Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pair-a-Chute! Friends Playing Together

Celebrate love and friendship during the month of February by introducing the Pair-a-Chute (PAIRUP) to your children. Designed in favorite childhood colors, Pair-a-Chutes invite children of all ages to play. This new active play item is designed for children to play with a partner and at the same time practice such social skills as turn taking, sharing and cooperation.

See-Saw Pull - Ages: 3-5 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles with an overhand grip (palms down, fingers grasping the handle) while sitting down. The children pull the chute back and forth in a see-sawing motion. This is a good warm up and helps to strengthen shoulder, arm and hand muscles.

Up & Down - Ages: 3-5 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles at waist level with an overhand grip (palms down, fingers grasping the handle). When you say “up,” the children lift their arms above their heads. When you say “down,” the group lower their arms back to waist level. Continue until the children are able to move the Pair-a-Chute up and down smoothly. This is a good introductory game that helps children learn to work as a team.

How Many Times? -  Ages: 3-8 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles at waist level. Place one bean bag in the center of the chute. Following your signals, the children raise and lower the chute with the goal of tossing the bean bag in to the air as many times as possible before it flies off the Pair-a-Chute and lands on the ground. Each time the bean bag is tossed into the air, the children call out the number of times it has been tossed up. If the children are able to keep the bean bag up several times, add a second bean bag, then possibly a third.

Target Practice -  Ages: 3-8 years old
The size of the Pair-A-Chutes makes for a BIG target. Lay them on the ground and use them as targets for beanbag tossing (underhand--with hand swung below shoulder level) or hang them on a fence and use them as targets for beanbag throwing (overhand-- hand raised above shoulder).

We Can Fly! - Ages: 3-5 years old
One Pair-a-Chute for each child. Instruct them to hold the chute with a hand in each of the handles on one of the short sides of the rectangular chute. Have them raise it above their heads and run into the wind. The chute will billow in the wind behind them like a giant kite.

Popcorn - Ages: 3-5 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles at waist level. Place 4 bean bags (popcorn kernels) in center of the chute. Children chant the following as they shake the pair-a-chute--

4 popcorn kernels sizzling in the pan. (shake chute slowly)
The pan got hot and all of them popped! (shake chute vigorously) 

When all the bean bags (popcorn kernels) pop off the chute, children retrieve them and do it again. In fact, they will want to repeat the game over and over again.

Toss & Catch - Ages: 4-8 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles at waist level. One person (the tosser) tosses a bean bag toward the Pair-a-Chute. The children holding the chute work together to “catch” or receive the bean bag. The receivers return the bean bag to the tosser as they work together lifting and shaking the Pair-a-Chute.

Partners Toss & Catch - Ages: 4-8 years old
Use both Pair-a-Chutes and 4 children. Two children hold each Pair-a-Chute and stand 5 - 10 feet away from each other. One Pair-a-Chute team tosses a bean bag from their chute to the other Pair-a-Chute team’s chute. The object is for each team to propel the bean bag to the other team’s chute without it falling to the ground or floor. Challenge the teams to increase the distance between the Pair-a-Chutes. This is a great team-building activity as partners need to communicate the tossing and catching of the bean bag

Monday, January 16, 2012

Put Your Best Foot Forward in 2012

A study just published this month in “Pediatrics,” the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that kids spend about 70% to 83% of their time in child care being sedentary, not counting the time spent eating and napping. Only 2% to 3% of the time is spent in vigorous activities. Educators know vigorous activity is important to children. But they cited several barriers, including concerns about injuries, focus on academics and limited outdoor space and playground equipment. Research shows that children are more likely to be active if they are given time, space, freedom, and simple equipment (balls, hoops, and jump ropes). “Put your best foot forward” means to embark on a journey or task with purpose and gusto. Make a good start this year by planning and including physical activity outdoors and inside...while also meeting curriculum standards Be a great role model. Encourage and participate with children in physical activity. Adults demonstrate the importance of health and fitness through their actions as well as their words. Let’s get ‘em moving! Here’s how...

1. Go outside and play Shadow Tag: Instead of tagging bodies, the children step on each others’ shadows in this run and chase game.

2. Shadow Freeze: Play lively music and have children move in the open space. When the music stops, children must “freeze” their shadows. How long can they hold their shadows still? When the music starts again the children resume moving.

3. Shadow Dancing: Imitate each other’s movements. “Shadow Dancing Song” by Greg and Steve on “Kids in Motion” CD.

4. Shape Parade: Take your rhythm instruments outdoors and have a parade. Use appropriate marching music. Draw large shapes (circle, triangle, square, rectangle) with chalk on your outdoor surface. Have children march with instruments around each shape.

5. Create a unique movement path by placing Riverstones (AP6226J) or Activity Hoops on the ground. Pretend they are rocks in a river. Get from one side to the other without stepping in the river.

6. Go for a Wacky Walk: Place Movement Spots (arrows, shapes, hands and feet spots) on the ground outside. Make paths for children to go in straight lines, then zig-zag lines, then curvy lines, and then try walking backwards. Place the hands and feet spots in such a way to encourage children to walk like dogs or bears.

7. I Spy: Go outside and take turns saying, “I spy something ______” and then have the children run to that object

8. Include motor skill challenges during transition times. For example, “Let’s jump like frogs to circle time,” or “Please hop on one foot back to your seat.”
9. Snakes: Give each child a Nylon Jump Rope (RPST) and instruct them to place their rope on the ground in the shape of a “snake.” The snakes should all look different. When you say, “walk,” the children are to walk around without stepping on any of the rope snakes. Now add a variety of other locomotor movements as ways to travel around the snakes--tiptoe, run, jump, hop, gallop, skip, walk backwards.

10. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Take children outside and have them line up (shoulder to shoulder) facing you. Instruct children to clap and jump on the numbers in the rhyme and then act out the words. Do it in unison.

                        One, two...Buckle my shoe.
                        Three, four...Shut the door.
                        Five, six...Pick up sticks.
                        Seven, eight...Lay them straight.
                        Nine, ten...A big fat hen.

On the word “hen” let children run in a circle counting from one to ten. On ten, they must be back in place to start the rhyme again.