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March 3, 2014

When It’s Too Cold To Play Outside…

With frigid temperatures and harsh winds, Mother Nature has made it difficult to get outdoors lately. To avoid ‘cabin fever’ and lots of excess energy, it’s important to build extra opportunities for gross-motor activities into every day. In addition to scheduled fitness activities (like Tae Kwon Do and Doodle Dance), teachers can plan movement activities for circle time, for transitions, during Happy Hour, and whenever friends are feeling wiggly.1897915_10152027415136220_939675273_n

These simple suggestions are geared for preschoolers, but can be easily adapted for children of all ages and abilities. Enjoy!

  • Feather Dance: Give each child a feather to dance with. While the music plays, they have to keep the feather in the air by blowing it. After a few minutes, throw the whole bag of feathers in the air, and allow the children to run around gathering up their own little bunches. For clean up, just assign each child a color to pick up.
  • Clowning Around: You’ll need a roll of masking tape, beanbags, hula hoops, a broom and some music for these games.
  1. Walk the tightrope – run a wide strip of tape across the floor for a tightrope. Challenge the children to walk it without losing their balance, then add various challenges, such as jumping, hopping on one foot, hula-hooping, or balancing a beanbag on their heads.
  2. Limbo – how low can you go? Move the broom (or a comparable object) lower and lower until the children have to lie on the floor to get under it!
  3. Clown Cars – spread hula hoops all over the floor to represent clown cars, play some music, then challenge everyone to fit inside the hoops when the music stops. Remove one hoop each round, challenging everyone to cooperate and ultimately fit “in” one hoop.
  • Travel Time: Explain that your class is going on a trip together, using many different vehicles. Start your trip on bicycles – show the children how to lie on their backs and pedal with their legs. While everyone is pedaling, ask the children to decide where they want to go. Make the sound of a train, then have the children jump off their bikes and hop on the train. Form one long train by having the children line up and place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them – travel around the room. When the children tire of the train, toot the whistle and say “All out for (destination)!” For the return trip, recommend that they take a plane to make the trip short. After they have zoomed around the room, let the children circle the airfield, lower their landing gear, and take turns landing the runway.
  • Obstacle Course: Have the children help you design and create an obstacle course. Suggested stations include: limbo, crawl through the tunnel, make a basket in the net, hula hoop for 10 seconds, do 10 jumping jacks, etc.

Don’t underestimate the power of a quick “boogie break” either; whenever you see that friends need to get moving, put on some music, then drop everything and dance! Whether you do the Hokey Pokey or the Harlem Shuffle, smiles and laughter are guaranteed. Have fun – and remember to get outside each and every time that Mother Nature cooperates, too!


Contributed by Christina Fecio, Director of Education and Training