Video games that incorporate physical movement can help kids practice motor skills. To play these games, you need a gaming system, like Wii, PlayStation or Xbox. Here are eight video games to consider.
Price and availability may vary but were accurate at the time of publication, on October 21, 2016. Understood does not endorse or receive financial compensation for the sale of any of these products.
Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved
Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved lets kids control, or conduct, music using their hands. The game is loosely inspired by the film Fantasia, and the music includes classic symphonies as well as modern pop hits. The hand gestures in the game are simple—they range from moving a hand forward to waving. The game tends to be good for kids in grade school and up, but it does move very quickly at times. It requires a special Kinect motion-sensing controller to play.
Available for: Xbox 360, Xbox One
Fruit Ninja Kinect 2
In Fruit Ninja Kinect 2, kids swing their arms to chop virtual fruit and score points. It has a multi-player option, so you and your child can compete and help one another. This game also requires the Kinect motion-sensing controller to play.
Available for: Xbox One
With Just Dance, kids can dance to music as they try to follow the moves of virtual dancers. Depending on your gaming system, the game tracks movement through controllers, sensors or cameras. It features current pop songs and has options for multiple players and different difficulty levels. Another dance video game option for younger kids is Zumba Kids. Older kids and teens may like Dance Central.
Available for: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Kinect Party is a family-friendly collection of short party games. The gaming system’s camera records kids and then projects their images onto the screen. When kids appear on the screen, they can interact with visual effects. For instance, in one game, kids can see themselves with virtual wings. There’s no competition, just exploration and fun. Like other Xbox Kinect games, Kinect Party requires the Kinect motion-sensing controller to play.
Available for: Xbox 360
In Let’s Yoga! a virtual model demonstrates yoga poses for kids. The game includes more than 80 yoga poses. It also has a calming soundtrack and offers yoga tips. Many of the tips are read aloud, which could benefit kids with reading issues. Kids can also pause the game and rotate the model to look at the yoga techniques more closely and from different angles. A similar game called Let’s Pilates! introduces kids to Pilates exercises.
Available for: Nintendo DS
Sesame Street: Ready, Set, Grover!
This Sesame Street Wii game is for very young kids. It focuses on simple stretches and movements, and the controls “moves” are basic. For instance, in one activity, kids stretch by holding the remote control above their heads. There’s no score, and no pressure on kids to perform well. The difficulty level adjusts automatically, but it can also be set manually. If kids need more help, parents can even join as another player.
Available for: Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo Wii
Sports Champions 2
Sports Champions 2 is a set of sports mini-games. To play them, kids use PlayStation Move controllers, which are handheld wands. Using the controllers, they can play sports like boxing, bowling, tennis, golf, archery and more. They can even downhill ski. Kids of all skill levels can typically find an activity they like.
Available for: PlayStation 3
Wii Fit is a game with over 40 athletic activities, from aerobics to ski jumping to yoga. The game comes with the Wii Balance Board, an electronic board kids stand on while playing. By stepping on the board and shifting their weight, kids can control what happens in the game. Using the balance board can be challenging, so Wii Fit is better suited for older grade-schoolers and up. A similar game that doesn’t require a balance board is Wii Sports Club.
Available for: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U (Wii Fit U)
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About the author
Common Sense Media, Understood Founding Partner is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in a world of media and technology.
Keri Wilmot is an occupational therapist who works with children of varying ages and abilities in all areas of pediatrics.