Thursday, May 13, 2010

Trike Traffic Town

May is National Bike Month. A fun way to celebrate with young children is to go outside and set up a Trike Traffic Town course on the blacktop or concrete using cones, traffic signs, chalk road markers, directional arrows and children on trikes, scooters or any favorite wheeled toy. (Don’t forget to provide each child with a properly fitted child-size or toddler-size helmet.) This activity also provides a perfect time to reinforce bike safety and the “rules of the road” on your playground.

Before children attempt pedaling through Traffic Town, teachers should ask them to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the side of the course and watch as you direct one child in demonstrating the how-to’s of the course. Verbally describe directions for each part of the course, i.e., “ride around the cones,” etc.

Next, line up the first riders on their trikes, at the start of the course and tell them to follow the leader, while you guide them safely through the course. Emphasize that Traffic Town is not a race and they should not speed through the activities. Stress to the children to keep some space between them. If a traffic jam does occur, tell the children to please wait patiently and not to rush their fellow trike riders.

Materials Needed:
10 Colored cones
6 Cones with Holes,
6 Traffic Signs,
Arrow Spots
2 Nylon Jump Ropes
Bubble Wrap or Textured Packing Material
Sidewalk Chalk

Traffic Town Course

1. Put the GO Traffic Signs, in the hole in top of a cone. Children on trikes begin here. Teachers may want to stagger the starting time of each child.

2. Put ONE WAY Traffic Signs, in hole in top of a cone. Place the 6 Colored Cones about 4-6 feet apart from each other. Using Sidewalk Chalk, make directional arrows around the cones to make a zigzag slalom course. Following the arrows, the trike riders zigzag from the right of one cone to the left of the next, and so on until they complete the 6 cone slalom course.
3. Place 2 ropes horizontally on the ground, parallel to each other and 2-3 feet apart to create a crosswalk. Put the yellow School Crossing Sign in the hole in top of a cone. Set it in front and to one side of the ropes. The trike riders continue traveling but must stop and wait for “pedestrians to cross” (other children or parents/teachers.) If no one is in the crosswalk, riders can proceed forward over the ropes.

4. Place several long strips of bubble wrap on ground. Put the yellow SLOW Sign in the hole in the top of a cone. Set it in front and to one side of the bubble wrap. Tell children that there is “Roadwork in progress. It’s a bumpy road,” as they drive their vehicles over the bubble wrap.

5. Set up 4 colored cones side by side horizontally in the middle of the traffic town. Put the DO NOT ENTER Sign in the hole in top of a cone, and place it in front of the 4 cones. (Tell the children that “The road is blocked! It looks like there was a rock slide!”) Place the Arrow Spots on the ground in front and to the side of the cones, indicating the direction the drivers must turn to maneuver their trikes around the blocked roadway.

6. Put the STOP Sign in the hole in top of a cone. Here. “We’ve come to the end of Traffic Town. Let’s do it again!” Using the remainder of the Arrow Spots, direct trike riders back to the beginning of the course.

Children will want to repeat traveling this popular roadway over and over again. Be alert to children traveling too fast and not being able to manage the curves safely. Children at this young age are figuring out what their muscles can and cannot do.

This activity promotes...

  • Gross motor development (using the large muscles of the legs and arms)
  • Visual discrimination (ability to recognize the traffic signs and arrows to follow directions)
  • Bilateral coordination (using legs to pedal the trike and arms to steer the trike)
  • Spatial awareness (children moving in the space with other children on trikes)
  • Traffic Town also fosters cooperative play and turn taking as well as dramatic play while preschoolers pretend to be “drivers” and following the road.

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