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Physical Development: Developing Physical Skills Through Scarves, Chutes, & Hoops

Exciting yet simple equipment helps children build motor skills and adds a large dose of joy.

  • Grades: Early Childhood, Infant, PreK–K, 1–2
For Children With Special Needs

Children with physical challenges will enjoy throwing scarves-either loose or tied into "scarf balls"-into hula hoops placed along a curving path or spread out in an array. For example, placing three hoops across the bottom row, two in the next, and one on the top row gives varied targets for throwing the scarves and scoring points. Dividing a parachute into "pie pieces" with marker lines starting at the center and going to the edge allows children of all abilities to play games where they march or roll to the music and stop within a "pie piece." The "pie pieces" can be numbered or tagged with colored dots to practice number and color recognition.

WHETHER YOU HAVE A LITLE ROOM OR A LOT OF ROOM, you can use scarves, parachutes, and hoops to add zest to your physical-development program. And whether your space is indoors or out, these versatile items will be a hit with children.

Peek-a-Boo With Infants

Infants will enjoy scarves used as "peek-a-boo" curtains. Get scarves that are of the "see-through" variety for infants, as they will feel more at ease during the peek-a-boo game. Hide items under the scarves for infants to find and remove. Tie scarves around the hula-hoops and encourage infants to reach and stretch for them as you slowly turn the hoops around. Place the parachute on the floor or out on the grass as a "crawling space"- the silky feel of the 'chute and the varied colors can create a new crawling dynamic.

Scarf Toss for Toddlers

Encourage toddlers to toss scarves up in the air and then run under them and catch them. If they have difficulty getting the scarves to "float and flutter," toss the scarves up for them and let them catch them as they float down. Hoops and scarves can be combined as children dance inside the hoop with it lying on the ground and spin and twirl to lively music. Tie a "scarf ball," leaving some of the scarf ends loose so children can catch the ball by the dangling ends and throw it through a hoop hanging from the ceiling or from a low branch outside.

Hoop Play With Preschoolers

Preschoolers will enjoy the challenge of throwing individual scarves into hoops placed on the floor or ground. Since scarves don't "go straight," children will develop unique ways of getting the scarves to land inside the hoops. Invite three preschoolers to hold onto a single hoop and try to run under and catch a cascade of scarves that you have tossed into the air. Place a hula-- hoop on the floor at one end of a table and ask children to "race" scarves along by blowing them the length of the table into the hoop.

Kindergartners Hit the Bullseye!

Spread out the parachute on the ground and invite kindergartners to turn the hula hoops over their heads like circular jump ropes as they go around the outside edge of the parachute. You might also try dividing the parachute into concentric circles starting from the outside edge and going to the center, where you place a "bull's-eye." Use a marker to draw lines on the parachute. Ask children to stand at the outside edge of the parachute and throw their scarves as far in toward the center of the parachute as possible. Score points for each band (circle), with the outside bands having a lower point value than the inner bands.

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  • Subjects:
    Athletic Programs and Coaching, Motor Skills, Special Education, Physical Development, Physical Disabilities, New Teacher Resources, Teacher Tips and Strategies
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