More exercise for children thanks to activity cards

Monday 22 July 2019

It happens, because we make it happen. That is what we believe at NHL Stenden. In this Students on Stage section, our students share how they are passionately and enthusiastically doing their part in society. Kelly Lageweg, Aaltsje Kroes and Monique van der Wal, three Pedagogy students, found a way to help pedagogical employees with getting children to exercise more by using activity cards.


“Lecturers, students, and local child day-care centres are excited about this way of motivating children to exercise more!”

The students’ research shows that around 44% of children under the age of 12 are not sufficiently engaged in physical activities. This means that they frequently do not meet the requirement of 1-hour-a-day moderate to intensive physical activities. The students conducted this research as part of their minor subject ‘Development stimulation and support in child upbringing’. They found the results to be shocking and therefore tried to find a solution. Kelly explains: “Initiatives such as ‘Healthy School’ are already motivating kids to exercise more, but they don’t always offers tangible solutions for pedagogical employees. We’ve developed the activity card called ‘MAKkelijk Bewegen’ [Easy Exercise] to create an easy and accessible way for children to engage in physical activities. 

Accessible solutions

Inactivity is unhealthy for anyone and this is especially true for children. The set of activity cards is meant to make physical activity more accessible, without it having to be a fixed part of the curriculum. The cards are easy to handle and furthermore, the activities on them do not have to take a long time to complete. The set is primarily meant to serve as inspiration for pedagogical employees to get children to exercise. For instance, it could come in handy when halfway the afternoon it is time for the children to blow off some steam.  

The cards have descriptions of possible physical activities in three categories: daily, inside, and outside. The activities range from games such as ‘red light / green light’, to small ways to incorporate physical activities in daily life. By having children get their plates from a slightly higher shelve, for instance. “We make use of exercises that require little to no materials and a short amount of time,” Kelly explains. The accessibility of the exercises are key.   

User reactions to the activity cards

The activity cards have undergone testing at an after-school-day-care centre and has been well received. Aaltsje: “Lecturers, students and local day-care centres are, like us, very excited about our idea! We hope it can soon be implemented in more day-care centres and perhaps later on, in primary schools.” The students are currently discussing the possibilities with a publisher of bringing the cards to market.

Direct contact between company and study programme

The activity cards create awareness in day care: “It sometimes seems as if children don’t remember which active games to play, because they are tied to the screen,” Bettina van der Veen states. “The activity cards has helped us pedagogical employees to learn new games and after a test period, we now know that the children are often doing these games of their own accord.” The cards are a good way to play alone and together. “Children sometimes need to cross a threshold to get out of their comfort zone. The cards show easy games in different varieties. This helps interns to keep doing new activities, for instance.”

Bettina van der Veen, supervisor at child day care ‘Het Wakertje’   

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