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By Jean EvansEarly Years consultant and author

Keep little hands busy while also developing fine manipulative skills with these activities

Boy with brightly coloured balls

Activities in this article:

  1. Let’s explore
  2. Rolling along
  3. Flicky football

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1. Let’s explore

Encourage children to become familiar with words associated with sports and exercise equipment through practical exploration

Communication, Language and Literacy

Language for Communication

Development matters: Build up vocabulary that reflects the breadth of their experiences (30–50 months); Extend vocabulary, especially grouping and naming (40–60+ months).

Early learning goal: Extend their vocabulary, exploring the meaning and sounds of new words.

Group size: Small groups.

What you need

A selection of familiar and unfamiliar sports and exercise equipment, such as bats and balls of different sizes, plastic shuttlecocks, quoits; hoops, baseball mitt, swimming goggles.

What to do

Put the selection of equipment on the floor and invite the children to sit around it. Take turns to choose something and examine it closely. Encourage each child to name the more familiar items and say something about each one before passing it to the next person.

Pair the items up with others where appropriate, for example, a tennis racquet and tennis ball. Introduce the names of any unfamiliar items and explain how they are used.


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