Tag Archives: gross motor activity

Summer 2017

Fall is definitely on its way – today is cool, wet, and dreary.  It has been a wonderful summer.  There were many things I meant to write about but never did – probably because I was playing outside.  Today I’m huddled in front of my computer, cat sleeping on my lap, waiting for one load of laundry to finish so I can start another.  Seems like the perfect time to write a quick summer recap.

In the yard we built a new composter and fire pit and added a gazing ball (lovely good-bye gift).

17-09-sum01

We had some old pieces of cribbing that I let the children paint;

17-09-sum03

They now arrange the pieces in various configurations for follow the leader games and other gross motor activities;

17-09-sum04

Sometimes they make teeter totters but so far I haven’t managed to get a picture of them doing that.  They often make benches too – even though we have eight ‘real’ benches in the yard they seem to like theirs better;

17-09-sum05

We went on a long (9 km) hike to the Forks and back.

17-09-sum06

Watching the boats, ducks, and geese was great but couldn’t beat this;

17-09-sum07

Standing on the path under the train bridge watching/listening to the train above;

17-09-sum08

That was pretty amazing.

With colder weather approaching I’ve turned my focus toward our somewhat neglected indoor play space.  Plans have been made and work will begin soon.  By Thanksgiving we should have a new – tiny house inspired – loft.  So excited!

Indoor Activity

Walk!

I am certain that if I recorded all the things I say to the children in a day and then tallied up how often I repeat phrases ‘walk’ would top the list.  A distant second would be ‘stop’ followed closely by ‘down’.  All my most common instructions pertain to redirecting activity level.

The list would of course be far different if I made separate lists for ‘outdoor’ phrases and ‘indoor’ phrases.  Only when we are indoors is there a need to restrict the children’s running, jumping and climbing.  It is not the activity that is wrong – it is the activity within a small, confined space with many other people.

Yet, children need to engage in gross motor activities.  During our long cold winters we do go outside every day but the length of time we spend outside is often not enough for the children to release all their pent up energy.  So, I try to provide alternate gross motor activities that are more appropriate for indoors.

When I removed the loft stairs the music area became larger – more room for dancing 🙂 Dancing is one of the children’s favourite forms of indoor active play and something they often initiate.  There are also some other features I incorporated in the room to encourage movement;

15-02-indoor00The step up to the nature area is a natural ‘speed bump’ and a great place to practice stepping – or jumping – up and down, on and off.  The pipes are mounted high at the entrance to the block area to encourage stretching to drop toys through the pipes and bending to enter the block area.  We do more bending and stretching by practicing yoga poses – another favourite activity that the children will often initiate.

Crawling is also encouraged – it is such a wonderful full body gross motor activity. It is generally much slower than other types of movement and because the children are down on the floor falling is rarely an issue.  The children will often crawl during dramatic play activities when they pretend to be various animals.  Sometimes we set up the tents and tunnels to promote even more crawling;

15-02-indoor02

Recently we’ve had the spinners out in the playroom.  These require an impressive amount of balance to remain upright as you stand and spin.  The younger children always use the spinners near a wall or shelf so they have something to hang on to as they spin in circles;

15-02-indoor01

Currently we have the foam hop scotch puzzle on the floor. The squares provide boundaries for hopping or jumping – the difference between hopping and jumping is described here.  Using the squares to define the hopping area provides a ‘safe’ zone for those who are not engaging in the activity – they can walk around the mat to avoid being involved in a collision.

15-02-indoors03

I may have to restrict some types of active play indoors because I don’t have an appropriate gym space but that doesn’t mean I have to eliminate it completely.  We still much prefer to be outdoors but when we’re stuck indoors we don’t have to remain sedentary.

Baby Steps

I know the phrase…“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”  I firmly believe that the children and I should be outside every day in all types of weather.  However, yesterday was one of those difficult days.

Sun, rain, snow, and slush.  Mother Nature just couldn’t make up her mind.  The worst part though was the temperature – not bitterly cold but definitely chilly.  A snow suit would have been far too warm but fall jackets were not really warm enough especially when they got wet.

It’s days like that when I take the children for a walk.  Certainly they would prefer to play in the yard but invariably at least one of them would roll around on the ground and get soaked and we would all have to come inside.  So, we walk.  We go outside and we keep moving.

Now, I face another obstacle – two toddlers.  Both the one-year-olds are capable of hiking around the block when they’re holding my hand.  The problem is that the older preschoolers find the toddler pace very slow.  With the toddlers tiny strides it takes about 40 minutes for us to get around the block – and the older children spend about 30 of those minutes just waiting for the toddlers and I  to catch up.

Some people might put the toddlers in a stroller or a wagon and head out for a longer walk – but I won’t.  We’re going for a walk, not a ride. Our outdoor time is the perfect opportunity for gross motor activities for all of us including the toddlers.

So, I started a game.  I instructed the older children to run ahead four sidewalk squares and turn around and run back to me.  It took a few tries for them to get the hang of it – we discovered that it was easier if they counted ‘lines’ (sidewalk cracks) instead of squares.

Then I increased the goal to ‘six lines’ ahead and then back to us.  The older children stomped on each line as they counted to six and then turned around and ran back.  Then they tried jumping from one line to the next before running back.  Sometimes they bent down and touched the line with their hands – so much exercise 🙂

One of the children asked if they could do ten squares next but first we tried just eight.  We all counted together as they passed each line before turning around to run back.  They came up with some interesting challenges like spinning around on each line.

Just past the half way point walk we increased the distance to ten sidewalk squares but only one of the preschoolers was still playing.  The other one was walking slowly with me and the toddlers – ‘too tired’ to keep playing the game.

One square city block on a cold and wet day and plenty of gross motor activity.