Toddlers have just begun to walk and run, and these skills give them the freedom to explore. Child care centers must take advantage of every opportunity to engage in physical/gross motor activities to build the children’s muscles and coordination, and to relieve stress. Kids must perform most of their vigorous play outdoors, but some creative movement is suitable for indoor play, too.
Walking and Running
Child caregivers should encourage toddlers to use their running legs by suggesting several destinations for them to run. Stimulate interest by giving them directions to run to the big tree or run to the swing set. Develop walking skills with games. Place masking tape on a concrete surface in a square, triangular or circular pattern. Invite the little ones to walk on the line, hence encouraging walking as well as an introduction to shapes. Add music as a bonus and encourage toddlers to step up the pace and march to the beat.
Use balancing as an extension activity to walking. Walking on a foam mat or pillow gives children a different walking surface -- as toddlers shift their weight from one side to the other, they begin to learn the skill of balancing. A handmade balance board (4-feet-by-4-inches-by-1/2-inch-thick) placed on the floor gives toddlers a prop to walk across. Hold the child’s hand as he walks along this plank from one side to the other. Balancing on a ball is a fun activity as toddlers lie across a large playground ball. Pull them toward you and then push them away.
Jumping is a favorite activity for toddlers and lets them use up lots of energy. There are two types of jumping skills -- up and down, and jumping over things. Use plastic hoops on the ground as props for toddlers to jump in and out. Taping circles on the ground or using carpet squares are other tools for jumping from one place to another. Pretending to be frogs or kangaroos teaches little ones to jump up and down and hop around the room.
Riding toys for toddlers must be small and simple. Little learners can sit on these toys and push with their feet; as such, these are better than toys with pedals at this age. Toddlers love wagons, filling them with other toys and pulling them around the track as well as taking a ride inside. To give toddlers a chance to experience all riding toys at a child care center, they need to learn about taking turns and sharing. Transition them with music. Let the children know that when the music stops, they must get off their rider and switch to another one.