Winter time large motor play for the preschool classroom

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Ways to get your kids moving indoors and enhance gross motor development

In the winter time, we have a lot of requests for indoor games and large motor activities.  While we try to get outdoors, even for a small amount of time each and everyday, Midwest winters can be frigid forcing our time outside to be limited.  For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite ways to get kids up and moving in the classroom…


Benefits of Large Motor Play

Large motor activities should be a vital part of any early childhood program.  Large motor play helps children burn off excess energy, enabling them to focus better in the classroom.  There are also opportunities for building social skills when children work and play cooperatively in games.  When children play large group games together, they are working on taking turns and sharing with one another.  They are also working on developing friendships…

One thing you should know before I begin is that we have very limited space in our classroom.  We do not have a gym or separate room even, in which we can play.  Though we may be limited on space, creativity abounds and we try to make the very most of what space we do have.  Keep in mind that even in a small space you can still plan large motor activities that target the following skills:  balance, walking on a line, skipping, hopping or alternating on one foot, and jumping.  In larger spaces, children may be able to work on running, climbing, and throwing balls…

Music and Movement

One of the easiest ways to get children moving is through music!  Songs like “Bluebird, bluebird through my window” and  “Sally goes round the sun” encourage children to dance and move together as a large group…

If you are looking for something a little less structured or a chance to be just plain silly, throw on some funky children’s music and let the children get down!  Greg and Steve’s “Listen and Move” and The Freeze” are favorites in our class…

Group Movement Games

And don’t forget about classic movement games like Duck, Duck, Goose and Musical Chairs…

If you run out of inspiration for large group movement games, make up your own.  Make a simple DIY action cube that encourages children to get moving!  Your action cubes can have pictures, symbols, or words on them…

Another easy way to make a new game is by getting creative with masking tape!  Create different lines, grids, or patterns on the floor for fun movement games.  Keep in mind that games can be super simple with few rules, if any at all.  Leave the tape on the floor for the whole day and see if it inspires the children to create their own games…

Exploring Movement Activities with Books

Also look for opportunities to tie in your large motor activities with your theme units or children’s books that you are reading in class.  The more invested children are in a particular theme, the more likely they are to be active participants.  We used sticky paper for this large scale movement game that we created for a Pete the Cat theme day…

Get Creative!

Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.  Don’t be afraid to completely rearrange your room to accommodate some much needed exercise!  If you have the equipment to do so, bring out mats, hula hoops, or cones to create an awesome obstacle course.  Use what you have, and make the most of it, even if it means making a mess…

Have fun!

If the weather outside is frightful, bring a little bit of the delightful inside.  Join your children in a rousing indoor snowball fight.  One suggestion though: wait till the end of the day or maybe even the end of the week.  The children will have so much fun that they will request a snowball fight everyday…

When all else fails, just count to five and exercise!   A few simple exercises or stretches, done in repetitions of five, can completely wake up sleepy children (and teachers too) and turn grumpy moods into happy ones to last the day through…

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Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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