“It is important for parents to engage their children in fun activities,” said Bethe Almeras, director of Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play. “Children need fun movement opportunities throughout the day in order to develop early preferences for a healthy lifestyle and to develop motor competences which will support ongoing physical activity.
“Going swimming at your local pool, pond, or beach will be a great way to cool down while getting more moderate to vigorous physical activity. An inexpensive pool noodle and beach ball can provide fun both in and out of the pool,” she added.
The Center staff offer several ways for parents to help their young children get moving this summer with these fun pool noodle and beach ball activity ideas:
- Tunnel Fun: Line up a few chairs facing each other, a few feet apart. Lay pool noodles across the chairs to make a tunnel. Children can crawl underneath the noodles or through the tunnel, developing upper body strength and spatial concepts while having fun!
- Rocket Ships: Cut a pool noodles in half or into thirds. Count 1,2,3 Blast Off! And then throw the pool noodle high in the air and then try to catch it. Or, throw the noodle high in the air and call out an action to do before it lands (i.e. jump, touch the ground, turn around).
- Let’s Go Bowling: Tape 2 pool noodles parallel to each other approximately 1 to 2 feet apart from each other as bumpers in a bowling alley. Line empty water bottles at the end of the two noodles. At the opposite end, encourage children to roll a ball down the “bowling alley” to knock down the pins. To vary the activity, provide different size balls and bottles weighted with water to encourage children to use a variety of speeds and force when rolling the ball.
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat: Children sit in pairs facing each other and hold onto the same noodle. Children pretend to “row the boat” by pulling back and forth. Increase the challenge of this activity by sitting on big balls. This will challenge stability and engage more core (trunk) muscle strength.
- Copy Cats: What fun ways can we move with the pool noodle? Let the children create the fun. Take turns being the “leader” and everyone copies. Beware this could get silly while children practice moving through self space and taking on the roles of leader and follower.
- Noodle Cut-Ups: Cut a cylinder shaped pool noodle into 4 or 5 inch segments. Use these for tossing activities (i.e. Rocket Ships above, toss at a target, use as a target, etc.) or to carry around in fun ways (i.e. put in between your knees and waddle like a duck, two friends carry it together without using their hands).
- Cooperation Carry: Pair 2 children to walk across the room or play area carrying the beach ball together. First they might use two hands, then one hand each. No hands?! What fun and silly ways will they think of to carry the ball?
- Toss and Turn: This is “Simon Says” with a twist. Toss the beach ball up into the air and do something fun before it hits the ground. An adult (Simon) gives a direction, such as “touch your nose,” “clap your hands,” “jump up and down,” “turn around”. Children throw the ball up into the air and do what Simon Says before it hits the ground. For added fun, let the children take turns being Simon.
- Body Ball Roll: Using a ball work on rolling the ball around your body. Stand up, sit down, kneel or lie down. Such a simple activity can give children practice with stabilizing and controlling actions and explore relational and space awareness.
For more activities, visit the Head Start Body Start at www.headstartbodystart.org. Each month the Center features a free, downloadable “Let’s Get Moving” physical activity calendar including a simple, fun movement idea for each day of the month.