Pre-K activities, learning games, crafts, and printables


Moving and stretching

Activities for toddlers and babies


This theme will show your group different ways to be active.



Tiny hooks
This activity is great for keeping children busy when it's time to get dressed to go outside. Stick several tiny hooks that are safe for little hands on the walls of your daycare, just high enough so that children have to stretch a little to reach them. Hang a variety of items on the hooks: a hat, a scarf (during winter), a handbag, a bucket, etc. Encourage children to stretch to grab the items. You may also hang children's clothing items and accessories on the hooks. Children will have no choice but to reach them so they can prepare for outdoor play.

SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch and look)

Frogs on the window
Purchase shapes with suction pads on the back that can safely be manipulated by little hands (normally used in bathtubs). I chose frogs. Moisten the shapes ever so slightly and press them on a window or large mirror, just out of children's reach. Encourage babies and toddlers to stretch to reach them. Show them how they can remove and reposition the shapes here and there as they wish.



Suspended ball
This is a great game for promoting motor skills and helping children stretch. Hang a large beach ball from the ceiling in your daycare. If possible, use elastic fabric to do so. Lie a baby or toddler on the floor, under the ball. The ball should be just out of the child's reach. Encourage the child to stretch his arms and legs to touch the ball with his hands and feet. Variation: Set the ball higher or lower to give the child the opportunity to reach it in a seated or standing position as well as lying down. Note: Use a clothespin to pinch the fabric and shorten or lengthen it according to each child's height.


Stretching baby
If you have young babies in your group that are new at lying on their stomach, set a few toys in front of them, just out of their reach. Encourage them to stretch to grasp them with their hands.


Water and a paintbrush
This is a great activity for a hot summer day. Depending on the ages of the children in your group, hand them a facecloth, a sponge (supervision required), a large paintbrush, or a paint roller. Set containers filled water on the floor. Children will enjoy dipping their "tool" in the water. If you wish, you may also add soap to the water. Children will love the soap bubbles. Encourage your group to "paint" various items in your yard with the water. The will have to stretch often during the activity, to reach the top of a table or fence for example.



Tummy stretching two by two
Set a baby or toddler on the floor on his stomach. Lie on your stomach in front of him. The distance between you and the child must just barely make it possible for you to touch the child with the tips of your fingers. Stretch out your hands and encourage the child to do the same. Invite him to try to grasp your fingers. Variation: Hold an object in your hands and stretch together so that the child is able to grab hold of it.

Stretching like a cat
Show children a video of a stretching cat or observe a cat while you are out and about with your group. Afterwards, position yourself on the floor with your group and encourage children to imitate a cat that is stretching his paws and neck. Show them how they can round their back too.



Balloons on the ceiling (supervision required)
Purchase several helium-inflated balloons. Invite each child to hold the ribbon attached to a balloon. The ribbon should be just long enough so that children are able to stretch and grab the end of it if they accidentally let go. Encourage children to pull on the ribbons and then release them to watch the balloons float up to the ceiling. Repeat as often as you wish. Children will never get tired of this activity.


Exercise ball
A large exercise ball represents a great tool for getting children to move and stretch. Set a toy (a stuffed animal for example) on the floor. Place a child on his stomach, on the ball. Holding his legs, gently roll the ball forward and encourage the child to stretch out his arms and hands to grab the toy. Roll the ball back to its starting position.


Little movers
Set several large yet lightweight items such as stuffed animals or empty cardboard boxes here and there throughout your daycare. Encourage babies and toddlers to move them to slightly higher locations so they have to stretch. They could, for example, set the items on highchairs, a shelf, or a counter.



Chantal Millette
Early childhood educator is not responsible for the content of this article. The information mentioned in this article is the responsibility of the author. shall not be held responsible for any litigation or issues resulting from this article.



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