Physical Development: Physical Play, All Day

By Francis Wardle PhD
  • Grades: PreK–K

Make the Most of Movement

  • Materials and activities should engage children in positive ways so that they develop a healthy attitude toward exercise. Avoid competitive games and skill drills.
  • Integrate physical development into the overall curriculum. Almost every area can be enhanced through movement activities.
  • View physical development as an important goal in itself rather than simply a way for kids to let off steam.

Throw, climb, build, paint, and dance! What's the best way to support children's physical growth? Lots of movement, all day long.

FROM THE PLAYGROUND to the art area, children develop motor skills as they have fun with a variety of classic early childhood materials and equipment.

Balls. Large balls for toddlers and a variety of sizes for older children develop eye-hand coordination, throwing and catching skills, eye-foot coordination, arm and hand strength, and agility.

Climbers, Ladders, and Bridges. Outdoor climbing equipment is one of the best ways to encourage children's physical development. And if you have adequate fall zones and enough space for children to run around without bumping into each other, it's also one of the safest. Climbing up ladders, running over bridges, crawling through tunnels, and swinging on overhead rings develop upper and lower body strength. There is also good climbing equipment designed for toddlers just learning to walk.

Paints and Brushes. Using large and small paintbrushes helps children develop upper body coordination, fine-motor skills, muscle control, eye-hand coordination, and basic writing skills.

Tapes, Records, and Musical Instruments. Dance and creative movement activities develop total body coordination. Using instruments helps children develop gross- and fine-motor skills-and it's a lot of fun!

Tricycles. Using a tricycle develops balance, eye-hand coordination, foot and leg strength, and overall body awareness. To maximize physical development, you need to have safe and sturdy trikes and lots of paths with inclines, declines, and textured surfaces. It's also important to have enough trikes to go around!

Wooden Blocks. Unit and hollow blocks are excellent materials to develop arm, hand, back, and leg strength. Even finger-grasping is developed as children pick up and release the blocks.

  • Subjects:
    Outdoor Activities and Recreation, Physical Development
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