Our preschool classroom is located in a strip mall. We have no playground to play on, and only a small grass area between the parking lot and the road to play in. Needless to say, we only go outside a couple times per year (usually for fire drills, or to do sidewalk chalk outside the door). We also don’t have a gym.
How do we help children get their energy out? We do action songs, stretching, and/or breathing exercises at every group time. The area we use for Circle Time is also our Large Motor area during free choice time. Every couple weeks, we rotate what children can do in that area. Sometimes, it’s a trampoline or balance beam, other times, we might have something like bowling or basketball.
Children usually play appropriately, but it sometimes gets a little out of control with balls flying or rolling all over. This one time, we let the boys be a little rambunctious, and we were amazed with what happened next.
In a class of 4-5 year olds, a group of three boys started playing what appeared to be a real game of basketball (but with 2 balls). The boys were attempting to block each other, were trying to get the ball from each other, and make baskets. They were cheering for each other when they made it (even if they were on the opposite “team”).
One of the boys was acting as both player and ref. He would stop the game with a “Time Out”, tell them to come back in the lines, then would pretend to blow a whistle, and throw the ball in the air, as if for tip off. What shocked all three teachers in the room, was not only the level they were taking this game to, but that they were following each other’s directions, and no one was getting hurt feelings when the ball got taken away from them.
Other children came in and out of their game. They played for a good 10-15 minutes (if not longer). All the children involved had red cheeks, and were sweating by the time it was time to clean up.
In all the years we’ve been teaching together, we always dread basketball week, because it usually turns into children throwing balls all over the room, getting out of control, and we have to put the balls away for the day because all other attempts at redirection fail. Not this year!
This amazing “game” of basketball in our classroom was a wonderful glimpse of what CAN happen when you let children get a little more “wild” with their play. It has never turned to this before.
What’s even more amazing, is that it happened again the next day with our 3-4 year olds! We couldn’t believe it!!