Make use of a fun prop that helps develop gross motor or large muscle skills in preschoolers. As adults some of us probably remember the hula hoop as a toy produced and trademarked by the Wham-O Company in the late 50’s. It has been a popular toy through the generations, however the use of hoops has been traced as far back as ancient times when the Greeks used them for exercise.
Hula hoops are readily found in most retail toy stores and online. They are made from plastic and some even have glitter and noisemakers inside. All in all, hula hoops are fun toys that have a mission to exercise the body and mind when partaking in special games. Here are a few ideas to try.
Hoops Can Teach Directional Changes
Provide each child with a hula hoop and two red shapes (a circle and square cut from construction paper). Ask the children in your group to place the hula hoop on the ground where they will have room to move around the hoops. Have the students stand behind the hoop and wait for your commands.
Say, "Can you jump into your hoop with both feet? Can you jump out the other side? Turn around and jump back through." Let them practice jumping and then hopping on one foot in and out of the hoop.
Next play a game where the children place the red circle on the side of the hoop that is to their right. Put the red square to their left. Play the game and ask the children to jump into the hoop and out onto the square, then back again. Emphasize that this is the left side. Do the same routine for the red circle on the right side.
Use directional vocabulary such as inside, outside, right, and left.
Hula Hoop Fun
Here are some game ideas that the children will enjoy with hula hoops:
- The teacher holds the hoop upright and invites the children to run or jump through it.
- Use the hula hoop to play catch as you help the child to roll it back and forth to each other.
- Place the hula hoop down on the ground and ask the preschoolers to place various objects inside and outside of the hoop. This time ask the children to find circle items in the room to put inside the hoop.
- Attach crepe paper streamers to the hoop and let the children dance with them.
- Hang the hula hoop from a tree branch outdoors and have the children practice throwing a ball or bean bags through it. You can also place the hoop down on the floor indoors and partake in a bean bag toss game.
- Take 5 to 10 hoops and place them on the floor in a varied path. Invite the children to hop in and out of the hoops like little frogs hopping to lily pads.
Hula Hoop Sorting Games
For this game place several hoops of different colors on the floor. Place a card in the center of each hoop – use a color, alphabet letter, or number. Ask the children to place objects in the hoop of the same color. Another game would be to place objects or toys that begin with the alphabet letter inside the hoop. The last game is number recognition, where the children will place the same amount of objects inside the hoop that coordinates with the number card.
Hula hoops are wonderful props that help to develop a child’s physical skills via coordination and balance experiences. Cognitive skills can be enhanced as you play learning games using hula hoops to contain objects of certain colors, numbers and letters. No matter how you look at it, hula hoops equal fun!
- Walk, Wiggle & Wave by Dr. Margery A. Kranyik [First Teacher Press, 1991]
- “Ten Ways to Use Hula Hoops for Physical Fitness” http://fitness.preschoolrock.com/index.php/articles/ten-ways-to-use-hula-hoops-for-physical-fitness
- Clip art credit: http://dir.coolclips.com/Entertainment/Fun_Stuff/Toys/Hula-Hoops/little_girl_with_a_hula_hoop_vc004782.html
- The Best of Totline Parent Flyers [Totline Press]
- “Hula Hoops” http://library.thinkquest.org/3205/gather/U960815.192539.html