Parachute games for toddlers

Written by shelley frost
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Parachute games teach toddlers cooperation and improve coordination. Parachutes are educational and fun tools for toddlers because of the variety of activities available. Parachute games require a group of children to provide enough hands for maneuverability. A large area free of obstructions is also necessary. Parachute play rules should be established before play begins. Once the ground rules have been established, the parachute games for toddlers are ready to begin.

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Introductory Play

Allow toddlers to explore the properties of the parachute before beginning formalised games. Assign each child a spot along the edge of the parachute. Encourage the toddlers to explore the movement of the parachute as they raise their hands. Practice making small ripples and larger waves. Encourage the toddlers to find their own ways to discover the properties of the parachute.

Ball Exploration

Place a ball in the middle of the parachute. Allow children to explore the reaction of the ball as they manipulate the parachute. Challenge the children to keep the ball in a certain area of the parachute or bounce it off of the parachute. Add more balls to the parachute to determine what happens. Different sized balls add variation to this toddler parachute game. Beach balls, tennis balls and foam balls work well on parachutes. If the parachute has a hole in the middle, try rolling the ball through the hole or try to keep the balls from falling through the hole.

Parachute Stories

Story time is an educational and fun activity for children. Combine story time and parachute play with a group of toddlers. Tell a story with actions that can be replicated with the parachute. A story that includes waves on the ocean or wind will work well because toddlers can imitate the actions with the parachute. Ask the toddlers for ideas that will fit into the parachute story. Another option is to share a story including the words "up" and "down." Children should raise their arms and their parachute each time the hear the word "up." They should lower the parachute upon hearing the word "down."

Carousel

With each child holding on to the edge of the parachute, practice walking around in a circle to resemble a carousel. Vary the way the children move by directing them to hop or skip. Children can raise and lower their bodies as they walk in the circular motion to simulate the movement of carousel horses. Background music can guide the tempo of the movement. The height of the parachute may also be varied in this toddler game.

Spot Swap

Assign the toddlers a number, with at least two children being assigned the same one. When the signal is given, the toddlers raise the parachute as high as they can and the caller announces a number. The toddlers assigned that number release the parachute, run under it, and switch places with another toddler. Colours, letters or animal names may be assigned instead of numbers to fit the current theme or educational concept.

Mushroom

This parachute game for toddlers allows the children to experience the parachute from the inside. The children raise their arms as high as they can to make the parachute into a giant mushroom shape. As it reaches its peak, the children quickly take a few steps toward the middle, pulling the edge of the parachute down to the ground. The children then sit on the edge of the parachute and watch it slowly fall to the floor.

Wrap Up

As the end of the parachute play session nears, slow the tempo of the games. Encourage the children to go from making large waves in the parachute to smaller waves. The slower actions with the parachute will calm the children and ease their transition to the next activity.

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