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Spring is so close you can taste it! March 20th marks the first official day of spring and with bitterly cold days of winter almost at an end here are some activities to clear away the winter cobwebs. Taking 30 minutes out of the day each morning and afternoon to encourage children to engage in physical activities can help your little ones burn off energy, provide opportunities for hands-on learning, and has been shown to have positive effects on physical and emotional well-being.

This month ARCHS’ STL Educare program salutes Kim Clay, Owner/Director of the Licensed In-home child care program Auntie’s House. Kim has provided day and evening care in a safe family environment in the Walnut Park West neighborhood for over 20 years.  Check out the fun, low-cost learning activities the children at Auntie’s house are doing and don’t forget to tune in next month when we highlight another of our STL Educare providers as they access St. Louis area resources that support kids in crisis and explore activities that can reduce the effects of trauma and stress.

Funding for STL Educare is provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, Early Childhood and Prevention Services Section

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1. Music Movement Activities: One of the cheapest, easiest ways to get children moving is by using familiar songs such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” or “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” For an added twist try varying the speed/pitch of the song. Can you sing low and slow or high and fast? How does that change the way the kids move their bodies? Have you ever tried having the kids dance to “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg?

Equipment Needed: Radio/CD player, YouTube, or teacher voice

2. March Winds: Ball up a piece of paper, cotton ball, balloon, small ball, or feather. Each child should try moving the ball from one place to another by blowing the ball.  You can have them blow directly or try using a straw to increase the pressure of the air to see if the ball moves further/faster. Do the objects move quicker when you add more children/wind power? Which object was easiest to move? Which was hardest? Try graphing your results.

Equipment Needed: Paper or cotton balls, straws

3. Indoor Obstacle Course: Use a ball of twine, yarn, or tape to create a path that winds under tables, around furniture, over pillows to help children learn positional words while they burn off energy on a cold or rainy day.

Equipment Needed: Household items, string/twine, tape

4. Don’t Let the Balloon Touch the Ground: Attach Popsicle sticks to paper plates for a new twist to keeping your balloon from touching the ground. Have the kids come up with a story about a hero (balloon) they are trying to save from the dinosaurs, hot lava, or spikes that are on the ground trying to get your hero.  Can you save your hero from all the obstacles that are working to get her?

Equipment Needed: Imagination, paper plates, Popsicle sticks, balloon

5. Jump, Hop, and Twirl: Practice counting while getting the wiggles out with this fast favorite. Have the children create counting stations by placing a toy or piece of paper on the floor with a number for how many times they will jump like a frog, hop like a bunny, twirl in circle.  The limit for what you can do is your imagination.

Equipment Needed: Imagination, paper/paper plates, toys or other objects from around the room

6. Recycling Bowling: Make use of your water bottles, empty cans, and other recycled items by setting up an indoor Recycle Bowling alley. Have your children decide how much it costs to play and what they can use to knock down the cans and bottles.  Will the soccer ball work better than a tennis ball? Can you use a balloon? Write down what works and doesn’t work. Why do you think one object works better than another?

Equipment Needed: Recycled items that have been cleaned, balls or other objects from around the house.

7. Hopscotch: Don’t have a hopscotch mat? Make your own using paint, crayons, or chalk. Toss a stone or roll a dice to see how far you will jump. Can you make it to the number and back hopping on one foot without falling down?

Equipment Needed: Paint, crayons or chalk, sidewalk or paper

8. Sock/Bean Bag Toss: Use bean bags or ball up a pair of miss-matched socks. Can you toss them into an open laundry basket, into a shoe box, or onto a pillow?  How many times can you hit your target? Who tosses their bag or ball the furthest?

Equipment Needed: Bean bags or socks, Items from around the house

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Related Articles and Resources:

Missouri Early Learning Standards, Physical Development, Health and Safety Parent Guide

Information on becoming a Licensed Child Care Provider in Missouri if you care for more than four unrelated children in your home