Parachute activities are always enticing to kids. They’re great for building motor strength and control, as well as self-control. They also strengthen the child’s ability to listen to and follow directions and to work with others as a group, all great social skills. Parachutes don’t have to cost much. I picked up a small, 6 foot version, to be used in small spaces and with groups of 10 or less children for about $10 (see where to order it here). You could also just use a bed sheet instead of a parachute.
Whichever type of parachute you use, begin by explaining that it is very important for the children to listen carefully, follow directions, and work together to make the parachute activities work. Start out with the parachute spread out on the floor. Have the children find a handle and pull the parachute out flat. Have everyone slowly touch their toes, then stretch up to the sky. You could also have them all turn to their left and do a variety of locomotor moves (walk, tip-toe, hop, etc.) to make the parachute spin. Then practice shaking the parachute. First softly and slowly, then more quickly and wildly. Practice intermittent stopping to check for listening and control.
Once you feel the children are getting the hang of the directions, tell them you are all going to be moving the parachute like the wind. Sometimes the wind is calm, soft and slow (move parachute accordingly), sometimes it is wild and fast, and sometimes it stops altogether. Now, in the fall, something very interesting happens when the wind blows. The leaves fall from the trees and dance in the wind!
Having the children hold the parachute still, place some leaves in the center of the parachute (I used artificial leaves so they can be reused throughout the month). Have the children move the leaves about in the wind by moving the parachute as before. They will have to listen very closely to your signals and work together. As the wind blows gently, the leaves should stay on the parachute. Stronger winds will send the leaves flying and the children giggling! After a big stormy, strong wind, stop and have the children “rake” up the leaves that have blown off of the parachute. The children will love doing this activity over and over again!
After a parachute activity, you can easily transition to circle time. Have the children stretch the parachute out flat and and then sit down. Have the children set the parachute down and you pick it up from the center. Abra-cadabra, the kiddos are already in perfect circle formation for the next activity! You may want to follow up with the Autumn Leaves Song and a great book like Leaf Man.
For more favorite fall activities, click here!