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101 Ways to Get Toddlers Moving (Part 2)

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The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) wants to get your preschooler moving! It's never to early for kids to start exploring and discovering -- which will help them acquire motor skills and increase their physical activity. Check out the rest of the tips, which were collected by early-childhood experts.

kids playing

Provide Instruction during Structured Play

51. Start with the basics: personal space, direction (e.g., forward, backward, sideways) and speed.
52. Introduce pathways (e.g., straight, zigzag, circular) and levels (e.g., low, medium, high).
53. Ask children to make various shapes (e.g., wide, long, curled, twisted) with their bodies.
54. Have children mimic moving objects, such as a kite, car or butterfly.
55. Play simple songs for children to help them perform creative movement.
56. Use movement-exploration techniques, such as "How can you move from here to there?" and "Show me all the ways that you can move the ball."
57. Teach and practice basic movement skills, such as walking, marching, jumping, hopping, galloping and sliding.
58. Present non-locomotor movements, such as bending, reaching, stretching and swaying.
59. Circulate among the children to provide feedback and encouragement.
60. Provide positive comments before corrective feedback.
61. Give very specific feedback (e.g., "Remember that hopping uses only one foot," instead of "Remember to hop and not jump").
62. Join in and play with the children periodically. Share in their joy for play.

Integrate Physical Activity into the Curriculum

63. Use movement vocabulary, such as "balance," "sideways," "low-level" and "curved pathway."
64. On the class word wall, list the names of skills and concepts that children have practiced.
65. Teach the proper names of body parts when children use them to move.
66. Introduce some basic body organs and functions that relate to movement, (e.g., heart, lungs, muscles, bones).
67. Use colors, letters and numbers during movement activities and games.
68. Read action books aloud so that children can move to the words in a variety of creative ways.
69. Ask the children to draw pictures of people moving and playing.
70. Lead the children in performing cultural dances, such as the Mexican Hat Dance.
71. Include motor-skill challenges during transition times (e.g., "Please hop back to your seat").

Be Reflective and Flexible

72. After each lesson, ask yourself what did and didn't go well, and why.
73. Make notes about different strategies and/or activities to try the next time.
74. Ask the children what they enjoyed most and least, and why.
75. List newly learned games so that students can select an activity by name at a future time.
76. To the extent possible, provide children with physical-activity choices.
77. Adjust game play to safely fit into larger and smaller spaces.
78. Modify rules to simplify a game and make it age-appropriate.
79. Change elimination games to inclusion games to keep all kids active. (For example, instead of "Tag -- you're out," play freeze tag, in which players "unfreeze" frozen players.)

Talk About and Practice Healthy Eating

80. Teach children about the need to drink water for proper hydration.
81. Explain how some foods provide energy for movement.
82. Require handwashing before meals and snacks.
83. Model and expect good table manners.
84. Provide food-tasting opportunities. (This can be a family event, too.)

Involve Parents and Families

85. Remind parents that children should come to school with proper outdoor clothing (e.g., heavy jacket, hat, gloves) so that they can play outside even in cool weather.
86. Organize a child-parent outdoor family-fitness walk.
87. Send home tips and ideas for physical activity and healthy eating. The Head Start Body Start early-childhood physical activity monthly calendar (www.headstartbodystart.org) is one tool.
88. Inform parents that research shows that children are most active when outside.
89. Remind parents that children can increase their levels of vitamin D by playing outdoors.
90. Encourage parents to be physically active role models and select family activities that involve physical activity, such as walking, bike-riding and playing catch.
91. Help parents identify free community venues for physical activity, such as parks and walking/biking trails.
92. Remind parents to incorporate activity into their family vacations (e.g., hiking in the mountains; swimming in a lake or ocean).
93. Make physical activity the focus of warm-weather birthday parties (e.g., running through the sprinkler, playing hide-and-seek, holding an outdoor scavenger hunt).

Employ Existing Resources

94. Check out the Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play at HeadStartBodyStart.org.
95. Visit the National Association for Sport and Physical Education at www.naspeinfo.org.
96. Find information from the U.S.A. affiliate of the International Play Association at IPAUSA.org.
97. Get resources from PE Central, PECentral.org.
98. Join the physically active lifestyle award program at the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition at Fitness.gov.
99. Visit www.naeyc.org for early-childhood resources.
100. Obtain teaching tools from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Team Nutrition website, FNSUSDA.gov/TN.
101. Leave children smiling and wanting more!

For more free resources to help keep your kids healthy, go to AAHperd.org/NASPE!


next: 101 Ways to Get Toddlers Moving
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