elbows. This exercise prepares students for a handstand.

  • The Swimming Swan

Children should kneel on the ground, and sit back on their heels keeping their backs straight. First, they should pull back with bodies while bringing their arms forwards and then arch their bodies forward while putting their arms back. Repeat this twice. Next, have children lie down on their stomachs with arms stretched out forwards, legs together and straight back. In this position they should lift their arms and their legs up at the same time while arching their back. In looking up with their heads. Legs should be as straight as possible. Hold together with toes pointed. Then children may relax their bodies and return to the earlier stomach position. Have the children sit back and heels, stretching their back by reaching their arms out in front of them on the ground. Finally have them return to the starting position by sitting back on their heels with straight backs.

  • The Kangaroo Jump

The Kangaroo Jump is a great exercise for the legs. Children should stand feet together and back straight. They should bend their knees and bend both of their arms in front of their bodies. Their hands are dropped forward. Then, have them jump both feet in time with music. A variation of this can be with the children doing the exercise front, back, left, and right with their feet.

  • The Giraffe Jiggle or Walk

Stand up tall with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Make sure your back is straight and upright. Reach arms over the head and slowly skip forward twice. Then walk forward twice again and do another slow skip. The Giraffe Skip is great for stabilizing the back and teaching control with the legs.

  • Flamingo Stand

Stand with your feet together and place your palms together in front of your chest with your fingers pointed up. Focus on a spot in front of you and bend forward from the waist. Bend one leg up and hold as long as you can. Straighten up to a stand with your feet together. Now let us do the other leg. The flamingo stand presents new difficulties. If a child is uncoordinated, have him/her stand and hold on to a chair or bring their leg just slightly off the floor. This exercise strengthens and stretches out your legs and ankles and focuses on balance.

  • The Crocodile Crawl

Have children place their hands on the floor in front of them. Their legs should be stretched out straight behind them, keeping toes together. As the children being to creep, they should walk forward with their hands, dragging their feet behind them. They will stretch out their arms and hands to simulate the jaws of a crocodile.

  • Lizard Loopy Lou

Lay on the ground. Keep elbows at 90 degrees. Take a single forward motion with your left arm, and then a step with your left foot. Bring your knee forward far enough to twist your waist like a reptile’s. Repeat the sequence with your right arm and then your right left. The lizard works the pectoral muscles, biceps, forearms and hip flexors and extensors.

  • Inch Worm

Assume a position where your feet are on the floor (shoulder width) while your hands are flat on the ground in front of you (also shoulder width). At the starting position, your butt should be high in the air. Imagine you are making an inverted "V" with your body. Walk your hands out as far as possible, and then walk your hands back to the starting position. Preferably, at the end position, your abs should be two to three inches off the ground and you will look like a flying superman. The inchworm stretches and strengthens the back, arms, shoulder, hamstrings, and glutes.

  • Bear Crawl

On all fours, crawl along the floor keeping yourself low. Chest remains off the floor. Keeping a movement at a moderate pace to avoid "hopping". The exercise can be done moving forward, backward, or sideways. The bear crawl stretches and strengthens the hamstrings, gastroneimus, ankle, the gluteus maximus, and back. It also teaches coordination, agility, and speed.

  • Seal Pose

Sit back almost on your heels -- not completely back on heels where it would hurt your knees and ankles. Point your fingers to the side like flippers. With back flat, lift your chest to straighten elbows. Keep your seat off your heels and hold the pose. The seal pose stretches and strengthens the quadriceps, abductors, adductors, the sartious, patella, and back. It also teaches balance, coordination, and stability.

  • Bunny Bounce

Children stand with feel together, knees slightly bend and ringing hands up near ears. Have them hop first on the right foot, then switch and hop on the left foot. Children should jump with both feet apart and then continue hopping first on the right foot and then on the left.

  • Elephant Walk

Put your fingers together and bend over slowly from a standing position. With your back straight, swing your arms back and forth like an elephant's trunk as you walk. The elephant walk stretches out the shoulders, arms and strengthen your legs.


In conclusion exercise can be fun and using animals can create an atmosphere to encourage healthy habits. You can slightly change the exercise and make a new animal. Remember working with children can be a zoo!

Workouts That Work
September 11, 2001