Thursday, November 14, 2013

5 Great Preschool Outdoor Activities

As anyone who has looked after preschool children for any length of time knows, preschoolers have lots of energy, and the best place to burn off that energy, and - more importantly - to socialise, exercise, get fresh air and have loads of fun - is outdoors. Any preschool facility must have adequate outdoor facilities and space for children to run about, muck about and kick up their heels, but space is not enough. Carefully selected organised activities are a key to ensuring that children's precious outdoor play time is productive, healthful, safe, engaging and educational.Here is a list of 5 unusual but excellent outdoor activities - to incorporate into your preschool programme:1 Water bottle kick-bowlingYou'll need: Small soccer ball (or similar), 10 1-litre water bottles, chalk or length of string, etc (to mark the line)This is a lively and energetic activity that will have the preschool supervisors hopping and laughing along with the kids. Fill water bottles about 1/4 with water. Set the bottles up on the ground in a triangular pattern, as in ordinary 10-pin bowling. Choose an appropriate distance for the ages/abilities of the preschool children, and mark your kick line. The object is for the children to kick the ball toward the 'pins' and knock them down. Don't keep score as in real bowling; instead, make it a cooperative activity, with each member of the team attempting to knock down pins until all 10 have fallen.Variations: Vary the amount of water to make it more or less challenging. Use fewer bottles and make several 'alleys' to accommodate more preschoolers.2 Obstacle CourseYou'll need: A vivid imagination!This activity is always a crowd-pleaser, and is so variable that it's impossible in a short article to list all the possible permutations. The main idea is to mark out a path around your preschool's outdoor play area, utilising existing 'obstacles' such as trees, benches, picnic table, sand pit, etc. You can mark the path with a long string, or cardboard arrows or signposts... just so it is very clear where to go next. The preschoolers follow the path through every obstacle until they reach the end. Variety is the key, here. Have the children climbing up, crawling through and under, walking around and rolling over the obstacles.Variations: Limitless!3 Snake TagYou'll need: socks, or other short length of fabric to make 'tails.' Plenty of room.This is a creative variation on 'tag.' Each child has a sock tucked into their waistband to make a tail. One child is 'It.' This child attempts to steal the tail from another child. (The players aren't allowed to hold onto their own tail). When a tail is caught, both children are 'It' and must hold onto the sock as they attempt to steal other tails. Gradually, the snake grows until all children are caught. You can end this activity with the person in front trying to grab the tail of the last child caught, without breaking the chain. It will almost certainly end with everyone rolling on the ground in hysterics!4 Treasure HuntYou'll need: Trinkets or snacks to serve as 'treasures.' Treasure maps.Hide the treasure somewhere in the preschool's outdoor play area. Make a simple map, using drawings of the various landmarks (plants, trees, fences, etc), with an X marking the spot where the treasure is hidden. This is a good preschool activity to help children associate images on paper with objects in the real world.Variation: Make the map as simple or complex as is appropriate for your preschoolers. Groups of up to three can work together to try to find the treasure (be sure there's enough treasure to share). For larger groups, you can hide more treasure and make several maps.5 Musical TreesYou'll need: Music, a tree.This variation on musical chairs is a guaranteed giggle-fest. Play some lively music, and have the children dance freely around the tree as the music plays. When you stop the music, they must freeze in place. Milk this for all it's worth, walking slowly around the 'frozen' children and examining their hilarious poses. Then, start the music again, and you're off.

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