Gentle stretches and movement
Activities for babies and toddlers.
The goal of this theme is to provide young children with the opportunity to stretch and move their body without overstimulating them. Its activities are ideal for helping children become aware of their body while improving their flexibility.
Display pictures of different body parts on the walls of your daycare. Point to the corresponding pictures when performing the movements and stretches suggested throughout the theme.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Soft corner for stretching
Set exercise mats in a corner of your daycare before children arrive in the morning. Add cushions they can climb over and play soft music. Encourage children to explore this area as they wait for their friends to arrive. Use this corner to introduce your theme.
I will catch you
As children wait for their lunch, set an object on the table or on their highchair tray, a book or a stuffed animal for example. Be sure to deposit the item in the centre of the table, just out of children's reach so they must stretch their arms out to grab hold of it. Encourage children to try to grasp the object and congratulate them if they succeed. This is a great way to make a simple action somewhat more difficult. It will push children to persevere to reach a goal. What's more, it will keep them busy as they wait for their food.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch)
Exercise ball and textured objects
Deposit a textured object, such as a piece of fake fur, on the floor. Set an exercise ball nearby and place a baby or toddler on the ball, on his/her stomach. Holding the child, gently roll the exercise ball forward. Encourage the child to stretch out his arms to reach for the textured object. Repeat the activity with a different textured object.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (listen)
Swaying to the sound of music
Play soft music. Sit on the floor with your group. Have fun swaying from side to side to the sound of the music. You may also sing a song or set a child in your lap to sway with him/her.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Stretching to draw
Hang a few large pieces of paper on a wall, positioning them so toddlers have to stretch their arms up to reach the paper. Set washable markers nearby. Encourage toddlers to stretch their arms up high to draw on the paper.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Place a puppet over your hand and use it to grasp a rattle or other toy. Hold the puppet over a child's head, as if the puppet wants to hand the item to him/her. Invite the child to hold out his/her hands to reach the puppet and grab hold of the object.
Turn the lights down low and play soft music. Adjust the thermostat so your daycare is somewhat warmer than usual. Massage children's arms and legs. Gently stretch their limbs upwards.
A duck on my body
Give each child a rubber duck. Encourage them to imitate the actions you perform with a rubber duck of your own. Thus, have them place their rubber duck on their head, lie down on the floor and place the rubber duck on their stomach, set it on their hand, etc. Name the body parts involved in each action throughout this activity.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
This activity is great for encouraging children to stretch their arms up towards the ceiling. Hang a beach ball from the ceiling using elastic fabric. Adjust the height of the beach ball per each child's height and the position he/she prefers (standing, sitting, on his/her back). The goal is for children to have to stretch their arms up high to touch the beach ball with the tips of their fingers. Children who are on their back can try to touch the beach ball with their feet.
Scarves are great accessories for encouraging gentle movements and stretches. Use lightweight scarves and have fun waving them to the sound of calm music. Invite children to wave the scarves in every direction, way up high, and down low, just above the floor.
Wash, wash, wash away
Provide slightly moistened facecloths and invite children to use them to wash items within your daycare. Encourage them to stretch to reach objects that are on shelves, a tabletop, or a stain on a wall.
Blow soap bubbles and encourage babies and toddlers to stretch out their arms to try to catch them.
Early childhood educator