Thursday, May 24, 2012

Active Play Boxes

Have you ever considered creating active play boxes for the school or home to encourage physical activity time for children?   Sometime playground equipment is not always available at a school during recess times.  Or perhaps it is available, but the children are tired of climbing on it.  Provide the teachers with play boxes or ideas to include in an active play box. These active play boxes can then be taken outdoors during recess or any time of the day. You can also create a lending library of active play boxes for the elementary school teachers. As an additional benefit, research has indicated children increase moderate to vigorous physical activity time when there is more portable playground equipment.
Here are some suggestions for different themed active play boxes: 
  • Ball box - include various sizes and textures of different playground balls
  • Bubble box - include bubbles, different bubble wands and bubble trays
  • Jump rope box - add traditional jump ropes, chinese jump ropes and double dutch ropes
  • Sidewalk chalk box - have an art contest, create new black top games, hopscotch, etc.
  • Activity card box - write one playground game on each, i.e. freeze tag, hide and go seek, obstacle course, etc. The children can pick out one card at a time to choose a game.
  • Science box - magnifying glasses, bug containers, tweezers
  • Water paint box - buckets for water, large paintbrushes and paint rollers to "paint" the black top with different designs
  • Beach party box - include beach balls, tether ball set, paddle ball and Velcro mitt set
  • Celebration box - include streamers and ribbon sticks to run and play with
  • Catch All Box - Velcro mitts, Frisbees, soft footballs, small balls, recycled plastic milk jugs with tops cut off but handles left on to catch balls
  • Hula Hoop Box - suggest hula hoop contests or use hoops to create obstacle courses
  • Race Box - include stopwatches and cones; the children can set up races and time each other
Don't forget to create some active free play boxes for indoor recess as well.  These would make nice gifts for teachers at the end of the school year.  
  • Pedometers - children can see how many steps they take during recess and try to increase each time.  You can get these at some dollar stores.
  • Dance party box - radio with batteries, dance music.  Find an old radio player at a garage sale.
  • Indoor balls - balloons and cardboard tubes.  Have the balloons all blown up.  Put them inside stockings if you are worried about balloon pieces if they pop.
  • DVD box - collection of exercise DVDs for kids
  • Bean bag box - include bean bags and targets to throw at
  • Ebooks - Print these ebooks and put in a box or folder for teachers/parents to use to encourage motor activities:  Mini Movement Breaks, Classroom Activity Posters, Roll Some Fun , Dancing with the Owls , Imagination Action Journeys and Motor Minute Challenges.  
With the amount of recess time dwindling, physical and occupational therapists can play a crucial role in educating school staff and parents on the benefits of physical activity for ALL children.

Reference:   Dowda, Marsha, Brown, William H., McIver, Kerry L., Pfeiffer, Karin A., O'Neill, Jennifer R., Addy, Cheryl L., Pate, Russell R. Policies and Characteristics of the Preschool Environment and Physical Activity of Young Children Pediatrics 2009 123: e261-e266

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