Wiggling, Giggling, and Moving from Head to Toe: Books to Encourage Exercise
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By: Pamela Sullivan
Physical activity is important for the health and well-being of children. Not only does staying active help children keep fit, but it helps children form active habits that last into adulthood. Physical activity also helps children develop large and small muscle skills that form the basis of their ability to be active later.
Why incorporate movement through children’s books?
Children love books and children love to move. And reading together and moving together are good for children and families. Some books describe movements within the story that serve as an inspiration. Others contain a rhyme or refrain that is fun to move to. Here are some examples:
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle Harper Collins, 2000 (Suggested ages 1-4) Children and animals demonstrate body movements from head to toe. Each page shows a child following an animal’s lead in moving a body part and includes this question inviting children to move, “Can you do it?”
The words and the pictures invite children to move. "I am a penguin and I turn my head. Can you do it?" "I can do it!"
- The picture word combinations and simple movements will be easy for most children to follow.
- Vocabulary (body parts, terms that describe different ways of moving )
- Teaches your child how to follow directions
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams; HarperCollins, 1986 (Suggested ages 3-7) A little old lady goes into the woods one fall evening and gets a surprise when she encounters pieces of clothing that seem intent on scaring her. But this little old lady isn’t scared of anything, so she and the clothes must decide what to do.
On the refrain: act out each article of clothing and it’s movement. You can stomp for the shoes going ‘clomp, clomp’. You can walk quickly like the Little Old Lady as she tries to avoid the clothes.
- A variety of movements, ranging from stomping feet, to nodding and clapping hands.
- Phonological awareness - the ability to hear the sounds that make up words in spoken language( clomp, clap, boo)
- Vocabulary word (herbs, spices, path, whistled)
- Comprehension (sequencing – putting the events of a story in order, retelling)
Silly Sally by Audrey Wood; HMH Publishers, 1999 (Suggested ages 3-6) Silly Sally goes to town and meets a cast of characters on the way. Although Sally starts off ‘backwards, upside down’, she plays with each character she meets along the way.
What to do:
- Wear your ‘Sally Hair’ (red or orange yarn)!
- Make sure you have enough space to move!
- Walk, march and move backward following the movements described in the story.
- Take turns being Neddy Buttercup, ticking until you ‘wake up’.
- Gross motor skills (marching, jumping, dancing)
- Literacy benefits:
- Vocabulary (jig, loon, tune)
- Following directions
- Phonological awareness (rhyme)
- Comprehension (sequencing, retelling events)
Zoom by Diane Adams
Oh! By Kevin Henkes
Shake my Sillies Out by Raffi
Honey, Honey, Lion! By Jan Brett
About the Author: Pamela Sullivan is an Assistant Professor of Reading at James Madison University. She is also the mother of a ‘wiggly, giggly’ five-year-old.