Preschoolers at Play
Having taught a movement class to preschoolers in the lobby of a daycare I promise you do not need a football field to entertain a group of little ones. My favorite activity of all time is still a Dance Party. Little ones love to move their bodies and are totally uninhibited so turn on the tunes and dance with them. It's invigorating! (and a great workout)
Simon Says is another great game for limited space and the sillier you get the better. Simon Says hop on one foot with your finger in your ear- jump up and down and wave your hands- jog in place with your hand behind your back- or better yet Simon Says sit silently for 30 seconds. Simon Says lay down and kick your feet in the air. Simon Says Do Disco-country line dancing-the ChaCha-Ballet!
Mother May I - which we played outside as a kid is totally adaptable (it is similar to What Time is it Mr. Fox but without the running). Have the kids stand at one end of the room lined up. They can take turns saying "Mother May I...take four baby steps?" and Mother says "Yes" or "No, you may take two baby steps." They could take giant steps, baby steps, normal steps, or hops.
Another cool game to play with 3-5 year-olds is called Back to Back. The idea is that you pair children up and give them body parts to touch together. So you call out Back to Back. Easy enough right? Try elbow to elbow, knee to knee, feet to feet - want to keep playing? Try elbow to knee or elbow to cheek or hands to back.
Cranium makes a great game called Hullabaloo that it great to play in the living room, basement, or the class room.
Set up an obstacle course with stuff you already have. Stuffed animals to jump over, rolled up towels as a plyo ladder, hula hoops, pool noodles, crawl under a table, line up the dining room chairs then make them sit in each one. Make stations where they have to jump 10 times, or do jumping jacks, hop on one foot, or touch their toes. This is the time to bust out old school calisthenics.
Create a treasure hunt with lunch at the other end. The clues could be as simple as look where we hang up our coats, brush our teeth, wash the dog. I like to make them go from the top floor to the basement - up and down the stairs as often as possible. If this is at school or you can not go up and down maybe make it a combo Obstacle course/Treasure hunt.
Get out the Sidewalk chalk!
There is so much you can do besides drawing butterflies and robots, although that is good too. Old school Hopscotch or Ultimate Hopscotch. (My kids once got to 99 boxes it was really fun!) Preschooler's are trying to master gross motor skills those large muscle groups for running, throwing, kicking, skipping, etc. Developing those skills will help later on in school with fine motor skills needed for writing, cutting, and drawing.
Make a target on the ground and throw bean bags, water balloons, or pebbles and add up your score. Have a long jump contest. Play four square. Draw the activity to do on the ground along the walk and when you get to it everyone has to do it before moving on or just draw animals and then act them out. Elephants, giraffes, monkeys, snakes fish, turtles, snails, butterflies, birds, dogs, cats I can keep going, can all be acted out.
Want to skip the chalk? Take a flashlight walk or Ninja hike after dark. But there is also Glow in the dark sidewalk chalk.
Stage a Pre-schoolympics. Have different balls, sports objects, or stations. For little ones there is no need to throw a regulation baseball - save that for later- throw scarves or bean bags. Playground or soft sided balls work for a variety of sports activities like kicking, tossing, catching, and throwing. Make a start and finish line and sprint, hop, gallop, tippy toe back and forth then practice skipping. This is a skill most children will not master until they are 5-6 years-old but they can still try.
Find a dollar store and ten bucks. Buy some pool noodles to hop over, a hula hoop, a jump rope, chalk, balloons, Frisbee, and small soft balls. Sometimes they have plastic outdoor games like ring toss or a golf set. All of these are good to have on hand for obstacle courses or just to let children explore. Don't be so concerned with the rules of the game and playing it correctly maybe they will come up with a great new game of hulatoss golfing. The object is to get outside, explore, and play.
What are you waiting for? GO!