Check out The Best Movement Activities for Preschool! As a ballet dancer for over 20 years, movement is my passion! You are never too old or too young to enjoy the art of movement. Not only is movement great for burning energy, but it is a great way to express thoughts and feelings. Getting your little ones involved in movement builds gross motor skills like physical coordination, balance, and muscle strength. There are so many reasons to get moving! Check out my favorite movement exercises below.
Move Like an Animal Exercise
I did this movement activity with my class in South Africa and they loved it! This activity gives everyone the chance to move across the floor as an animal. To start off the activity, gather your class together and talk about one animal, for example a bird. How does a bird move? It has big wings and tiny feet. It glides through the air. When it lands it pecks with its nose at the ground in search of food. What activities does a bird perform? It can build a nest, it can fly in the air, it can splash its wings in a puddle.
Once you have discussed the animal. Get moving! You arms can be wings to move in broad strokes, your nose can be a beak that guides your head around, your movement might be shifting left to right to gather materials for a nest. Have everyone move like a bird! Do this exercise with as many animals as you like. Split the class up and have half move like a bird and half like a lion.
Now that everyone gets the idea. Have the class sit down and have one volunteer move across the floor as an animal of their choice. Can anyone guess the animal? Give every child a turn to move like the animal of their choice. Watch the Lion perform from the famous ballet Carnival of the Animals.
Move with Nature Exercise
This preschool movement activity is great for getting everyone outside! While there are so many fun things to do outside, it can be fun to try something different than the usual swing set or jungle gym. This exercise asks the question, “How can we move with nature?” Not only does this exercise get everyone outside, but it is sensory infused. You will be touching, smelling, and moving through the elements.
When everyone is outside take a look at the things you see. There may be trees, puddles, benches, grass, fountains, bushes, chairs, etc. To start off the exercise pick one thing, for example a small tree with branches. How can we engage with this tree using our movements? Maybe we touch each branch with a hand, maybe we touch each branch with a knee, maybe we use our elbows to brush each left on the tree. We can use our feet to hop only on the roots of the tree. Maybe we circle the tree all the way around but with our backs touching the bark.
Repeat this exercise with different elements you see outside. The biggest crowd pleaser is usually a large puddle. Swipe your hand through it, splash your elbows in it, touch your nose to it, roll your whole body through it. This one is a bit messy, but fun! You can always remove a part of the body. Move with the balance beam, but don’t use your feet!
You can pick one element and give each child the chance to move with/through it and see how each person moves differently. Have everyone watch as each child gets a turn. Another fun way to get creative is to pair up your kids and have them create a dance with nature. Have them pick three elements outside and give them the chance to work together to create a movement plan. Each pair gets a turn to showcase their movement with nature!
The Music Shuffle
I love this movement activity because it exposes your preschoolers to different rhythms of music! Before the activity begins, create a playlist. I like sticking with classical music because I’ve noticed that many kids aren’t exposed to this type of music at home. On your playlist have soft quiet piano music, loud instrumental percussion music, and music with a consistent rhythm.
Before you get moving, sit in a circle and listen to 30 seconds of each piece of music. How does it sound? Is it loud or quiet? How does it make you feel? Do you feel like jumping, swaying, or being still? I love this question because there is no wrong answer! Let’s hear everyone’s thoughts!
Once you’ve listened to the music, have everyone stand up and surprise them with a piece of music. Get moving! Move fast or slow, big or small, glide or twist. As some extra fun, have one child control the music. Have them pick the song, play it for as long as they like, then chance the music. Add as many different pieces of music to the playlist as you like.
Move with Fabric
Moving with fabric is a classic movement activity for all preschoolers to try! This activity is great because it is a chance to build gross motor skills and has a bonus sensory element. There are so many ways to move with fabric, but as a great way to get started just give your little ones a chance to move freely. Give each of them a piece of fabric and have them move it through the air.
Once they’ve had a chance to experiment add another layer to the exercise. Tie the fabric to their arm and have them move it through the air. How does this make the movement chance? Next, tie the fabric to their waist and have them move the fabric through the air. Tie the fabric loosely to different parts of the body. The one that always gets the most laughs is tying the fabric loosely around the head. This makes the movement change a lot!
Split the class into two groups and have one half watch as the other half moves. What changes about the movement when the fabric is tied to different parts of the body? Which movement is the most appealing? Is it harder to move the fabric when it’s tied around your waist verses it tied to your wrist?
Loie Fuller was a famous modern dancer who incorporated fabric into her way of movement. Watch “La Mer” choreographed by Loie Fuller to show your preschoolers the amazing way fabric can express emotion.
Getting your preschoolers moving is an awesome way to build gross motor skills, boost creativity, and engage with the 5 senses. Remember, the most important thing when engaging with these activities is to move! Some preschoolers will catch on the the concepts faster than others. Repetition is key! Be patient, and enjoy the process.
This one is exactly what it sounds like! A great way to get started is to pick a theme for example “What are you doing?” Write down a few ideas on index cards like, “taking out the trash”, “cooking dinner”, “buying sunglasses”, “taking the bus to the mall”, “dancing in a ballet class”, etc. Once you have several cards written, lay them face down in a pile. Have each child take a turn in picking a card and pantomiming the phrase. This activity is great because it gives us a chance to practice sequencing.
Before the movement activity begins. Talk about what the word “pantomime” means. When pantomiming a phrase try to think of a first, second, and third. For example, when you take the buss to the mall, you don’t just sit down on the bus. First, you walk up the couple steps on the bus. Second, you hand the bus driver money. Third, you look for the best seat and sit down. Think about this a bit before you begin your pantomime.
This activity is great for building gross motor skills, acting, and moving! Adapt this activity for your age group. When working with preschoolers, make the movement cards very simple and read it to them before they take center stage. If the first. second, third concept is too difficult, add that to the activity at a later time. The most important thing is to have fun and get moving!
We hope you enjoyed The Best Movement Activities for Preschool. Be sure to check out Why Sensory Play is Important for Preschoolers to gather more ideas to engage your little ones.