Getting Children Active: Early Years Outdoors Learning
playnotes May 2009 Early Years Outdoors Activity: Jelly beans This activity is based on actions that encourage a wide range of movements. It is important that the children understand what they are expected to do when the name of each kind of bean is called out. The age of the children will determine how quickly they remember the actions, but they can also copy the lead person who does the actions as they are called out. This is particularly important to help children with hearing impairment fully take part. ● Broad bean arms and legs wide apart ● Runner bean running on the spotGetting children active! ● Jumping bean jumping feet together from side to side ‘Children develop more rapidly, The importance of active play ● Chilli bean standing legs together physically, intellectually, According to Change4Life, nine out of 10 arms across each other, hands emotionally and socially during children today could grow up dangerously rubbing opposite arms to keep warm their early years than at any overweight, exposing themselves to time in their lives, and each ● Beans on toast curled up on the life-threatening diseases like cancer, type 2 ﬂoor, arms and legs tucked in aspect of this development is diabetes and heart disease. interdependent.’ ● Jelly bean moving body in a Physical activity, however, as well as Learning to move and moving to swaying movement from the head contributing to maintaining a healthy learn in the nursery years in The British down to look like a jelly wobbling weight can reduce these future risks, and Journal of Physical Education, vol18, no4, is also important for healthy growth ● Baked bean lying down ﬂat on Sutcliffe et al (1987) and development of the musculoskeletal your back as though you were and cardiorespiratory systems. sunbathingHow can you get every child active for at In addition, for younger childrenleast 60 minutes a day? This is the target especially, it also promotes the healthyrecommended by Change4Life, the social development of gross motor skills (co- How much is enough?marketing movement backed by the ordination, balance, movement etc). And In England, the National Institute forDepartment of Health that aims to help research has shown a positive correlation Clinical Excellence (NICE) states thatevery family in England eat well, move between physical activity and academic ‘the recommended 60 minutes may bemore and live longer. Similar initiatives achievement, as well as an improvement in achieved through several short bursts ofare running in Scotland and Wales. And children’s behaviour and the development activity of 10 minutes or more’.this year, as part of National School of social interaction skills. As ever, parents have a major role toGrounds Week, LTL is launching The big Above all, enjoying physical activity play, but early years settings can also doplay experiment! designed to get as many from a young age can help establish their bit to help. The outdoors, after all, ischildren as possible UK wide engaging in an enthusiasm for exercise that lasts the best place for children to play gamesmore physical activity by taking part in throughout childhood and into and experience physical play. Outdoorsenjoyable outdoor play. adulthood too. they can experiment, make noise, develop LEARNING THROUGH LANDSCAPES
playnotes • MAY 2009 Activity: Trafﬁc lights This activity is based on the three trafﬁc light colours: red, amber and green. Each colour called out determines what the children should be doing. ● Red standing still ● Amber running on the spot ● Green running around To play this game the children need to learn to listen to the person leading the activity while they are on the move. The lead person should stand in the centre of the outdoor space to help encourage the children to fully use all the space around them. To help the children know what instruction they are being given, coloured scarves or coloured cards could be held up at the same time as calling out the colour. This would be especially important if there were any children with hearing impairments in the group. Once the children are used to following instructions when the three trafﬁc light colours are called out, other features could be added into the acitvity to make it more challenging, such as: ● Roundabout must run round in a small circle ● Speed bump jump in the air before running onand reﬁne gross and ﬁne motor skills and based play – child-led and adult-led ● Reverse run backwardslearn to play together. – especially through the amount of space ● Trafﬁc jam run slowly This Playnotes looks at the experiences and freedom available. And by monitoring ● Road clear (used after trafﬁc jam) runyoung children need in active play, ideas provision, you can ensure the whole range around normallyon how to encourage active play and ﬁve of physical experiences children need to There are lots of possibilities and thefun adult-led activities to help get children develop are on offer, including: children might like to think of their ownon the move. Although devised to work ● balance – this is the central ideas to add.in conjunction with the National School component of movement andGrounds Week Early Years Outdoors fundamental to every action whetherposter (see ‘Further resources’), the advice moving or still, and includes poise andand activities recommended here can be stretch. Great resources include:introduced into your setting at anytime of a rope or chalk line on the ground; athe year. low wall; a swing for babies ● co-ordination – this is the ability toThe experiences children move different body parts at the sameneed in active play time to achieve some end, such asOutdoor provision is vital for ensuring co-ordination between the eyes andall children experience the pleasures and parts of the body. Great resourcesbeneﬁts of active play. It offers many include: a wide variety of objects toopportunities for physical, movement- roll, throw and catch; step ladder and Activity: Shapes and colours This activity can be played independently once the children have practiced it a few times. Draw and colour large shapes on the ground with chalk. Call out the shape or colour and ask the children to move to it accordingly. You could vary directions such as ‘walk slowly to the pink square’, ‘hop to the green circle’ or ‘crawl to the yellow triangle’. Numbers or letters could be used to add variety.GETTING CHILDREN ACTIVE!
playnotes • MAY 2009 strength (activity increases the density of bones); gross motor strength and ﬁne manipulative strength; being able to judge the selection of strength for the task. Great resources include: places for clambering up and jumping off; wheeled vehicles; things to ﬁll and carry, push and pull; places for babies to Activity: This is the way pull up to standing. Children love action rhymes and songs ● timing and movement ﬂuency so why not take them outside to perform (agility) – judging when to move on a larger scale? Sing the following and when to stop; moving at the right rhyme, with the children doing suitable time; making those ﬁne adjustments to actions. The tune is ‘Here we go round the achieve your aim; being able to follow mulberry bush’. one movement through with another. Great resources include: space to This is the way we walk to nursery, run; ropes to jump over; targets for walk to nursery, walk to nursery. throwing games; music to dance to; This is the way we walk to nursery obstacle course. on a bright and sunny morning. ● ﬂexibility – being able to move the The subsequent verses can have body easily to and through a range of different actions such as jumping, hopping positions. Great resources include: and skipping. The weather could also places to crawl into and through; be changed, for example ‘this is the way traversing wall; obstacle course; dance we splash to nursery on a wet and rainy music and props. morning’. Your role in encouraging active play Although equipment and resources play decorators’ brushes; instruments to hit; ● sense of space – awareness of spaces an important role in helping support active low surfaces for babies to cruise along. and objects, and being able to move in play (see ‘Further resources’) the adult’s● sense of body – this is the awareness those spaces by knowing where your role is vital too. Try to: of different parts of the body and body is in them. Being able to judge how far away something is (depth ● join children in their pleasure of ﬁnding where they are in relation to one perception) – and in what direction out what their body can do, pushing another or the rest of the body; how things are – links this to co-ordination. the limits of this and the satisfaction of they work together and where the Great resources include: a tunnel; mastery ‘edges’ of your body are. Great resources include: ﬂoaty scarves; tractor tyre climbing frame; bikes linked ● help children become aware of music; big pieces of cloth to wrap to role-play; steps and slope for toddlers how active play makes them feel, around body and to run with; blankets to go up and down. emotionally and physically for babies to lie on. ● strength – muscle tone and bone ● encourage children’s own explorationWhich activities do childrenlove best?Finding out which activities children lovethe most will help you plan your provision.At the same time you can encouragechildren to think about how active theyare, and make the link between activityand health. Children can:● vote for their favourite activity using, for example, tokens● explore the relationship between how they feel – how hot or out of breath they are – and how active they’ve been● talk about activity – for example, sequencing a typical day, from being in bed to walking to nursery etcMore ideas are available on theNational School Grounds Week Early YearsOutdoors poster (see ‘Further resources’). GETTING CHILDREN ACTIVE!