10 Fun Ways to Play With a Hula Hoop

Get your kid away from the screen with these ideas

When it comes to toys, hula hoops are old school—inexpensive, simple, and there's no need to plug them in, charge their batteries, or download an app to use them. But hula-hooping also is a fun way to burn calories, strengthen muscles, and improve coordination. Now maybe that's not enough to entice your kid to put down the video game controller, but if he's like most children he's spending an average of seven and a half hours in front a screen each day, according to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. 


The Classic Spin and Variations

Hula hoop games - the classic spin
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Challenge your kid to get a hula hoop to spin around his waist and keep it going for longer and longer periods of time. This basic trick alone will take a lot of practice. Once he's mastered it, encourage him to get fancy—shift the hoop up to his neck and back down for instance, or get two hoops whirling around each arm at the same time. 


Hula Hoop Targets

Set hoops on the ground or prop them upright against a wall or tree as targets for beanbags, water balloons, or foam darts. Or tie a hoop onto a rope and hang it from a playset or tree branch. Make it swing to create a challenging moving target!


Up, Down, Under, Over

This hula hoop game is for a group. Have three or four kids stand inside a large hoop, holding it at waist level without using their hands. Challenge them to wiggle the hoop up to their necks or down to their ankles without using their hand, or to all move from inside the hoop to outside without grabbing it or letting it touch the ground.


Roll Along

In Colonial times, kids used sticks to roll upright hoops along the ground. Have your child try to do the same using a stick or his hands. See how far he can go before the hoop falls over. Once he masters this skill, give him a new challenge: Draw a line with chalk for him to trace with the hoop or set up obstacles (such as small traffic cones, plastic bowling pins, or even lawn chairs) for him to slalom around.



You'll need several hoops for this game. Lay them out on the ground in a pattern your child can hopscotch through. A similar option: Arrange two parallel rows of hoops for your kid to race through like a tire run, soldier-style.


Hula Hoop Home Base

Hula hoops make great bases for many kinds of tag. Or you can try this two-person hula hoop game: Place two hoops about eight feet apart (you may have to adjust this distance depending on the ages and skill levels of the kids playing the game). Give each child one or two beanbags. Their goal is to toss their bean bag(s) into their opponent's hoop while at the same time preventing their opponent's bags from landing in their own hoop. To do this they can use their hands, feet, or any other part of their body to deflect the incoming beanbags.


Human Ring Toss

Here's another two-or-more player game. Designate one kid to be the target. Have him put on a bike helmet and then stand still while the other players take turns trying to toss a hula hoop over him from the same spot. Have kids take turns being the target and increase the challenge by moving the spot they throw from further and further away. 


Hula Hoop Jump Rope

A hula hoop can be used just like a jump rope. Have your child hold the hoop vertically in front of her body. From there she can flip it down toward her feet, jump over it, and bring it back behind her and overhead. Have her try it on the soft ground first so if she trips and falls she doesn't skin her knees. 


Hula Hoop Pass

This is another classic hula hoop game. You need a group of players. Have everyone stand in a line or circle holding hands. Give the first person the hoop looped over one arm. Players must pass the hoop down the line or around the circle without letting go of one another's hands.


Hula Hoop High

Here's a simple, but challenging, activity: Have kids take turns tossing a hula hoop straight up in the air and then catching it on the way down. It's harder than it sounds, so warn spectators to stand clear. 

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