Top Toys for Keeping Kids Active

Let them play without sitting all day

In today's world, a child's life is filled with screens (phones, TV, computers, handheld games). Parents often ask us how they can keep their child active during play - they don't want to raise a couch potato. You don't want to force your kids to exercise but enjoy it naturally in the world of play, something they will have fun doing.

Keeping kids active is one of the hot button topics, in the toy biz and for kids' lives in general. Toys that keep kids moving help encourage physical activity as a habit - one that can last a lifetime.

A balanced diet and opportunities for regular physical activity are as important as ABCs and 123s for developing kids. Kids who are active experience less stress and have a greater ability to concentrate.

All of these toys let kids stay active through all different types of play - some even work mind and body together. Of course, with everyone talking about keeping kids active, there are going to be lots of choices out there. Here are our editors' picks for toys that let kids be active indoors, in order of our favorites.

  1. Wii Fit - Nintendo
  2. iconiconWii was the first gaming console that engaged more than just the fingers, and it really was the beginning of the active-play phenomenon for video games. With this breakthrough product it's possible to get a legitimate workout while getting instant instruction, guidance, and feedback. The pressure-sensitive Wii Balance Board connects to the Wii unit. Put in the software and you're ready to go. The board is used for an extensive array of fun and dynamic activities, including aerobics, yoga, muscle stretches, and games. Many of these activities focus towards providing a "core workout, a currently popular exercise method that emphasizes slower, controlled motions. Family members will have fun staying active and talking about and comparing their results and progress on a new channel on the Wii Menu.

    Why it made the list: This is one of the only active play items on the market that delivers real, focused workouts. It can be used by people of any age, and it provides instruction and motivation. Plus, you can track your progress and see real results over time with consistent use.

    Rated: Everyone
    Approx. Retail Price: $150.00

  3. Smart Cycle - Fisher Price
  4. iconiconThe Fisher Price Smart Cycle combines video game learning play with physical activity. Designed for kids ages three to six, the Smart Cycle "physical learning arcade system" is an all-in-one stationary bike, video game, and educational tool. Plug it into the TV and then start pedaling. Challenges - both physical and cognitive - are age appropriate, engaging, and fun.

    Why it made the list: This is a completely age-appropriate experience for kids. The graphics and software are engaging, and it's easy for kids to pedal while they pay attention to what's on the screen.

    Ages: 3 - 6 years
    Approx. Retail Price: $99.99

  5. U Dance  - Hasbro
  6. iconiconU-Dance is a motion-based dance game that connects to the TV. The mat-free system reads the Motion Tags that slip over any shoes (or bare feet). Turn it on, and step into the fun. Players follow real dance moves as they watch their feet show up on the screen. Play at three levels of difficulty, and bop along to twelve classic and current dance hits.

    Why it made the list: As an activity, dancing has never been hotter. This is the first really functional unit that doesn't require a videogame console and is great for all ages.

    Ages: 8 +
    Approx. Retail Price: $74.99

  7. Hyper Dash  - Wild Planet
  8. iconiconThe electronic game that's as fast as you are, Hyper Dash from Wild Planet lets you play solo, head-to-head, or in teams. Set the targets on the table, around the room, or outdoors, follow the announcer's commands, and tag the targets with the handheld unit. The fastest time wins! Four game modes challenge your speed, skill, memory, coordination and teamwork. Music and the announcer's voice drive the action. The game includes the ergonomically designed Hyper Dash unit and 5 targets.

    Why it made the list: This game is all about getting kids running around. It's fun, silly, and customizable depending on the level of challenge you want. It doesn't just exercise small bodies; it exercises the mind at the same time. Plus, it's really fun.

    Ages: 6 - 12 years
    Approx. Retail Price: $19.99

  9. Laugh and Learn Smart Bounce and Spin Pony  - Fisher Price
  10. iconiconThis cheerful, brightly colored pony is ideal for little ones. It works like a bouncer that responds to baby's every action. But there's a lot more. Connect it wirelessly to the television and kids will find all kinds of age appropriate content that will engage little minds while setting the stage for learning and reinforcing things kids learn interacting with parents.

    Why it made the list: This is great for toddlers who love to bounce. The unit works with or without the television, and it has appropriate levels of cognitive challenge.

    Ages: 12 - 36 months
    Approx. Retail Price: $69.99

  11. Disney High School Musical "Got the Moves" Dance Mat - Zizzle
  12. iconiconWith four of the most popular High School Musical songs, this Disney High School Musical "Got the Moves" Dance Mat from Zizzle lets you follow along with the lights on the console and master all three levels including Beginner, Pro, and Star!

    Why it made the list: Well, it starts with High School Musical. Not only has it revitalized the musical as something cool, it's made dance cooler than ever for boys and girls. Designed for young fans of the franchise, this mat gets kids moving to their favorite songs from this mega-hit.

    Ages: 5 +
    Approx. Retail Price: $29.99

  13. Give Me Five Sports Station - Fisher Price
  14. iconiconThis large, easily-assembled unit has everything kids need to practice their skills in five different sports - baseball, football, soccer, basketball, and hockey - all without changing the basic set up. It comes with all the equipment and accessories needed to get future sports stars on track for their goals of tomorrow.

    Why it made the list: This is an ideal sports toy for kids who love to participate but aren't ready for real sports equipment yet. It lets them feel like big kids, but there's plenty of challenge. It's a great value because of the versatility, and it's fun for older kids - or parents - to play along.

    Ages: 3 - 9 years
    Approx. Retail Price: $149.99

  15. V Motion - V Tech
  16. iconiconV-Motion takes educational video gaming to a whole new level with a motion-activated gaming system that engages both active minds and bodies. V-Motion plugs directly into the TV to provide kids with a high-tech gaming experience using age-appropriate learning games and a motion-activated, intuitive wireless controller. V-Motion also includes the V.Link(TM) (USB drive) that connects kids to VTech's secure online site to unlock bonus games and track their scores against other gamers.

    Why it made the list: For kids who are fascinated by the Wii but may be too young to work it, this is the perfect solution. It provides a big-kid gaming experience, offers age-appropriate and fun learning, and keeps kids engaged.

    Ages: 3 - 7 years
    Approx. Retail Price: $59.99

  17. ME2 - iToys
  18. iconiconReady to get active? This new handheld and online gaming gadget teaches kids that exercise can be FUN! With the ME2, or "My Electronic Double," create your own avatar to represent you in the virtual world and motivate you to be active. The avatar is powered by activity, and there's built-in reinforcement and encouragement. The more a child is active, the more powerful his or her avatar becomes in the virtual world. Kids can earn points for their avatars by walking, running, biking, skateboarding, and more! Simply clip the ME2 to clothes or put it in your pocket to rack up points with every move.

    Why it made the list: This is certainly innovative use of the online/offline play pattern that's so popular right now. It also allows kids to participate in any activity in order to score points and build the strength of their avatars. It combines open-ended, self-directed play with a cool online world.

    Ages: 8 - 14 years
    Approx. Retail Price: $29.99

  19. High School Musical 3 Senior Year Bundle with Dance Pad - Disney Interactive
  20. iconiconHigh School Musical 3: Senior Year DANCE! lets fans experience the energy, fun, and music of all three "High School Musical" movies. Players can dance to the beat of favorite "High School Musical" songs in familiar movie locations alongside their favorite characters. Featuring new music from the first theatrical release in the franchise, High School Musical 3: Senior Year DANCE! will keep the Wildcat fun moving. Players can unlock new songs, characters, clothing, and accessories.

    Why it made the list: HSM, dancing, great music. It's a complete HSM experience, and it provides an opportunity for social interaction with friends as well.

    Rated: Everyone
    Approx. Retail Price: $49.99

  21. Step It Up Dance Mat - Moose Mountain 
  22. iconiconStep it Up Dance Mat. Set includes electronic trainer module, four different work-outs to choose from, pre-programmed tunes, special MP3 player feature, exercise ball, and step ramp. Work your legs, arms, and lower body while having fun. Follow along with the trainer as it calls out your exercise moves.

    Why it made the list: This is real workout stuff at home. Easy to use and helps players achieve real results with consistent use. We love the MP3 feature that lets you customize the music to your workout.

    Ages: 5 - 10 years
    Approx. Retail Price: $29.99

  23. Animal Scramble - Wild Planet

  24. iconiconAnimal Scramble is the listen-and-learn game of animal tag. Set out the animals and listen to the giraffe call out friendly, encouraging clues. Which animal is green? Who says "roar?" Kids must scramble to the correct animal and tag it with the giraffe. This active learning game lets kids move, have fun, and build coordination as they learn colors, numbers, and animal sounds. Five levels of run-around fun, from easy to hard, allow this game to grow with your child.

    Why it made the list: The whole point of the game is being active. Plus it works the whole child by assigning "challenges" to the activity. This is solid cognitive and physical learning for toddlers and preschoolers all in a fun, engaging game.

    Ages: 3 - 6 years
    Approx. Retail Price: $19.99

  25. Candy Rock 'N Bounce Pony - Radio Flyer
  26. iconiconThe classic Radio Flyer Rock 'N Bounce Pony received a makeover and now boasts a flashy design in pastel hues of pink and purple. This Toys"R"Us exclusive features a safety saddle to keep toddlers secure, which can be removed to accommodate an older child. The patented rubber bounce suspension provides a safe, quiet ride, while the soft fabric body can be removed for easy cleaning. Riders can also hold onto the easy grip handles for safe, fun riding.

    Why it made the list: This is for the littlest kids and helps them get active. For kids of this age, simply bouncing can be very effective developmentally. The versatile design allows it to grow with the child, and provides a springboard for imaginative play.

    Ages: 9 months - 3 years
    Approx. Retail Price: $79.99

  27. Hannah Montana Dance Mat with DVD/Wig
  28. iconiconNow your little girl can have the best of both worlds. With the Hannah Montana Dance Mat and Secret Celebrity instructional DVD, she can learn to dance and sing just like Hannah! Includes Hannah Montana wig and realistic, pretend, wireless headset microphone. She'll feel just like a rock star as she swings her long blonde hair and performs her favorite Hannah Montana songs!

    Why it made the list: This gives classic dress-up play an active twist. Little girls love pretending to be Hannah, and this item keeps bodies and imaginations active. The dances can be challenging for the youngest kids, but as they keep trying, they'll learn some of the key elements of learning to dance: watch, understand, and repeat themselves. Terrific!

    Ages: 5 +
    Approx. Retail Price: $29.99

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