Promote Gross Motor Skills
Are you looking for a unique way to keep your kids active and learning? Do you have beanie
babies under your bed like I do? I am all about repurposing and creating DIY active learning for
preschoolers. Why not dig out those beanie babies and use them to promote gross motor skills
with your kiddos?
Beanie babies come in all shapes and represent real and imaginary animals. I recommend trying
to use the animals with legs and tails (like cats and dogs). However, any beanie baby will do! If
this is a group activity, put the beanie babies in a bucket so the children can choose their own
beanie baby to use. Here are 10 of my favorite ways to incorporate active learning to promote
gross motor skills while playing with beanie babies.
1. Balancing Beanie Babies
The purpose of this activity is to provide children an opportunity to explore balance using a beanie baby. Children listen to your prompts to balance the beanie baby on different body parts. Body parts suggestions: head, shoulder, elbow, hand, knee, and foot. Next, challenge children to move safely in their personal space while keeping the beanie baby balance. This activity also promotes social emotional skills as children listen and follow directions.
While holding onto the beanie baby, prompt children to jump in place with both feet together. Then, safely jump forward/backward and side to side. Lastly, challenge children to jump as far as they can, one time, using a two footed take off and landing. If you have a tape measure handy, measure the distance each child jumps. This turns jumping into a quick math lesson when you read the numbers on the tape measure and compare distances jumped.
3. Feed The Hungry Puppy
With this active learning activity for preschoolers, a beanie baby helps us learn the alphabet! Simply glue a magnet on a beanie babies nose, gather magnetic alphabet letters, your ABC’s of Movement cards and you are good to go. Don’t have a set of these activity cards yet? You can purchase the cards here and they are also available in a download. If you are new to our blog, check out this post. Then, check out the entire Feed The Hungry Puppy post!
4. Beanie Tossing
The purpose of this activity is to provide children practice with the manipulative skill of tossing and catching. From a seated positon on the ground, children gently toss and catch their beanie babies by using both hands. As their eye-hand coordination improves, they can stand to toss and catch the beanie baby. Or toss back and forth to a friend.
5. Let's Move 'Em
This activity includes music with movement for preschoolers. Any music will work including the ABC’s of Movement music album. During this fun game, children take turns identifying their beanie baby animal and sharing if it has a tail or not. When the music starts, each child takes a turn leading their friends while moving like their beanie baby. When the music stops, they freeze and it is another child’s turn. Not only does this activity promote gross motor skills as the children gallop, jump, leap, stomp, and waddle, it promotes social-emotional skills with turn taking and following directions, and promotes creativity as they use their imaginations in play.
7. Balance and Hop
This is an advanced balance activity for older preschoolers and kindergarteners. While standing, children place a beanie baby over the top of their foot, lift their foot, and try to take small hops without the beanie baby falling off their foot. Super tricky but super fun, too!
8. Clean Your Room
This is another advanced balance activity. Children pretend to clean their room by using their feet. While standing, children put a beanie baby on top of their foot. Then they lift their foot to drop the beanie baby into a laundry basket or large container. Yet another awesome idea from The Inspired Treehouse!
9. Dance Party
Get your music back out because it is time for a beanie baby dance party. Children are encouraged to hold onto the “arms” or “legs” of their beanie baby with two hands and safely dance around their area.
10. Yoga Breathing
After getting all jazzed up from dancing, it is time to come back down with some deep yoga breaths. Prompt children to spread out and lay down on their backs with their beanie baby on their bellies. Encourage slow deep breaths. The beanie babies move up and down as children are taking deep breaths and are a great visual prop for deep breathing exercises. Yoga ABC’s is another great resource for breathing and mindfulness.
More Active Ways to Learn the Alphabet
Children love playing with beanie babies because they are the perfect size for preschool hands to manipulate and they are so cute. There are so many ways you can incorporate active learning with beanie baby play. Looking for more active ways for learning letters? Check out this blog post or these physical development activities for preschoolers! We love sharing resources and unique ideas to incorporate movement into your literacy lessons. Follow our social media pages for more inspiration!