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Module 4: Active Physical Play

Part 4: Structured and Unstructured Physical Activities

Structured physical activities are intentionally directed by an informed adult. These activities contribute to a child’s basic motor development and enjoyment of movement.

Structured activities can be either indoor or outdoor activities. Examples of structured activities are:

  • Musical games

  • Guided play with homemade props (yarn balls, simple bean bags, paper plate paddles, scoops made from milk cartons)

  • Games such as “Simon Says” or “Follow the Leader”  

Unstructured physical activities are not directed by an adult and are often called “free time” or “self-selected free play,” such as children playing on a playground or stacking blocks inside. Note: Although unstructured activities are not directed by an adult, they should still be supervised by an adult.

Both structured and unstructured physical activities should occur daily.

Select the link below to view an example of unstructured activity. In this video clip the children are engaging in free play. They are playing on their own without an adult directing their activities.

Reflection: Do you ensure that an adult supervises children who are playing independently?

After viewing the video, just close it to return to the course. If viewing the transcript, select the "Go back one page" or the "Close" button to return to the course.

Example of Unstructured Activity (WMV; 00:34)
Example of Unstructured Activity with captions (WMV; 00:34)
Transcript for the Video: Example of Unstructured Activity (DOC)

Using music during structured activities may enhance the level of activity for young children and encourage rhythmic involvement.

Select the link below to view an example of structured activity. In this video clip the teacher directs the physical activity. She has the children move their arms in different ways to make the shape of a circle using streamers. Notice that the teacher also provides positive feedback to the children for their efforts.

Reflection: Do your structured activities contribute to your children's basic motor development?

After viewing the video, just close it to return to the course. If viewing the transcript, select the "Go back one page" or the "Close" button to return to the course.

Example of Structured Activity (WMV; 01:32)
Example of Structured Activity with captions (WMV; 01:32)
Transcript for the Video: Example of Structured Activity (DOC)

Teachers and caregivers should share physical activity ideas with families. Informed parents and teachers can provide both structured and unstructured activities for preschool-aged children.

 

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