Skills: Children will develop gross-motor and listening skills.
- A parachute or large, flat sheet (queen-size works best)
- A battery-operated tape recorder
- A blank cassette
- A selection of instrumental music of different tempos and styles (try the ones listed below)
- Fabric paint (optional)
In Advance: Record about 30 minutes of instrumental music on cassette. Be sure to alternate fast and slow tempos and leave a few seconds between selections to give children time to adjust. Also, locate a safe, roomy, grassy area for different gross-motor activities.
- Gather outdoors together with your parachute or sheet, cassette player, and tape. Set the cassette player in a safe place.
- Spread out the parachute and invite everyone to sit around it. (It's best if adults are strategically placed to provide guidance and control.)
- Ask everyone to hold onto a piece of the parachute and stand up. Remind children they must hold on very tight. One adult can lead the activity and say, "Let's lift the parachute up. Lift it as high as you can!" Then, after it's up say, "Now let's bring it down to the ground."
- Repeat movements up and down using words to describe your actions. After children have had fun with this activity for a while, put on the cassette and begin to coordinate your movements to the rhythm of the music. Encourage children to bend at the waist and knees when they go "down" and to reach high and jump when they go "up."
For younger children: Have children practice raising their arms as high as they can and then lowering them to the ground before working with the parachute. Later, emphasize the words "up" and "down" as children try to raise and lower the parachute.
For older children: Have children experiment with different movements as they work with the parachute, including waving, flapping, and stretching the parachute or sheet.
Observations: Take note of which children seem to work well with others in a large group and those who may need some extra help in cooperative play. Which children look to their classmates to see how to raise and lower the parachute? Which children listen to your direction and easily maneuver the parachute up and down?
Remember: Allow children to move and express themselves freely.
Dirt Made My Lunch by The Banana Slug String Band
Yummy Yummy by The Wiggles