Friday, February 3, 2012

Some Simple Parachute Play!

by Pam @ How Long is This Hall?!

We love parachute games in my preschool special education classroom! Pulling out the parachute brings laughter and squeals of excitement from just about everyone! Sometimes, it seems that with the continual push for earlier academics, we forget that these seemingly simple activities have been staples of early childhood for such a long time for a very good reason!

Using movement, music and social interaction is a sure fire way to help children learn! For those worried about children mastering some of those more memorized skills such as color recognition, shape recognition, letter and letter sounds, counting and one to one correspondence, the parachute can be used to reinforce these skills in a fun, non-threatening way for children with and without special needs.

For children with challenges with movement, the parachute also provides an opportunity to move objects with even a slight movement from the child. The children have the benifit of standing side by side with other children who may be able to assist with the movement of the objects without ever realizing that they are doing anything more than enjoying play with friends! The parachute also offers flexibility! We often sit on the floor with our feet under the parachute and kick up and down to make the parachute move like waves!

For children who struggle with social interactions, the parachute provides a perfect social opportunity! The children are naturally facing eachother and working together. There are natural opportunities for imitation, eye contact, smiles and communication!

Because of all these things, the parachute is a perfect way to engage children of various ages and abilities in a group activity that is both structured and open ended enough to offer the children multiple ways and things to learn while playing!

Many different items can be put on top of the parachute to bounce and move about. We've had the most fun with:
  • leaves (fabric and real in Autumn),
  • stuffed animals (various kinds to represent different topics, to sing songs and for beginning sounds etc.)
  • cotton balls (as pretend "snow")
  • light/heavy balls (to explore the difference in weight)
  • and balloons (for work on color recognition)

The parachute can also be used to help reinforce letters and letter sounds:   "If your name starts with A, run under the parachute" or for sounds: "If your name starts with 'a,a,a' run under the parachute."

The parachute can be used to help reinforce other basic learning: "If you are a BOY, sit under the parachute."

The parachute can be used to emphasize spatial words: under, on top, up, down, above...

We often count HOW MANY balls, balloons or other objects are put on the parachute. We also often count to a designated number before we shake the parachute. Of course, this is not only a practice in rote counting, one to one coorespondence but also a practice in self regulation!

We are also crossing midline during parachute play. We often increase this work by singing songs such as The Itsy Bitsy Spider with movements. We move the parachute side to side and up and down with the rhythm of the song.
We learned this from one of our wonderful music therapists and it reminds me of conducting an orchastra! Here is how we interpret this for the Itsy Bitsy Spider:
The Itsy Bitsy (side to side)
Spider (up and down)
Went up the water (side to side)
Spout. (up and down)
Down came the (side to side)
Rain...and (up and down)
...washed the spider (side to side)
out. (up and down)
Out came the (side to side)
sun...and (up and down)
...dried up all the (side to side) (up and down)
...the itsy bitsy (side to side)
spider (up and down)
went up the spout (side to side)
again. (up and down)
But then again, a colorful new sheet would be just as much fun to move and shake and could even be swapped out for different patterns when exploring various topics (example frog sheets, bug sheets etc.). So if you don't have access to a parachute, don't let that stop you!  Whether you have a huge multi-classroom parachute, a small parachute or a sheet to hold on to, enjoy experimenting with ways to move and learn while using the parachute!

Stop in at my blog How Long is This Hall?! to see some of our fun with parachute play with fabric autumn leaves or our winter clothing parachute play. 


  1. Pam what a wonderful way to extend parachute experiences. All too often I see the same games & songs used at such times. You have provided a great list of fresh ideas for many, including me. Now everyone will be wanting to get their parachute out.
    Well done!

  2. Love your ideas and comments!

  3. Pam... I LOVE Parachutes and the images you shared speak to me of joy and exploration....great stuff. Thanks!

  4. I LOVE parachute play ... and your ideas are awesome, Pam! I used to use a parachute when I had a Montessori school and for homeschool co-op events when I homeschooled my kids. I pinned your post to my Kids' Creative Movement Activities Pinterest board at

  5. Today is the the anniversary of the invention of the parachute. Although it was the perfect day for parachute play outside we are holding off on the activities until next week when we are focusing on rainbows and shamrocks. The parachute is a great way to work on the color wheel and talk about colors.

  6. awesome I put-off buying this for months, despite positive reviews.

  7. parachute play is an exciting idea to make children learn many things in a simple way.Can anybody pls tell how we can make parachute.


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