Preschool teachers can introduce their students to the benefits of regular exercise by planning a physical fitness preschool theme. The concept of physical fitness can be integrated into reading, math, music and art lesson plans. Preschoolers will enjoy learning about ways to keep the body healthy.
Reading/Circle Time Activities
Teachers can begin a lesson plan on physical fitness by explaining to the children why exercise is important for strengthening their bones and muscles. The children can pass around photographs of people playing sports, running or biking outdoors, exercising in a gym, and doing aerobics. During the discussion, each child can take a turn telling the class about a favorite physical activity.
Preschool teachers can also use reading or circle time as an opportunity to share books on physical fitness with the children. Two age-appropriate books that explain the benefits of regular exercise are Being Active by Mari C. Schuh and Spriggles Motivational Books For Children: Activity & Exercise by Jeff and Martha Gottlieb.
Physical Fitness Math Game
Fitness and math concepts can be combined during this simple and fun game for preschoolers:
- Gather flash cards printed with the numbers 1 through 10, and shuffle them into a pile.
- Allow the children to take turns drawing a number from the pile. Ask each child to name the number out loud, and then perform a corresponding number of short exercises. For example, if a student draws the number 6, say, "Touch your toes six times". Suggestions for exercises can include walking in a circle around a chair, doing jumping jacks, or hopping up and down.
Music Time Exercises
Music and movement activities can easily be incorporated into a physical fitness lesson plan. Preschool children will have a great time moving to the beat and getting some exercise!
The audio CD Physical Ed by The Learning Station contains songs that encourage children to get in shape. Play songs such as "Stretch", "Run and Walk", and "Stomp and Clamp" while showing preschoolers how to exercise.
The Exercise Party CD provides energetic background music for children's dancing games. Songs on this CD include "You Can Dance", "Hop Along Song", and "Do The Bird".
"Exercise With Me"
Teachers can sing this exercise song to the students, changing the words as needed to introduce a new exercise:
"Exercise with me, exercise with me,
_______ on the count of three! One, two, three...."
Physical Fitness Art Activity
During art time, preschoolers can use construction paper and crayons to illustrate their favorite ways to exercise. Teachers can introduce this art activity by asking the children to draw individual pictures of themselves getting fit and healthy. For example, a student could draw himself playing a game of soccer or climbing a tree, or draw herself doing ballet or gymnastics. The teacher can write "I stay physically fit by _____" at the bottom of each picture, and can then ask the children to describe their illustrations to the class. The drawings can then be displayed on a bulletin board with a fitness and exercise theme.
Children who engage in physical fitness activities will be prepared to take part in physical education classes throughout grade school. Teachers can plan a physical fitness preschool theme as a way to emphasize the importance of taking care of their bodies and good health.
Schuh, Mari. Being Active. Capstone Press, 2006.
Gottlieb, Jeff and Martha. Spriggles Motivational Books For Children: Activity and Exercise. Mountain Watch Press, 2001.
Physical Ed. Learning Station, 2000.