Keep it moving in childcare: Activity across the curriculum
Physical activity is an important part of any childcare program. Understanding children’s developmental stages will help to make sure that activities are designed to best fit the ability of the children in your care.
Increasing physical activity in school and childcare has become a hot topic in the last few years. The more students move, the better they feel. Children are also able to concentrate on activities for longer periods of time if they are able to “get the wiggles out.” Michigan State University Extension has several articles that promote physical activity for children of all ages.
Some things to remember when implementing more physical activity in the classroom are to make sure that children are safe, both physically and emotionally. The activities may not be easy for everyone, and if someone makes a mistake or falls, it is important that they are encouraged to try again, not made fun of or laughed at by others. Having different modifications of activities can help those who may not be as physically fit as others, so they are still able to do the activity. Physical safety is also important. Make sure that the area where children are to perform the activity is free from obstacles, furniture or objects that could hurt someone. Also be sure that the children have enough space so they do not run into one another.
Directions must be clear and concise and repetition is important. Creating some sort of signal can be helpful so that when children see it, they have to freeze and listen for the directions. This can help to stop inappropriate behaviors right away. Prevention is the key to successful activities with young children, so make sure they understand your expectations right at the beginning of the activity. Expect them to succeed, and remember each child’s success may not look the same as another’s.
As with any other activity and desired behavior it is important to be a good role model. Show your excitement for the activity, being physically active and encourage children to do the same. Children learn by example. Sometimes new physical activity can be awkward for children, especially as they get older and are more prone to becoming embarrassed. Make sure that the environment stays relaxed and students will be more willing to participate.
Implementing physical activity across the curriculum can help engage children in activities more deeply than sitting at a table or in a circle. Some ways to use activity across the curriculum:
Art: Ask children to show pictures they have created to the class and “act out” their picture.
Language Arts: “Act out” stories, poems, words (slither, crawl, under, over, pounce, stomp…).
Math: Use different heights, shapes, pictures that demonstrate big and little, long and short, high and low, wide and narrow. Count when balancing and count steps to get somewhere, or count people.
Music: Use different movements for different types of music. Dancing, dramatic play to the music, dance up and down to the pitch of the music, movement to the words.
Listed below are some great resources with more ideas to increase physical activity in the classroom and childcare setting. Always remember that physical activity can be fun and rewarding when incorporated throughout the day.