Hello from Janesville, the City of Parks! Whether it is a small neighborhood open space, a wheelchair accessible play structure, or a state park, there are so many wonderful ways to play at the park!
Play is the best way to grow and develop! We learn better when playing, and this is especially true for young children. Play provides great opportunities to work on multiple areas at the same time.
Nursery rhymes with actions build language skills as well as improve strength and coordination. Scavenger hunts can incorporate fun sensory input while working on sequencing and visual skills.
Playing on playground equipment is a natural way to provide proprioceptive (sensations in the muscles and joints) and vestibular (balance, movement and position) input that many kids seek, while also giving great opportunities to practice social interactions.
Being able to play outside has proven benefits. Research has confirmed what many of us have experienced. Being in nature improves physical health, concentration, coordination, emotional well-being, and social skills.
There are so many things to observe and explore. There are limitless opportunities for low-cost sensory play while outside. Bark, leaves, flowers, grass, dirt, and rocks all have different textures, temperatures, smells, and colors that can be explored.
These also provide great ways to promote language skills, such as vocabulary, categorization, and rhyming. Parks with playgrounds also provided great social interactions. While outside, we can improve gross motor and coordination skills by walking or running on uneven surfaces, climbing on rocks, moving logs or digging in sand or dirt. Climbing up ladders to get into a jungle gym or before going down a slide is also a great activity for motor planning, coordination, and lower extremity strength.
If there are any hills at the park, running up and down going forwards, backwards, or sideways is a fantastic way to build up strength and endurance for kiddos! Playing catch at the park can assist with ball skills and bilateral upper extremity coordination as well as social skills playing with peers. Kicking a ball at the park can work on single leg balance, coordination, and motor planning as well. The sky is the limit!
Here are some of our favorite ways to play at the park:
- Nursery rhymes/Finger play: Itsy Bitsy Spider, 5 Little Speckled Frogs, Bumble Bee, 5 Little Ducks, The Bee Hive, Slowly Slowly, Very Slowly Creeps the Garden Snail
- Scavenger hunt: Find objects of different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures.
- Obstacle course: Go under slides, weave around bushes, climb over rocks, stomp through sand, duck under trees.
- Games with friends: catch, Frisbee, Red Light Green Light, Duck Duck Goose (Or Duck Duck Grey Duck)!
Join us in playing outside! Tell us about your favorite park, and show us the cool things you discover. We can’t wait to find out how you are enjoying the park!
Written By: The CI Janesville Team!