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Movement and self regulation for young children


Movement is very important for helping children increase their control over their own thoughts, emotional responses and actions. The following movement activities are fun and can be introduced easily into the day.

Movement Activity: Imagine You Are……

Resources needed: Clear space.

Instructions: This game helps children do traditional stretches in a creative and fun way. These stretches can be done individually or in pairs.

Imagine you are a whisk

Get the children to stand in a circle and put their hands over their head. They join their hands together and move them around in a large circle. Initially, they move their hands in a clockwise direction and when the group is comfortable moving in this direction, get them to move their hands in an anticlockwise direction.

Imagine you are an inchworm

Get the children to bend down and put their hands on the ground. Next, get them to walk their hands out in front of them until they are supporting their own body weight. The children get into a push up position.  They walk their feet up to their hands and then they continue walking their hands out and walking their feet up to their hands until they have moved to the other side of the room. Make sure that they have their own space and don’t bump into one another.

Imagine you are a car wiper

Get the children to lie on the ground. When they are comfortable get them to put their legs in the air. Slowly they move both legs from one side to another.

Imagine you are a cat stretching

Get the children to put their hands and feet are on the floor, arch their back high in the air and stretch.

Imagine you are a giant

Get the children to take a big step and lunge on each step.

Imagine you are a marching soldier

Get the children to swing their arms and bring their legs up to their chest on each step.

Imagine you are a leaping frog

Get the children to squat down. They put their hands between their knees and jump around the space.

Movement Activity: Movement Sequences

Resources needed: Clear space.

Instructions: The teacher discusses with the children different ways of moving. He/she asks the children to come up with as many ways to move as possible.

Suggestions for different ways to move:















Walk sideways

Walk backwards

The children will come up with many more ways of moving than those listed above.  The teacher calls out different movement sequences such as



Extension: If the children are older then give them an opportunity to be the leader and call out their own movement sequences.


Movement Activity: Butterflies

Resources needed: Classical music pieces, scarves or dance fans

Other Benefits: Co-ordination, energy, focus, trust.

Instructions: Give the children two colourful scarves and encourage them to fly around like butterflies to the classical music. Butterflies is an excellent activity for children to use their imagination. Most children will love classical music if they are introduced to it at an early stage.

Suggestion of classical music pieces:

Carmen Overture, Georges Bizet

In the Hall of the Mountain King, Edward Grieg

The Flight of the Bumble Bee, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, Henry Hall Orchestra

The Nutcracker, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Four Seasons, Antonio Vivaldi

Carnival of the Animals, Camille Saint Saens

Hoe-Down, Aaron Copland

Hungarian Dance No.5, Johannes Brahms


The above activities are from Movement Start by Julie Meighan.

Movement Stories for children ages 3 to 6 by Helen Landalf


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