Wriggle, fidget, dance, and spin. In fact, one of the hardest things for a young child to do is to not move for more than a few seconds. That's why a good early childhood curriculum builds in plenty of opportunities for children to move around while they explore the abilities of their developing bodies. Thanks to a new generation of digital gadgetry, there are new ways for you to combine children's large-motor explorations with cognitive development. Here are some ideas:
No-Fail Musical Chairs
Put the carpet squares in a circle — one per child — with one clearly marked as the "target." Start the music and ask children to move from square to square. When the music stops, the child that lands on the target gets to choose the next movement style: arms flapping like a bird, hopping like a rabbit, and so on. If you play a musical instrument or have a wide selection of music on hand, play something that matches the style — a slow, plodding tune for an elephant or a light and fast one for a bird.
Set up a projector or powerful flashlight in front of a screen or hanging white sheet. Ask children to take turns illustrating different types of animal movement with shadows, without telling their classmates what animal they are imitating. Allow the class to try and guess what animal is being portrayed.
Watch Me Grow — With a Digital Camera!
When you take the children's pictures at the start of the year, make sure you have a yardstick or measuring tape behind them. Every month or so, take another picture. Keep the photos on a bulletin board titled, "See How I've Grown."
Electronic Mirror Art
Plug your camera directly into your TV set, or, better yet, project the image on a large wall or screen with a computer projector. Set the camera to realtime recording mode (so what is seen in the viewfinder is also displayed on the TV). You'll notice that the children love moving to see how they look on the screen. Channel their energy by providing different props, such as hoops to spin or colorful silk scarves, while playing various speeds and styles of background music. As you watch the children, ask them to imitate one another, and label their actions ("Jimmy's moving like a cat!").