The Growth and Giggles Blog

Ideas for helping parents and their preschoolers.

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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in physical development
2 Quick Ideas to Help with Balance & Leg Strength 1. Put pieces of masking tape (approximately the length of the child's foot) : one piece for hopping and two side-by-side pieces for jumping along a path. Wherever you put the two pieces, direct your child to "Jump!" and when they get to the single piece of tape remind them to "Hop." This course can be as long or short as you like, indoor or outdoor, from the kitchen table to the bathroom to brush teeth after a meal, etc. This activity is growing muscles in your child's body, teaching the ability to balance (especially when hopping), and learning to follow directions is a benefit as well. 2. There is also the option of doing one long straight tape line on the floor (or yarn/ribbon/rope could work as well) in order to give the child a pretend tightrope or balance beam. Walk forward and backward, put on some music and do...
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Crab Walk, Arches (Bridges), and Backbends Kids like moving their bodies! Here are three fun activities that build flexibility, balance, strength, and coordination. Safety Tip: Remember, do not force yourself (or children) to flex farther than is comfortable, with a slight pulling feeling in the muscles. Hold the stretch, then gently stretch a bit further. Never force a stretch. Crab walk: Have children sit with their knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of them, feet apart. Next show them how to place their hands down by their sides, but slightly behind their backs. Then, they can raise their hips off the floor. Now they can walk forward, backward, and sideways, pretending to be crabs. Arches: Have the children lie on their backs. Help them place their hands on either side of their head beside their ears. Their fingers point back toward their shoulders. Help them place their feet flat on the floor near...
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Posted by on in Learning Games
What do I do with a Sandbox? When my oldest daughter was 15 months old, her dad built a sandbox. I (Kirby) knew it was going to be perfect! I could hang clothes out to dry while my toddler blissfully discovered pouring and measuring and building and dumping. Montessori had come to my house! I gathered up my basket of wet clothes, led my little girl over to the new sandbox, and headed for the clothesline. But she just stood there, staring at the sand and looking puzzled. Then it hit me—she didn’t know how to play with sand. So I abandoned my laundry and we spent time making mountains together and filling up her dump truck, pouring water onto the sand, and digging holes. After that, she knew what to do, and she knew how much fun it could be. It’s not just kids who haven’t learned how to play with sand. Lots of parents don’t know...
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Posted by on in Learning Games
Games to Play with String If you’re looking for a versatile toy with tremendous developmental benefits, a simple length of string, rope, or yarn is the way to go. Here are some games you can play with that string that address various areas of a child’s development. Many of these can be played anywhere! Keep yarn or string in your purse or pocket to pull out when your little one is getting bored and needs something fun and challenging to do. Balance and Coordination String, yarn, or rope makes a perfect balance beam. Stretch the string out on the floor, and show your child how to walk on it, putting one foot in front of the other. Your child can do lots of fun things on a balance beam: Walk on a curvy or zigzag line Balance on one foot on the string Do an arabesque (or scale) Jump zigzags back and forth across the string...
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Teach Your Child to Use Scissors Bouncing spirals hanging from the ceiling fan. Paper dolls. Hula skirts for toys. Fringed placemats. Paper-plate angels. Toilet-paper-tube puppets. When you know how to use scissors, you can make the best crafts! So how do you teach the skills necessary for all those fun crafts? Introduce the Scissors Show your child a pair of safe scissors. Tell him it’s like a little bird. The finger holes are the wings, and the blades are the mouth. You can make the bird flap its wings, and then it can open and close its mouth. Teach a Proper Grip Have the child put his thumb in the top hole and fingers on the bottom. A lot of kids try to put their thumbs on top. While they might be able to maneuver this initially, it won’t work at all when they try to cut around curves or cut more complicated shapes. So be sure...
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Build Pre-Writing Skills from Birth Through Preschool The ability to write, once a child is old enough, largely depends on the finger and hand strength and the coordination he has developed in his early years. You would think this would happen naturally, but teachers and physical therapists are seeing more and more children whose hands and fingers are not up to the task. Even in third and fourth grade, teachers are sending home notes asking parents to please help their children to do tasks which develop finger strength. Good news! There are many fun activities from infancy on that you can do with your child to prepare him for success in this important area of life. Tummy Time Giving your baby tummy time from her newborn days is an important part of developing needed strength. (If your little one is no longer an infant, and she didn’t get much tummy time, don’t worry! Read further down.) As babies...
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Posted by on in Uncategorized
Textures for your Toes So often we think to let children feel textures with their hands, but we seldom think to let their feet experience new textures. Feeling textures with the feet is great for toddlers and preschool aged children. It stimulates the nerve endings in their feet as well as working on balance. And it is fun. How Do We Play? Place several textures in a row on the floor. Examples: Soft spongy foam from packing or bubble wrap. The large bubbles make a loud bang when popped, so avoid those for toddlers and young pre-school aged children. It can frighten them and ruins the experience. You also could use a mesh bag that oranges come in, a terry cloth towel, clear cellophane that makes crinkly sounds when  stepped on, fuzzy fabrics like velvet and fake fur, the bottom of a Styrofoam egg carton, or clean meat trays. Tape them down to avoid slips and falls.  Have all ages walk  barefooted on the...
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Posted by on in Uncategorized
Games to Play with Hula Hoops Hula hoops are great tools for developing physical skills, and they are lots of fun too! A preschooler probably won’t be able to use a hula hoop for its intended use yet, but there is still a lot they can do with one.  Here is a list of games and learning activities for hula hoop time. Lay the hoop on the ground and use it as a target for a bean bag toss. Put a series of hoops on the floor, and have your child follow directions to hop from hoop to hoop. They can jump with both feet, step, hop on one foot, etc. Use a hoop as a round balance beam. They can walk one foot in front of another around the circle, or they can stand on the hoop with their toes pointing toward the inside of the circle and side step (step, together, step, together.) Side-stepping in...
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Teaching Your Child Ball Skills—Part 3: Throwing Now that you’ve been working on catching and hitting with your little one, you may want to move on to throwing skills. Obviously, your baby has probably been tossing toys around since he could sit up, but you’ll want to work with your preschooler on how to throw properly and how to make the ball go where he wants it to. The best place to start is with underhand throwing. Use something squishy that your child can easily grasp. A rolled-up pair of socks is perfect for this. Have him hold onto the “ball” and swing his hand backward, then forward, and back again. Then have him swing his hand back and hold it there, then forward and hold it there. This helps develop control. Explain that when he swings his hand forward, that’s when he lets it go. When he has practiced swinging his hand forward and letting go, then...
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Teaching Your Child Ball Skills—Part 2: Hitting Hitting a ball is a great activity for developing eye-hand coordination, and it lays a foundation for many sports activities as your child grows. As a bonus to you, this section provides some great games your child can play while you are cooking dinner or otherwise occupied! Have you noticed how fascinated little ones are with balloons? Batting a balloon is a perfect early step to learning how to hit a ball. Start with a helium balloon anchored to the ground by a string. (Tie it to something heavy.) Show your child how to hit the balloon and then wait til it pops back up again before he hits it again. This helps him follow its progress with his eyes, work on depth perception, and develop a sense of timing in hitting a ball. Once your child is batting a helium balloon well, tie a regular balloon to the top of...
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Teaching Your Child Ball Skills—Part 1: Catching Did you know that you can work with a newborn on ball skills? Ok, she’s not going to be playing catch with you right away, but playing ball involves a complex group of skills, some of which you can be helping your child develop from infancy. Here is a sequence of activities that you can work on with your child as she grows to help her develop coordination, strength, and motor skills that will benefit her all her life. Two notes: as with all activities, stop before your child gets bored or tired. Very short spurts of these activities are fine—in fact, great! Second, if your child is not a baby any more, it’s not too late! You can still play these games together and use many of the same activities to teach a preschooler or elementary schooler to catch. 1. Tracking with the eyes. You know the saying, “Keep your...
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