This Rope’s Not Just for Jumping!

The jump rope is one of the most inexpensive and versatile pieces of equipment your child or school can own. The jump rope has been neglected, made available primarily for girls, and has been used for a single purpose: jumping. The rope should be 7-8 feet in length and be flexible and pliable. With a little imagination and creativity, look at the rope and think of all the things you can do with it besides jumping.

Snakes: Two people hold each end of the rope and wiggle it by the feet of the children like it’s a snake. The object is that the kids have to jump over the “snake.”

Walking the Snake: Place a 16’ jump rope on the ground in a zigzag pattern. Invite the children to walk on the rope as if it were a tightrope. This simple activity builds a surprising number of skills! Eye-foot coordination…balance…taking turns…and more.

High Water – Low Water: Two people hold each end of the rope. Children take turns leaping over the rope. Increase the height after everyone has had a turn. Provide a mat for safe landings.

Wind the Clock: One person spins around while holding one end of the rope. The rope is swung around in a circle along the ground. Children jump over the rope as it nears their feet. The children usually chant a nursery rhyme like “Hickory Dickory Dock” or some other rhyme to make it more fun.

Jump the Brook: Two ropes placed on the ground in the shape of a “V” become the “brook.” The ropes touch at one end and are angled so that each jump across the brook is longer and becomes a bigger jump.

Rope Obstacle Course: Thread a rope between the slots or notches in the top of two cones for jumping over or crawling under. Make three circles with three ropes. Jump from one circle to the next. Lay a rope in a straight line that is to be followed or straddled. Place two ropes parallel to each other and one foot apart. This can be a path for walking, jogging, jumping or hopping.

All Aboard: Young children don’t really have the coordination to jump rope, but they can hang onto the rope with a bunch of their friends and pretend to be a train. Make your very own Wooden Train Whistle and with a “Choo! Choo!” children can move from place to place while having fun!

Make A Shape: Ask children to place their rope on the ground and make a circle. Call out directions for children to, “Jump into the circle. Turn around inside the circle. Jump out of the circle. Walk around the circle. Put your foot in the circle. Put your whole body over the circle.” After children know the game, move on to other shapes such as a triangle or square.

Remember, most of these activities can be accomplished using your homemade Bread Bag Jump Rope or even a thick piece of yarn.

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Nylon Jump Ropes (RPST or JMPRP16)
Angeles® Tumbling Mat (TMAT)
Obstacle Course Activity Set (OCSET)
Wooden Train Whistles (CHOO)
Jumbo Roving Yarn (ROVING)

Pair-a-Chute! Friends Playing Together

Celebrate love and friendship during the month of February by introducing the Pair-a-Chute (PAIRUP) to your children. Designed in favorite childhood colors, Pair-a-Chutes invite children of all ages to play. This new active play item is designed for children to play with a partner and at the same time practice such social skills as turn taking, sharing and cooperation.

See-Saw Pull – Ages: 3-5 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles with an overhand grip (palms down, fingers grasping the handle) while sitting down. The children pull the chute back and forth in a see-sawing motion. This is a good warm up and helps to strengthen shoulder, arm and hand muscles.

Up & Down – Ages: 3-5 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles at waist level with an overhand grip (palms down, fingers grasping the handle). When you say “up,” the children lift their arms above their heads. When you say “down,” the group lower their arms back to waist level. Continue until the children are able to move the Pair-a-Chute up and down smoothly. This is a good introductory game that helps children learn to work as a team.

How Many Times? –  Ages: 3-8 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles at waist level. Place one bean bag in the center of the chute. Following your signals, the children raise and lower the chute with the goal of tossing the bean bag in to the air as many times as possible before it flies off the Pair-a-Chute and lands on the ground. Each time the bean bag is tossed into the air, the children call out the number of times it has been tossed up. If the children are able to keep the bean bag up several times, add a second bean bag, then possibly a third.

Target Practice –  Ages: 3-8 years old
The size of the Pair-A-Chutes makes for a BIG target. Lay them on the ground and use them as targets for beanbag tossing (underhand–with hand swung below shoulder level) or hang them on a fence and use them as targets for beanbag throwing (overhand– hand raised above shoulder).

We Can Fly! – Ages: 3-5 years old
One Pair-a-Chute for each child. Instruct them to hold the chute with a hand in each of the handles on one of the short sides of the rectangular chute. Have them raise it above their heads and run into the wind. The chute will billow in the wind behind them like a giant kite.

Popcorn – Ages: 3-5 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles at waist level. Place 4 bean bags (popcorn kernels) in center of the chute. Children chant the following as they shake the pair-a-chute–

4 popcorn kernels sizzling in the pan. (shake chute slowly)
The pan got hot and all of them popped! (shake chute vigorously) 

When all the bean bags (popcorn kernels) pop off the chute, children retrieve them and do it again. In fact, they will want to repeat the game over and over again.

Toss & Catch – Ages: 4-8 years old
Two children hold Pair-a-Chute handles at waist level. One person (the tosser) tosses a bean bag toward the Pair-a-Chute. The children holding the chute work together to “catch” or receive the bean bag. The receivers return the bean bag to the tosser as they work together lifting and shaking the Pair-a-Chute.

Partners Toss & Catch – Ages: 4-8 years old
Use both Pair-a-Chutes and 4 children. Two children hold each Pair-a-Chute and stand 5 – 10 feet away from each other. One Pair-a-Chute team tosses a bean bag from their chute to the other Pair-a-Chute team’s chute. The object is for each team to propel the bean bag to the other team’s chute without it falling to the ground or floor. Challenge the teams to increase the distance between the Pair-a-Chutes. This is a great team-building activity as partners need to communicate the tossing and catching of the bean bag

Put Your Best Foot Forward in 2012

A study just published this month in “Pediatrics,” the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that kids spend about 70% to 83% of their time in child care being sedentary, not counting the time spent eating and napping. Only 2% to 3% of the time is spent in vigorous activities. Educators know vigorous activity is important to children. But they cited several barriers, including concerns about injuries, focus on academics and limited outdoor space and playground equipment. Research shows that children are more likely to be active if they are given time, space, freedom, and simple equipment (balls, hoops, and jump ropes). “Put your best foot forward” means to embark on a journey or task with purpose and gusto. Make a good start this year by planning and including physical activity outdoors and inside…while also meeting curriculum standards Be a great role model. Encourage and participate with children in physical activity. Adults demonstrate the importance of health and fitness through their actions as well as their words. Let’s get ‘em moving! Here’s how…

1. Go outside and play Shadow Tag: Instead of tagging bodies, the children step on each others’ shadows in this run and chase game.

2. Shadow Freeze: Play lively music and have children move in the open space. When the music stops, children must “freeze” their shadows. How long can they hold their shadows still? When the music starts again the children resume moving.

3. Shadow Dancing: Imitate each other’s movements. “Shadow Dancing Song” by Greg and Steve on “Kids in Motion” CD.

4. Shape Parade: Take your rhythm instruments outdoors and have a parade. Use appropriate marching music. Draw large shapes (circle, triangle, square, rectangle) with chalk on your outdoor surface. Have children march with instruments around each shape.

5. Create a unique movement path by placing Riverstones (AP6226J) or Activity Hoops on the ground. Pretend they are rocks in a river. Get from one side to the other without stepping in the river.

6. Go for a Wacky Walk: Place Movement Spots (arrows, shapes, hands and feet spots) on the ground outside. Make paths for children to go in straight lines, then zig-zag lines, then curvy lines, and then try walking backwards. Place the hands and feet spots in such a way to encourage children to walk like dogs or bears.

7. I Spy: Go outside and take turns saying, “I spy something ______” and then have the children run to that object

8. Include motor skill challenges during transition times. For example, “Let’s jump like frogs to circle time,” or “Please hop on one foot back to your seat.”
9. Snakes: Give each child a Nylon Jump Rope (RPST) and instruct them to place their rope on the ground in the shape of a “snake.” The snakes should all look different. When you say, “walk,” the children are to walk around without stepping on any of the rope snakes. Now add a variety of other locomotor movements as ways to travel around the snakes–tiptoe, run, jump, hop, gallop, skip, walk backwards.

10. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Take children outside and have them line up (shoulder to shoulder) facing you. Instruct children to clap and jump on the numbers in the rhyme and then act out the words. Do it in unison.

                        One, two…Buckle my shoe.
                        Three, four…Shut the door.
                        Five, six…Pick up sticks.
                        Seven, eight…Lay them straight.
                        Nine, ten…A big fat hen.

On the word “hen” let children run in a circle counting from one to ten. On ten, they must be back in place to start the rhyme again.

Alligator in the Swamp

Toddlers to preschoolers will enjoy letting their imaginations “run wild” as they take a trip over a bridge (carrying a baby doll, animal or other object) crossing a swamp where a hungry alligator lives. Children are to walk the beam and put the object they are holding into a basket at the other end of the beam. When crossing the “swamp” children chant, “I’m walking, I’m walking, I’m walking across the swamp. I hope that alligator doesn’t go chomp.” Explain that the alligator who lives in the swamp will not bother the children as long as they stay on the beam and don’t drop anything that they are carrying. If they do drop something or step off the beam, the alligator (you) will chase them until they deposit everything they are carrying in the basket. This is play with a purpose — promoting physical, cognitive and social emotional development. What fun…and learning!

Materials and Set Up:
1. Low Balance Beam (248) – a bridge over a swamp (floor) where a hungry alligator lives.
2. Variety of safe objects to carry—soft babies, plastic animals, beanbags, blocks, etc.
3. Basket or bucket placed at far end of balance beam.
4. Adult to role play alligator moving around in open space (swamp).

Lets Get Started:
1. Give child one object.
2. Ask child to walk (heel-toe) across the balance beam slowly carrying the soft object, chanting, “I’m walking, I’m walking, I’m walking across the swamp. I hope that alligator doesn’t go chomp.”
3. When child reaches end of the beam they are to toss or drop the object into the basket.
4. Explain to children that they should not step off the beam or drop anything into the swamp (floor) because the hungry alligator (adult with extended arms moving up and down like alligator’s jaws) will chase them until they put what they are carrying into the basket.

Furthermore:
1. Give children more things to carry each time they attempt to walk across the alligator swamp.
2. Ask children to carry beanbags balanced on their heads and shoulders.
3. Have children move across the balance beam using other modes of travel. Continue by interjecting other movements such as: “I’m swimming, I’m swimming, I’m swimming across the swamp. I hope that alligator doesn’t go chomp.” Can also do tip toeing, jumping etc.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:
1. Gross motor coordination—using the trunk and large muscles and limbs of the body—to walk with legs and hold and toss items with arms and hands. Gross motor movement is the predecessor to fine motor skills that are required for formal school work.
2. Dynamic Balance—being able to hold the position of the body when the body is moving—walking across the balance beam. Self-control is important for learning.
3. Eye hand coordination—eyes and hands working together to toss the beanbag into the basket. Eyes and hands need to work together in order to write.
4. Imagery—formation of mental images by memory, imagination or fancy—pretending to cross a bridge over a swamp inhabited by an alligator. Imagination is the precursor to intellectual development.
5. Self-confidence—faith in oneself and one’s own abilities—children can cross balance beam and deliver the object without dropping it.

Product Recommendations:
Balance Beam (248)
Step-A-Logs (STEPLOG)
Beanbags (MEGABEAN and CBB)
Plastic Animals (BABYFARM and BABYZOO)
Multicultural Velour Soft Babies (ALL4BY)
Soft Velour Blocks (VLRBLK)
Willow Baskets (WILLOW)

Round, Round, Round, Round…I Run Around

A ball is round and invites play with a partner or a group of friends. Let’s go outside, and play an active game that combines kicking a ball, as in soccer, and running around bases, as in baseball. No wonder kickball is sometimes called soccer-baseball.

Kickball for Little Kids

There are no outs or fouls in this preschool friendly game, just a lot of kicking and running.

Materials Needed:
Rubber playground ball
3 Bases and 1 Home Plate
10 Colored Cones

Set Up:
• Playing field – grass, dirt, asphalt or cement
• Place bases and home plate in the same general arrangement as you would a baseball diamond but make the base paths much closer to each other (i.e., 20 feet apart)
• 2 or more adults/play leaders
Let’s Get Started:
1. Gather children and have them watch and listen as directions of how to play are demonstrated.
2. An adult/play leader places the ball on home plate.
3. One child stands or approaches and kicks the ball as hard as he/she can.
4. Children who are not “kickers” can position themselves near the basesto catch the ball that is kicked into the playing field,
5. The “kicker” runs around the bases and returns to home plate.
6. The game continues until every child has had a turn or “runs out of breath.”
7. Every child is a winner when they cross home plate! Be assured that they will want to kick the ball and run the bases again and again. This is play with a purpose and promotes coordination and lots of vigorous physical activity!

Furthermore:
• As children become more skillful, the adult/play leader can roll the ball to the child at home plate and the child stands and kicks the ball that is rolled at them.

Recommended Products:
SETC – Colored Cones
BASES – Indoor/Outdoor Bases
PGSET – Playground Balls
KICKBALL – Kickball for all Ages
BALLKIT – Ultimate Ball Kit

Kids on Parade! Rhythm Stick Fun

Rhythm sticks or clave (klah-vey)—a Latin name for rhythm sticks—are indisputably one of the best first instruments for young children.

Rhythm sticks are members of the “percussion family” of instruments—which are musical instruments sounded by striking, shaking or scraping—and are tapped together to make a sound. Small percussion instruments are the most appropriate for children ages 2-7 and include the triangle, maracas, bells, tambourines, drums, cymbals and sand blocks.

Rhythm sticks are a natural extension of the sounds children make with their hands (clapping) and feet (stamping). Basic rhythmic concepts about beat, tempo and patterns are great for teaching to young children and can be experienced through a variety of fun activities, including playing rhythm sticks. When rhythm sticks are used in musical activities for young children, the process, rather than the product, is the important goal. Children thrive on the familiar; they enjoy the security of repetition and it’s an essential component for building basic skills and understanding.

It is important that rhythm sticks for the 2- and 3-year-olds be the appropriate size. Chunky Rhythm Sticks from Discount School Supply. are specifically made for little hands and fingers to easily grip and hold. This set includes 24 sticks or enough for 12 children with one for each hand.

Rhythm Stick Play: Objectives/Learning Outcomes
Playing and using rhythm sticks promotes and develops the following:

  • Small motor development—using the small muscles of the hands and fingers
  • Eye-hand coordination—eyes and hands working together smoothly
  • Dexterity—skill and ease in using hands
  • Eye tracking—eyes being able to follow an object as the object moves in space
  • Directionality—the inner sense and knowledge of where things are in relation to the body
  • Auditory discrimination—being able to hear and identify differences in sounds
  • Listening skills—ability to follow verbal directions
  • Coordination—parts of the body moving smoothly together
  • Rhythm—aspects of music having to do with time; patterns of sound perceived in relationship to a recurring beat
  • Beat—recurrent throb or pulse in music; important rhythmic skill to develop before the age of seven as the ability to keep a steady beat is linked to linguistic development
  • Tempo—the speed of music
  • Thinking processes—creative thinking and problem solving; develops memory (pattern and sequence)
  • Crossing the midline—occurs when left or right arms or legs cross over the center of one’s body and promotes communication between the brain hemispheres

Rhythm Stick Play: Rules
It is helpful to establish rules that will make the playing experience a happy and enjoyable one for both adults and children. As the teacher or leader of the activity, do not pass out the rhythm sticks until you have made clear what your expectations are regarding use of the rhythm sticks. The teacher or leader should demonstrate the activity first. If a child does not use his or her sticks properly or safely, an appropriate consequence might be to take them away for a short period of time, allowing that child to observe and rejoin when he/she feels able to follow the rules.
The following are some suggested rules and ideas for classroom and home activities using rhythm sticks:
1. Children sit cross-legged in a scattered or circle formation, ensuring that each child has his or her own personal space.
2. An adult or class helper is the keeper of the bin of sticks and walks around the group to allow each child to pick two sticks.
3. Rhythm sticks are passed out and children lay them on the ground in front of them and put their hands in their lap.
4. Upon teacher or leader instructions, or when the music starts, children can pick up their sticks and follow your lead.
5. When the music stops or the teacher says “freeze” and all activity ceases. If children are sitting, the sticks go back on the ground and hands go in their laps.
6. For organized clean up, an adult or class helper brings the bin around and instructs the children to put the rhythm sticks in the bin.

Rhythm Stick Play: Activity Idea
Pass out the rhythm sticks—, have children practice following a leader as they keep time to the music. Ask the children to stand up and get ready to march (a precise type of walk, accompanied by lifted knees and swinging arms) in the rhythm stick band! The teacher or a child can be the leader of the parade who marches in front, setting the direction and pace of the parade. Select a musical selection with a short, regular beat for a melodic and rhythmic background to accompany the sticks.