I need to come up with ideas for daycare visits to our gym.
January 29, 2013 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm the program developer at a gymnastics club, and my latest assignment has be wracking my brain. We have outside daycare groups come and visit us once a week for around an hour, and my boss wants us to add on an additional activity to make us a more appealing choice. Help?

The daycare kids are usually between the ages of 2-5, and there are between 15-25 kids, with usually 1 adult for every 2-4 kids. I am the only coach. Our gymnastics gym is pretty typical Here's a really old picture to give you an idea of the space, but of course we've moved/added some equipment.

The idea is that the kids will come for 45 minutes of gymnastics (following little obstacle courses set up at the different events), and then do 30 minutes of another activity. The other activity should be something that isn't usually done at daycares, so reading, or arts projects are out of the picture. We can purchase simple supplies, but I don't want to spend more than $300ish initial investment, and no more than $15 or so each visit. The kids usually come once a week, for 12-24 weeks, and sometimes come back for multiple semesters.

One idea I had was to read a book, and do a "big idea" with the theme of the book each week. Something big enough that they wouldn't do it at daycare, like a life size game board, or something. I'm quite decent at music, singing, art, sports and dance, so we can incorporate that a bit, but it shouldn't just be like a ballet lesson. We're looking for big, exciting ideas.

I'm really at a loss for other ideas, though. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!
posted by hasna to Education (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Parachute games! I've yet to meet someone who didn't absolutely love them as a kid.
posted by halogen at 11:42 AM on January 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

Parachute games. They're a huge hit at Gymboree with toddlers, and I remember parachute days being awesome in gym class in first grade. You can buy a 30-foot parachute for $200.
posted by purpleclover at 11:43 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

We are really serious about parachutes, on preview.
posted by purpleclover at 11:44 AM on January 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

You could also buy some soft rope (not the kind with the sharp poky things sticking out) and do a tangle or an obstacle course or have kids balance on the rope or follow directions going under a rope, jumping over another one, etc.
posted by rmless at 11:51 AM on January 29, 2013

My first thought reading the question was "Parachute!" So yeah. If you don't have one, kids LOVE them.
posted by ambrosia at 11:52 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Human checkers: you play a regular game, but with kids taking the place of the pieces and one kid on each side directing the action. Encourage the "pieces" to act like goofballs while they're on the board (maybe make each row a "theme," so when they're in Animal Row, they act like their favorite animal, and when they get moved to Vehicle Row, they get to VROOM (in place, quietly)). Get with the daycare staff to pick a kid who maybe isn't as into the gymnastics part of things to move the "pieces" (with help from the staff). Make sure that the kids who get "jumped" (go ahead, make them do it leapfrog style) get to act like crazy lunatics "dying," maybe even falling onto a nearby mat or into that foam pit thing -- that way, they get to have EVEN MORE FUN by "losing."

But frankly, parachute is the awesomest thing ever.
posted by Etrigan at 12:02 PM on January 29, 2013

I like the idea of a live-action board game. The spaces should be cards that get laid down in a random order, and there should be a giant spinner or a foam die at least 8" cube, and the actions on the spaces should be good active kid things like "hop on one foot 2 spaces" or "jump forward as far as you can". Except that's good for only about 6 kids at a time before it starts being hard to wait your turn.
I'm imagining building a maze (sticking pool noodles to the floor with tape?), which might be as much fun to build as to go through, but since the space gets used for other things, that might be too time-consuming to set up and take down.
posted by aimedwander at 12:03 PM on January 29, 2013

nthing parachutes. My son just had a birthday party at a kiddie gym and it was a huge hit.

That gym did similar things to what you're describing, picking a theme for the week and making the activities about that. So for the week we were there it was Candy Land, and the obstable course stuff was moved around and renamed for the different parts of the game, with some carpet squares as squares to jump on between each piece of equipment. Using a story or something like that can set up some ideas.
posted by goggie at 12:04 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not all parachute games are safe for kids that little, though plenty are. Just a heads up on that. Some of the more dramatic ones are more 4th-5th grade friendly.

I like your idea of a big, different activity each week, and also of dance. You could get through a lot of weeks doing a different simple line dance/hand jive dance like the Bunny Hop or Chicken Dance (though they might do stuff like this in daycare).

Can you go outside? In good weather, what about nature explorations? Can even be right nearby your building, in small areas. Looking for insects. Looking for leaf shapes, collect as many different as you can. Laying down and looking at clouds. Plenty of inspiration and books on environmental education with young kids out there.

I loved building at that age - especially with really large, stackable foam and cardboard building shapes that you could climb into.
posted by Miko at 12:04 PM on January 29, 2013

Response by poster: Good ideas so far! And yes, parachutes are awesome. We have one, but we don't use it very often, so I think I'm going to bust out out more often!!
Just one clarification, we want something that's going to be somewhat of an ongoing theme. We want to be able to advertise the program as "Gymnastics + ___________ !!" rather than just doing random - albeit fun - activities each week.
posted by hasna at 12:04 PM on January 29, 2013

I like Goggie's idea. You could come up with name like "Adventure Gymnastics!" and vary the storyline week to week for new "adventures" - Safari, Candy Land, Cave Exploration, Forest Critters, etc.
posted by Miko at 12:07 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Gymnastics + Dance is a good one. Not ballet, think of jazz or really simple line dances. Most of them will just jump up and down and wiggle their butts instead of really learning the move, but really, at this age, it's all about burning off energy in a fun way.

Gymnastics + Story Time - Read a story or nursery rhyme, and teach a little gymnastics move or routine to go with it, or theme the obstacle course for it, or both

Gymnastics + Sports - Hand them a football and tell them to run really, really fast, or carry a ball through an obstacle course, or pass balls around in a circle.

Gymnastics + Animals - have a little presentation on different animals, and teach a routine to go with it.

Gymnastics For When I Grow Up - teach them about what a police man, fireman, doctor, etc. does for a living, and a set of exercises that relate to it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:19 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

A local gymnastics place near us set up a simple zip line. Which is an enormous hit, but YMMV with the space you have being well suited for that.

Our Karate school goes offsite to do mini sessions to area daycares a lot.

posted by mazienh at 12:28 PM on January 29, 2013

How about Gymnastics + Surprise, with the idea being that there will always be some super fun extra included.
posted by Vaike at 12:38 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't really have an idea for programming, but for naming why not call it "Gymnastics Plus" and advertise that each week will have a new different set of games or a different theme?
posted by radioamy at 12:44 PM on January 29, 2013

My Audubon place is amazing. Each week it is a different theme (some creature) and they always have some game to go along with it. One that would be great for you is this game "hawk and mouse" (I think that was it). They had hula hoops and the kids ran around until the "hawk" ran through to try to get a mouse. If the mouse hopped in the hula hoop they couldn't be tagged.

Every week they have something similar. Action songs and games. If you chose a theme I am sure you could look online and get action songs (which kids love) and similar outdoor-ish games to go along with it (look up camp games?).

One week Weather- and you read a brief story about weather and sing some action song or just little games like they are clouds blowing around the room, etc.

Then you send them home with a coloring page about what they learned about.

You could call it something like "Tumble and Learn Preschool class"
posted by beccaj at 1:12 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Zip lines are awesome. Or, I was thinking Gymnastics & Preschool Olympics. One activity could be making the Olympic torch with paper towel rolls and construction paper and having a relay run around with it. Dividing into teams and coming up with team names & personal flags. Games: relay races; other races like crawling, jumping, running backwards; long jump or long jump off a jumping board; frisbee toss through a hula hoop; rhythmic gymnastics with the ribbon twirlers; bean bag throwing/catching, etc
posted by biscuits at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2013

How about glow time? If you use glow paint or tape to jazz up the space, get a black light, turn on the music and off the lights... all your usual scarves and hoops and neon pylons get turned up to awesome.
posted by xo at 1:46 PM on January 29, 2013

The Y near me occasionally has a bouncy slide day -- it's a huge hit. If you had a bouncy castle or slide (it looks like some are around $250) I think that would be a great theme.
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:41 PM on January 29, 2013

« Older How do I tell my boss I can't make it to a...   |   How private can I keep my SSN Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.