Let's Get Physical

Monday, August 13, 2018

Kids need plenty of active play all year round, even when it’s cold and grey outside.

It’s cold and dark outside, the wind is blowing and the ground is wet and muddy. You’ve braved the elements to get to Playgroup, and all everyone wants to do is enjoy the cosy indoors. Everyone, that is, except the bustling, noisy, high-energy movers of the group. It’s important to get those noisy bodies moving outside.

There is a mounting body of evidence suggesting that children and young people are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, the size of Australian backyards is decreasing and screen time for children and young people is on the rise.

According to the 2014 Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People, less than half of our children and young people are not getting enough exercise.

The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommends that children aged two to four years should participate in at least 180 minutes of physical activity each day.

For some families, Playgroup might be the only time their kids can access any form of physical play. It’s important to schedule some high-energy, big movement play time into the session, particularly outdoors when the weather permits.

The benefits of outdoor play include good health, better self confidence and social skills, movement, balance, coordination, reaction time, better motor skills, increased mental awareness and weight management.

So, if it’s cold and dark, rug up. Throw on that jacket, pull on those gumboots and explore the outdoors. If you’re on the go outside, you’ll be surprised how quickly you warm up. A quick 30 minutes outside can provide children with many benefits for the day. If going outside is impossible, provide some big movement activities inside, such as an obstacle course made from furniture, action songs and rhymes, encouraging dance movements such as skipping and leaping at different heights and speeds. Here are some play items for pre-schoolers to encourage active play:

• Boxes, crates, tubes and containers;
• Balls of different sizes, colour and texture, including balloons;
• Skipping ropes, scarves and fabric strips;
• Buckets, spades, paintbrushes and sweeping brushes;
• Pots and pans;
• Leaves and pine cones; and
• Mats, cushions, beanbags and tyres.

• Make an obstacle course made from everyday objects. Try pillows and cushions to climb over, limbo using a parent-controlled broom handle, chair legs to tunnel under;
• Play balance games. Place a skipping rope on the ground and practice walking on it, carrying a bell or cup or water for an extra challenge;
• Play pass or toss the bean bag;
• Choose a partner for songs and games such as Row, row, row your boat;
• Tie short lengths of rope around soft toys (as a lead) and take the toys for a planned walk; and
• Lay out a long roll of paper and let children paint it with their feet. This is a really fun, messy, sensory experience for young children.

• Use furniture and toys to define set play areas;
• Label play areas for parents, such as Baby Safe Play Area;
• Allocate a ‘safe space’ for babies to explore without risk of injury;
• Establish a caring culture where children are encouraged to be respectful of each other, the equipment and the room; and
• Establish ‘turn taking’ guidelines.

If you would like to know more about how to incorporate physical play into your playgroup routine, please contact Playgroup SA on freecall 1800 171 882.