12 ways to bring Outdoor Play Inside
As winter sets in, it’s often not possible to make full use of outdoor spaces at childcare centres. Yet the challenge remains to keep children active whatever the weather. Physical activity is important for children’s cardiovascular fitness, building stronger muscles, motor skill development and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s also fun, develops social skills and promotes good sleep.
The Department of Health recommends that toddlers and pre-schoolers should spend at least 180 minutes a day doing a variety of physical activities. Within this time, pre-schoolers, in particular, should have at least 60 minutes of energetic play such as running, jumping, kicking and throwing, spread throughout the day.
Of course, if we’re enjoying a fine Australian winter’s day, it’s fun to rug up and get outside in the fresh air. But how can you satisfy those little faces at the window on a cold rainy day? STEP Learning Resources has ideas to keep children happy and active inside during the winter months (or even a wet summer’s day!).
- Dancing to music is fun for all ages. Make up a new dance and encourage the children to contribute to the choreography.
- Imaginative play can provide a great work-out. Dress up as a high-energy character such as a Super Hero and act out scenes from a book.
- Challenge the children to keep moving for a set amount of time without walking. Hopping, jumping, crawling and rolling are all options. Add some stilts or jumping sacks to your play resources for even more fun. Chapa Chap Stilts encourage balance, and are made in a fun foot-shaped design. Bright coloured, durable Jumping Sacks will develop balance and gross motor skills as well as getting the heart pumping!
- Build a fort in each age-room, hiding resources around the centre for the children to find and use.
- Create an indoor treasure hunt. Use picture clues for toddlers and rhyming clues for pre-schoolers.
- Make an indoor bowling arena using empty plastic bottles and soft balls. You can also buy a set of Giant Outdoor Skittles that can be used inside and taken outdoors when the weather brightens up. Outdoor Quoits are also versatile indoor-outdoor resources.
- Make a path using coloured sticky tape – children can walk along the strips like a balance beam and jump between different colours.
- Get the children to bring in a pair of socks for Sock Basketball. Position a bowl on a shelf and see how many socks they can get in the bowl.
- Ask a group of children to hold a bed sheet in the air (level with their faces). Put a stuffed toy on top. One team tries to shake the toy off the sheet, while the other team attempts to keep the toy in place.
- Hours of fun are possible with balloons – race with a balloon between your legs, play indoor volleyball, catch a balloon in a bucket, bounce a balloon… endless fun.
- Build an obstacle course. Use chairs, tables, cushions, towels – just about anything will do! STEP Learning Resources even has a Rock Wall Climber for the adventurous kids!
- As well as energetic play, keep the children exposed to nature by using natural products during art and craft time, such as leaves and sticks.
There are many ways to help children stay active in the cooler months. You can use your imagination and items already available in your childcare centre. If you’re looking for additional resources for both indoor and outdoor play, visit www.step4.com.au
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