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CONNIE'S BLOG:  

Moving Is Learning!

 

Connie has been blogging since 2011. Her posts range from tips for teachers, the benefits of dance, playful class plans, to how to choose a creative dance class for your child, and much, much more! All of her posts are below, starting with the most recently-published ones.

 

 
 
 
 

DANCING THROUGH THE ABC'S OF NATURE: Guest Blog Post for Free Spirit Publishing

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Welcome, Andrea Gibbs! Guest Blog post: OUTDOOR SUMMER MOVEMENT ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS

 
 

Outdoor Summer Movement Activities for Kids

Movement is crucial for optimizing our health, but with the busyness of summer, it's often hard to find the time to get outside and move. We're here to help! A little movement can go a long way to improve your little one's mood, alleviating stress, and helping them and us achieve a healthy immune system. The great news is that incorporating outdoor movement activities into your children's day is easier than you think. As we head into summer, use these ideas to encourage healthy summer-friendly movement:


What Are Movement Activities?

 

Movement Activities, also known as gross motor activities, are often considered a form of physical exercise and can be used as a form of therapy. These activities are designed to engage the muscles in the body, which usually leads to increased blood flow and circulation, improved muscle tone and strength, improved balance and coordination, or even better mood or mental health. Movement Activities vary in their level of intensity but are designed for all levels of fitness. Most movement activities focus on improving specific areas of the body, including core strength, upper body, lower body, and muscle tone.


Benefits of Outdoor Summer Movement Activities

 

Encouraging your children to go outdoors and move can have many benefits for them.
Summer movement activities can help boost your child's mood. Kids who participate in these activities are happier, have better social skills, and are more attentive in school than those who do not stay active.


Summer is a great time for kids to learn about nature. With outdoor movement activities, your child can learn about the plants, animals, and places around them which help them become more aware of their environment and develop a respect for the natural world.


Additionally, outdoor movement activities are a great way to boost your child's immune system. Being outside activates the body's natural defenses that protect it from disease. Nature improves our mood and increases oxygen levels in the blood.


A strong immune system can help prevent infections such as colds and flu. An active immune system also detects and fights viruses earlier than those which are inactive, meaning a stronger immune system is more effective at fighting all sorts of diseases.


So, in order to attain these benefits, get your children outside and engage in activities that encourage movement.


Popular Summer Outdoor Movement Activities for Kids

 

 

There are many ways to keep your kids active while enjoying the beautiful summer weather. These ideas provide not just fun and entertainment but a way to introduce your child to the outdoors and help them engage their senses in the process.


1. Who Am I?

 

This classic yet fun activity promotes fantasy play and thinking skills, along with developing gross motor skills. Your child can play this activity with a group or with a partner.


What You Will Need: 

 

List of some creatures to try to imitate
Unobstructed outdoor space to play

Time: 15 to 20 minutes


How to Play:

 

Select various animals and encourage your child to pretend to move like them. Have your little one take turns guessing what animal the other child is.
Another selection is to split the group into two, encouraging each half to imitate a different creature. Then allow them to guess which animal their "partner" is attempting to be.
Try suggesting different types to make it more challenging, such as animals that fly, jump, or run.

 

Here is a list of animals to try and imitate:


Dog
Lion
Gorilla
Tortoise
Snake
Butterfly
Crab
Rabbit

 

2. Obstacle Course

 

This movement activity is a blast for all ages, encouraging gross motor development,

balance, and agility. Encourage your children to engage in this activity with friends who are in need of some extra exercise after a busy school year.


What You Will Need: 

 

Waste materials or items found around the house like old tires, boxes, a plank of wood, or plastic cones
Protective clothing and shoes (recommended to wear shoes with rubber soles).
Tree branches for climbing and balance for younger children

Time: 30 to 50 minutes (depending on how many obstacles you want to set up)


How to Play:

 

Set up the obstacles in a spacious area.
 Have the children try to go from one point to the next, going over, under, and around the obstacles.
Try varying which direction the children have to go, for example, sideways, diagonally, or in sections.
Encourage your child to try new obstacles to improve their skills and work on objects that are too big for them.
Have them play with friends in a non-competitive manner when playing this activity. It is not intended to be used as an actual game with points or trophies awarded.

 

 

3. Tight-Rope Walkers

 

Depending on the age and ability of your children, this summer movement activity can be done in groups or individually. This activity promotes balance and safety awareness, engaging your children in discovery and exploration.


What You Will Need: 

 

A piece of string laid on the ground or floor or raised slightly and tied to the legs of chairs.

Time: 15 to 25 minutes


How to Play:

 

Have your little one walk along the string, placing one foot carefully in front of the other without losing their balance and "falling into a river of crocodiles" or "falling off the tightrope."
Encourage your little ones to walk with a purpose and try to keep up pace with the faster walkers.
Try having your child try walking backward or sideways along the string.

 

4. Jumping on Paper Plates

 

This summer activity is a fun way to get your little ones to be active outside the house and improves balance, agility, and coordination.


What You Will Need: 

 

A number of paper plates
A large indoor or outdoor space

Time: 20 to 30 minutes 


How to Play:

 

Arrange the paper plates in a large area such as an open field or playground.
Have your child jump from one plate to the next without breaking any. If they do, they have to start over. For younger children, you might want to have them try jumping on one plate at a time or just mark out the pattern so that they know where to land.
Another variation would be to have the child run from plate to plate, stopping when they reach a certain number of plates.

 

5. Scavenger Hunt

 

Get your children outside to play this fun and engaging summer activity that promotes active learning and physical activity. The scavenger hunt for kids promotes concentration, logical thinking skills, spatial awareness, and imagination. 


What You Will Need: 

 

A small basket
List of items for the scavenger hunt
A pen or pencil for each child.

Time: 30 to 45 minutes 


How to Play: 

 

Provide a list of items for the children to find and record. These items should be common in nature, like rocks, fallen leaves, sticks, etc. If the item is a little tougher, you may want to let them know what item is available and where they can find it in advance.
Have them walk around the neighborhood or local park looking for these items and instruct them to bring the best example back to you.

 

You can also make it more competitive by having them compete on who finds the most items in the shortest time.
If you are in a larger group, you may want to split into teams and encourage them to find as many objects as possible within the set time limit.

 

Your child may not be able to participate in all these activities every day but should at least try out some fun and active summer activities, as each one will help improve their motor skills and strength and boost your child's confidence.

 

Author Bio

 

Andrea is currently the head of content management at SpringHive Web Design Company, a digital agency that provides creative web design, social media marketing, email marketing, and search engine optimization services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also a blog contributor at Baby Steps Preschool where she writes storytime themes, parenting tips, and seasonal activities to entertain children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dance the Alphabet! (Guest Post for Free Spirit Publishing)

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Movement, Play, and SEL: Create a Picture Book Dance Story (Guest Blog Post for Free Spirit Publishing)

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Guest Blog Post for Free Spirit Publishing: 3 Outdoor Creative Movement Activities to Support Children's Mental Health

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THREE LIVELY BRAIN BREAKS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

Reach your hands to the sky!

 

 

An energetic brain break is always a welcome activity in the middle of a busy day.  These playful, active, and enriching brain break ideas will be fun for a small or large group of children.

 


1. Category Caper

 


Time: 10 minutes

Directions:

 

This activity can be done in a small space. All of the movements can be performed in place.

 

Identify 3 categories:  i.e., colors, fruits, vegetables.
Then, match an action to each category, i.e. color = jump, fruit = sit, vegetable = run in place.
Name, show a picture, or hold up an object and the children will categorize it.  
The children then perform the corresponding action.

 

*This game should progress quickly, to keep the children moving constantly from sitting to jumping, to running. 

 

 

 

2. Time to Rhyme

 

 

 

Time:  10-15 minutes

Directions:

 


This activity can be done in a small space.  All of the movements can be performed in place.

 


1.  Say the following poem line by line, allowing the children to respond in movement to each movement prompt.

 

 

 

I like to march right under the arch.

 


I like to jump and land with a thump.

 


I like to learn how to turn.

 


I like to run – it's so much fun.

 


I like to hop then quickly stop.

 


I like to freeze and bend my knees.

 

 


2.  Repeat the activity, and instead of saying the action word, give the rhyming word and encourage the children to fill in the blank with the appropriate motor skill.  For example, say, " I like to _______, and land with a thump."  Once the children guess the action word, they respond in movement.

 


3.  Vary this activity for a larger space.  Ask the children to think of rhyming words for the following additional motor skills: walk, crawl, slide, gallop, prance

 


3. My Turn!

 

 

 

Time:  10-15 minutes, depending on the number of children

Materials:  Movements written on file cards, one movement per card (enough for one per child, or several per child for a small group).

 


With the children standing evenly spaced in a circle, say to them:  We will go around the circle and each child will have a turn. I am going to choose a card from this stack.  When it is your turn, you will do the movement on the card.

 

Movement suggestions: 

  • Touch your toes
  • Jump as high as you can
  • Turn around on your tiptoes
  • Balance on one foot
  • Shake your whole body
  • Make a silly shape and a silly face
  • Touch your nose to the floor
  • Make an upside down shape
  • Imagine you are very sad, and then very happy
  • Hop on one foot
  • Play air guitar
  • Go down to the floor very slowly, then come back up quickly
  • Balance on your tiptoes as long as you can
  • Make a narrow shape and then a wide one
  • Make a twisty shape like a pretzel
  • Sit on the floor, then stand up and reach your arms high 
  • Stomp your feet without making any noise
  • Take baby steps and make a circle around yourself
  • Jump with your feet wide apart, and then with your feet together
  • Make a shape with two hands and one foot touching the floor

 


Once you have gone around the circle, shuffle the cards and go around again, if the children are still engaged in the activity.

 

Other suggestions for continuing the activity:

 

*Ask the children to think of their own movements as you go around again

 


*Ask the children which one was their favorite movement, and have them all do their favorite movements at the same time

 


*Continuing with the favorite movement idea, ask them to repeat their favorite movements five times in a row

 


*Play a lively musical selection, and allow the children to move about in the shared space, trying out many of the movement ideas from the circle.

 

 

 

Keep on Dancing,

 

Connie

                                                   MOVING IS LEARNING!

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Guest Blog Post for Free Spirit Publishing: 9 Tips for Creating Inclusive Movement Activities

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Guest Blog Post for Free Spirit Publishing: Make Physical Distancing Fun with this SEL and Movement Activity!

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A Collection of Winter and Holiday Movement Activities

Playing with netting snowflakes!

Hello, and Happy Winter!

 

 

 

For this blog post, I have assembled a collection of many of my past posts about winter. They are all published in the SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Editors) 2020 Holiday Activity Guide -- Winter Activities for Grades PreK-Kingergarten, Ages 3-6, where you will find lots of other children's authors' ideas for winter fun.

 

 

By clicking this link, you will find the following winter movement activities:

 

 

Footprints in the Snow: A Movement Exploration Inspired by Winter
Winter provides endless inspiration for imaginative movement ideas. This activity addresses science, nurtures creativity, and encourages large motor skills practice.

 

 

Bird Count Picture Book, with a READ AND DANCE Lesson Plan
Susan Edwards Richmond wrote a beautiful picture book about the Audubon winter bird count, and I have created a playful movement activity about her story.

 

 

Snow Day! Indoor Activities to Supplement Outdoor Play
Playful and lively indoor creative movement activities about winter: Draw and Dance, Indoor Snowballs, Dance and Freeze in Snowflake Shapes.

 

 

A Winter Dance Story: The Most Perfect Snowman
A dance story about the picture book The Most Perfect Snowman by Chris Britt–a lively activity that's perfect for an interactive winter story time.

 

 

 

Christmas Story and Dance Activity: Sparkle the Snowflake
A lively holiday activity, built around an original story about a valiant little snowflake, with simple instructions for retelling the story through dance and music.

 

 

 

 

Keep on Dancing,

 

 

Connie

 

 

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Halloween Poem and Dance Activity

 

 

 Hello, Halloween!

 

 

Here is a lively poem, SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL, that I wrote in honor of Halloween. It accompanies the dance activity below. Have fun grooving at the

     

Skeleton Jamboree and Monster Ball!                

                          

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Shake, Rattle and Roll

 

 

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Here I go, clackety, clop,

I'm gettin' ready for the skeleton hop.

.


I'll be gleaming from head to toe.

Shining my bones 'til they sparkle and glow.

 


Cranium, maxillae, mandible bones, 

Humerus, radius, trapezoid bones,

 


Pectoral girdle, scapula bones,

Tarsus, talus, cuneiform bones.

 


Waxing my skull to shine like new,

Wearing my mask and top hat too.

 

 

Look at my pale, unearthly gleam,

Under the moon, I grin and beam.

 


Shake those sacrums and ischiums now,

Rattle and roll, curtsy and bow.

 


Clavicle, vomer, and palatine bones.

Pelvis, ribs and ischium bones,

 

 

Femur, patella, tibia bones.

Phalanges, ulna, cuboid bones

 

 
Shake and shimmy and strut and swing,

Rock and rattle and do our thing.

 

 

Jam and jitterbug, jive and jig.

Move and groove at our jamboree gig!

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Dance Activity
 

 

 Here is your invitation to dance like a monster, a skeleton, or a witch with a broomstick!

 


Imagine you are invited to a monster ball. What monster would you want to be? What would you look like?  What would you be wearing?  Show how you would walk, how you would run, and how you would dance.

 


Now think about all of the other characters at the ball. Let's try moving and dancing like each one.  Here are some ideas, and you will have a chance to think of your own and explore those movements too.  

 

 

(Call out the Halloween characters on the list one by one, and give children plenty of time to explore their movement ideas before moving on to the next prompt. Play any of these musical selections while children dance about the different characters).

 

 

Witch with a broomstick

Zombie

Frankenstein

Skeleton

Ghost

Black cat

Bat

Jack O'Lantern

Spider 

Robot

 What else?  

 

Which was your favorite? Let's do one final dance, so everyone can dance about their very favorite Halloween character!

 


Music suggestions: 

 

 

 

Monster Mash, (Bobby Pickett, 1962)

 

Monster Boogie (Laurie Berkner Band, from the 1998 Album Buzz Buzz)

 

Night on Bald Mountain, Mussorgsky, from Pictures at an Exhibition (any rendition)

 

For very young children: Halloween Shark (Pink Fong Halloween Special) Apple Music

 

 

Keep on Dancing!

 

Connie

 

 

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