Over the years, as academic requirements have intensified to meet standardized test scores, early childhood education has beefed up its emphasis on reading, writing, and more. Unfortunately, for some early childhood education providers, this has meant a de-emphasis on movement. But taking movement out of a preschooler’s day actually inhibits academic progress. Plus, any parent can tell you that 3-5-year-old children need to move — a lot! Movement activities for preschoolers are not only fun, they’re necessary for your child’s development.
Benefits of Movement in Early Childhood Education
Focusing almost exclusively on academics during the preschool years actually misses the point! It’s possible — and actually essential — to focus on both physical development and mental development in preschoolers.
Physical activity in preschool is important, and its benefits can last far beyond preschool graduation. Preschoolers who get plenty of time to play and participate in physical activity enjoy:
- A healthier lifestyle, now and in the future
- Increased school readiness skills
- Stronger cognitive, social, and emotional skills
- Appropriate muscle, bone, and joint development
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- An increased learning capacity
- Greater self-confidence
- Better concentration
- Fewer chronic health problems
- Fewer sick days
- Increased memory skills
Not only that, but interactive games give your child a leg up on social interaction and communication skills. Kids learn to problem-solve while also learning important things like counting and colors.
Children simply do better when they are allowed to move. Early childhood curriculum that incorporates movement sets your child up for a better future.
Movement Activities for Preschoolers
When you want to bring movement activities home for your preschooler, you don’t have to do anything elaborate. In fact, young children learn at a very basic and fundamental level, so activities are often better when they are simple. Use these simple movement activities for preschoolers in your home.
Music and Movement
Children love music, and generally respond very well to it. Ask your child to listen to the different rhythms and tell you what he hears. Ask him to clap his hands, jump up and down, or tap his head to the beat. Let him get in on the music creation by giving him empty oatmeal boxes to use as drums and empty paper towel rolls to use as “trumpets.” Add bells to shoelaces or belt loops and dance around the living room.
Beach Ball Balance
Give a beach ball to two or more children and have them hold the ball between them — without using their hands! See how creative they can get when they’re left with shoulders, heads, backs, and tummies for holding a beach ball.
In this fun jumping game from The Inspired Treehouse, work on coordination, gross motor skills, balance, and more as your child gets to pretend to be different jumping animals. (For full instructions visit the link.)
Get Up & Move Dice Game
Make two giant dice out of boxes. On one, write action words like “jump, climb, run.” On the other, write direction words like “in a circle, like a monkey, forward.” Throw the dice and do what they instruct. (“Jump like a monkey.”)This will get you moving too! For full instructions, visit Growing a Jeweled Rose.
Who knows when the hot lava game originated, but chances are you (and everyone you know) grew up pretending the floor was hot lava. The preschool age is a great time to introduce this classic game. Make it more interesting by using paper plates as jumping points.
Flash Light Treasure Hunt
Hide a few of your child’s favorite toys around the house (or just in one room), turn off all the lights, and send her off to find her items with the flashlight! Hide a fun snack to enjoy together too.
Floor Tape Activities
- Make a tight rope by laying tape down on your carpet. Teach your preschooler to walk across it without falling off, and if he does — the tickle monster gets him!
- Lay down an indoor hop scotch with tape.
- Put tape all throughout your house for a road. Your preschooler can be the car and run along the tape, or she can get down and drive her cars all around the house.
Note: Don’t leave the tape on your carpet for too long, as it can become hard to pull up once it’s been walked on for several days.
Your mom told you not to throw balls in the house (and she was right), but you can still play “basketball” inside with your preschooler by wadding up newspaper for basketballs and using a pot, laundry basket, or clean bin for the hoop.
Yep. Seriously Give your preschooler a broom, mop, rake, or dust rag and get to cleaning together. It’s all in the attitude — if you act like this is a fun game (“Let’s see if we can sweep the kitchen before the song ends!”), your preschooler will pitch in with glee.
At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Salt Lake City, we know children get the full benefit of learning when we incorporate movement into our lessons. That’s why we provide a dance/movement class taught by a trained instructor who gives lessons that correlate with our weekly preschool themes. Send us a message, or call us at (801) 523-5930 for a tour.