Preschoolers learning from movement

Activities for preschoolers

This reminded me of an article by  Rae Pica (1997) who thought that active play with peers encouraged social and emotional learning as it requires awareness of others, turn taking and cooperation in creating a sense of happiness from achieving positive peer interactions. Kids love doing active things together!

Obstacle courses

Especially ones they have input into, try to incorporated instability, walking, crawling, jumping and things they need to go over or under, give obstacles names ie; the tyre of doom or walking the pirates plank. Do it with the children to role model or engage target children as leaders or to be the “first” to try.

In summer have the final hurdle be a ramp into water or use hula hoops to roll in front of children as moving obstacles. You have children carry objects through the course to score goals or points to encourage them to keep going back again and again with some reward for whoever “scores the most times”. Make the course a baton relay with teams at each end or set up 2 courses for teams to race on.

Almost any object can be used on a obstacle course – logs for stepping stones planks for walking on, going under or as a seesaw to walk across, bean bags to jump, rope to pull and tyres to leap, try using a tarp to army crawl under or plastic pipes to walk length ways yours and the children’s ideas are limitless.

Alternatively for older children – make pictures of different activities ie: leap frog, star jumps, forward rolls and ball throw or ring toss and have children do a circuit trying each movement.

Try putting music on, have the children do the activities to different paced music, let them know it’s fun to be engaged in these activities. Don’t forget obstacle courses for bikes too.


How many times have said “Throwing is for outside!” Give lots of opportunity for children to throw, theorists believe throwing is an inbuilt and innate part of boy learning retained from our hunter ancestors – let them throw – target or score! Let them hone a skill that helps them learn to control their minds and bodies, estimate force, weight and distance while practicing perseverance.

Balls into buckets, bean bags at cans, put a target on the wall – use chalk or on an A3 sheet and throw wet sponges or water bombs. I’ve always wanted to try a big canvas with children throwing paint sponges – watch this space.

Challenge active children – if they are engaged in throwing or batting with fly swats or doing target practice with water spray bottles or any other stationary movement then have them stand on a box or on an uneven surface that will challenge their proprioceptive or unconscious sense of space and movement. Keep your mind open throw ducks instead of balls, keep thing silly and interesting.

Rope – My favourite Item for play

Jump it, or go Under it – Limbo

Walk it – try “Elephants on a string”

Towing each other – bikes, boats, prisoners

Swing on it, Tug on it, hang upside down on it …

Let the children’s imaginations turn it into anything –

Recently I saw two children use skipping ropes to pull a tyre they called their boat on to a plank on top of another tyre which they sat in and sailed – until they towed it again to put into a big wooden cube hut.  Imagination, role playing, leadership, problem solving and working theories focused, engaged and perseverance. These girls were building a relationship through active play. I observed a lot of energy going into manipulating objects to fit their play and all without my help although I did ask questions and suggest the tyre was too wide to go in the cube length ways.


If it’s windy make kites, paper darts or animal shapes with crepe paper tails on a stick or straw, A recent butterfly experience led to children making their own then running outside with crepe paper fluttering behind them great to witness their expressions and the dance of the butterflies. If it’s hot put water in the sandpit and dig moats and channels, or build huts with planks or cardboard boxes and blankets to shelter in. Use what resources you have and let the children’s imaginations do the rest all you have to do is be present in the moment.


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