acepuppets

Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category


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Children already find school really exciting, what with imaginative play, spending time with your friends, practising kissing and of course school playground equipment. After a hard morning doing maths and English, being able to play on school playground equipment is a welcome break. School playground equipment has a duel purpose in the playground and the variety of pieces available reflects this.  School playground equipment can be used to support the curriculum and as entertainment during playtimes.

Music

Children can have music lessons outside with a number of outdoor musical instruments that are both robust and produce pretty good sounds.  Teachers can feel relieved that they don’t have to control the infernal noise generated by music lessons and can have a natural stance to the lessons.  During playtime, children can practice what they have learnt during lessons because the instruments are easily accessible.  Schools can purchase outdoor musical instruments as a group or individual pieces.  If the instruments are dotted around the playground children will, ‘discover’, them at playtime and create music of their own.  If the instruments are installed near to each other,  they are perfect for having a summer music lessons.  Generally choices are made according to space available and the size of the school budget.

Environmental

Teaching children about the environment can often be an abstract affair which can make it difficult to comprehend.  Playground companies have recognised this and developed ranges of planters, compost makers, bird feeders and bug hotels.  Children will be able to plant and nurture seeds while watching them grow every time they go out at playtime.  They will be able to observe birds and see how garden waste is recycled to make food for new plants.  This type of playground equipment is really useful if the school is in an urban area and there isn’t much greenery in the playground.  Also the raised beds mean that they are not prone to having too many unwanted visitors.

Story Telling

Children actually like telling stories, they may not be as keen writing them down but the fact that they love the sound of their own voice means that they love to share stories.  Many schools have story telling corners which are centred around a storytelling chair.  Children can either listen to stories being told to them or they could take it in turns to share stories with the class.  The teacher can guide the children so that they are not so long winded.  Eventually children will start incorporating their story telling skills in their writing.

Balance And Coordination

Using climbing walls and climbing frames teaches children an awful lot about how their body works.  Children see their friends scaling the playground equipment and set themselves goals to be as good as their friends.  In the past climbing frames in school playgrounds were quite terrifying but now they are accessible for all children to enjoy.  Just negotiating different equipment allows children to explore their limits and train their body’s so that they can achieve their personal goal.

Next time you are waiting for your children at the end of the day – have a sneaky peak at the school playground equipment – you will wish that your school playground was just as exciting.

 


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These days it would seem that the Nicky Morgan and Jeremy Hunt make policies without actually talking to each other.  We are given such mixed messages when it comes to developing our children’s minds and bodies.  On the one hand the Education Minister wants to increase the amount of academic work our children do, including dreaded homework. On the other hand,  the Health Minister keeps telling us we are too fat and children don’t get enough exercise.  The amount of opportunities children have to free play and therefore exercise is decreasing with every new target that is added to the OFSTED process.

Tracey Crouch, the Sports Minister, tried to convince us that the Olympic games would make athletes of us all.  There was a little increase in sports participation but nothing to get excited about.  Our medalists didn’t inspire us to exercise more, rather they encouraged us to; open new bank accounts, eat Quorn and watch, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.  All of these activities could be done at home on the sofa and failed miserable to get anyone excited about sport. apparently there is no single reason why people don’t participate in exercise more.

School trim trails, climbing frames, climbing walls and many other pieces of playground equipment adorn our school playgrounds now, yet children are not getting as much time in the school day to play freely. In the late 70’s and early 80’s when I was at school our playground equipment consisted of a dangerous climbing frame, a huge field, crystal draining stones in a filled in stream, grass cuttings and magnifying glasses.  Incidentally the exercise we got from the magnifying glasses was running away from the dinner ladies when we used them to melt black bin bags.  If it was sunny we would go out and play rounders or cricket on the field.  If it was snowing we took our sledges to the nearest hill and didn’t worry that we were missing English or Maths.

These days, unless an activity has got a significant number of learning outcomes and can be incorporated into a success criteria anything that doesn’t have a box to tick doesn’t count as learning.  The notion that exercise has to be formal and that you should achieve some sort of accolade for participating in it is suffocating our love of sport.  My brother and I spent one summer holiday playing in our grandparent’s empty coal bunker, it was great because the adults couldn’t get to us and we got filthy.  The amount of agility and strength required to get in and out of a coal bunker is quite a lot, we slept well at night and fat kids can’t fit into coal bunkers.

We all probably interfere far more in our children’s lives than our parents did in ours.  For some reason we treat children like they are made of fine china and neither their feelings or their bodies should be hurt.  I had bruises and scuffed knees for most of my childhood – I didn’t get upset about it and our parents were caring but accepted that it was part of childhood.  Now I am terrified of my son getting bruised and scuffed simply because I am afraid of being judge as a bad parent.

Play is definitely the secret to getting children to exercise more because it is so flexible and the imagination takes away the boredom of training.  When I watch my son and puppy playing together they are both exercising but because they are playing then don’t realize it.


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I admit that I am pretty lazy at the moment and the thought of walking in the cold and rain doesn’t appeal to me what so ever.  Nine years ago I didn’t have any qualms about putting on wet weather gear and walking everywhere. That was until I finally passed my driving test and now I have become so reliant on my car,  walking seems to be so, ‘yesterday’,  in terms of transport.  It would seem that I am not the only lazy so and so in the land because the country as a whole has become more sedentary and we are all sitting on our backsides more.

Since technology has become more interesting and the internet is user friendly we can explore images and talk to people all over the world.  I have even noticed that I know lots about local Facebook friends lives but don’t actually say more than, hello’, to them when I seem them.  I waste more time now devoting myself to rubbish online than I ever did in the past.  My backside is definitely getting bigger and I need to get into my summer clothes this year.

There are many reasons beside having a huge bum as to why we should exercise more and these include:-

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
  • Source NHS Choices

This information is reinforced by an article by Playdale Playgrounds, ‘How to help your community with a trim trail‘, in it they discuss a study by Oxford university who found that ,‘Forty four per cent admit to not taking part in any moderate exercise meaning that British fitness levels are among the worst in Europe’. This means that nearly five million adults spend the majority of the day sitting down. 10% of adults admitted to not even walking for at least ten minutes a day‘. They also referred to a study by Cambridge University who claimed that sitting down all day was worse for our health than obesity.

As parents it is our responsibility to set a good example to our children, although they seem to pick up our bad habits better than our good ones. (That’s because underneath we are all pretty naughty pretending to be good!). There are some simple ways that we can encourage our children to put down their gadgets and get moving. As the weather gets brighter it will be much easier to go out and reduce the size of our big bums.

 

 

 


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Toddlers do it, puppies do it and crazy adults playing drinking games do it – we all love spinning around in circles until we get dizzy.  My son used to purposely run round in circles saying he was trying to make himself dizzy before collapsing onto the sofa.  Another favourite activity is spinning on an office chair and we have all had great fun making playground roundabouts go faster and faster.

Why do we like spinning? Being the peculiar creatures we are – we just like the giddy feeling spinning causes.  As well as causing the state of the brain to temporarily change, spinning stimulates part of the brain that trains the body how to balance – this is called vestibular stimulation.  The same part of the brain is trained through swinging, hanging upside down and rocking.

Children are completely unaware that so many scientific things are happening to their brains when they spin because they just do it for pure enjoyment.  When your toddler decides that it it is is time for vestibular stimulation make sure that you encourage them to do it where they cannot get hurt or break your favourite vase. There are a number of ways you can get into a spin and have extra fun at the same time:-

  1. Roll down banking – choose one that is not too steep without too many obstacles in the way.
  2. Go on a playground roundabout – they are really safe now and some even have space for wheelchairs.
  3. Go on a fairground ride like the carousel or the waltzers if you are extra daring.
  4. Spin around when you are dancing, spread your arms out for more balance.
  5. Go Zorbing – this is a spinning activity for grown ups but try it if you dare.

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And for those of you who are curious about what the drinking game is (and what your teenage sons maybe up to) here is a video clip of what I am talking about.


#nowhere2play

The Association Of Play Industries (API) have become greatly concerned with the lack of play facilities for children, particularly in urban areas, and are conducting a survey to find out from parents the state of play facilities in their area.  The campaign is called #nowhere2play and is supported by Playdale Playgrounds Ltd who are experts in designing play equipment and installing it all over the world.

Do your children have public spaces to play in?  Even in the countryside we are seeing green patches of land being swallowed up by housing estates and school playgrounds sold off to building companies.  Is your local playground somewhere where you and your children like to meet friends and have fun or has it become dilapidated and rarely used.  The Association Of Play Industries (API) have become greatly concerned with the lack of play facilities for children, particularly in urban areas, and are conducting a survey to find out from parents the state of play facilities in their area.  The campaign is called #nowhere2play and is supported by Playdale Playgrounds Ltd who are experts in designing play equipment and installing it all over the world.

We are pretty lucky in this part of Cumbria, as there are plenty of places for children to play, and the majority of playgrounds are well resourced and maintained by committees. In Carlisle funding cuts meant that the council considered bulldozing unused playgrounds down, leaving spaces for imaginative play.  This article in metro.co.uk explains their intentions. I am not sure if they followed through with this plan or were stopped in their tracks.  To be fair the council were only considering removing playgrounds that were rarely used anyway as opposed to ones that were the meeting place of children in particular areas.

Are playgrounds used less these days because we are reluctant to let our children wander from our sight when they are playground age? There are significantly more cars than there used to be, causing us to be more overprotective than we may have been in the past. We are in an age where we fear strangers hanging around our children and allowing them to go and play out of our sight in a playground where there is no one to protect them scary.  Children don’t really gain independence until they are in the upper juniors or starting secondary school, depending on how sensible they are.

As the population of the UK increases we find our selves in a space paradox, we will have more families so we need more houses, we will have more children so we need play areas but the houses have been built on the land that was once a playground.  If children don’t get the opportunity to play outside they become obese and cost the NHS milions so what do we do?


Last night I watched a pretty shocking and sad documentary on Channel 4. ‘Junk Food Kids: Who’s To Blame?’ . It would seem that now one third of British children are overweight or obese. Also, stemming from this, which you might not really think about is the number of kids who are having to undergo drastic dental treatment due to rotten teeth caused by their diet.

The show, unsurprisingly, sparked a lot of activity on social media. Twitter was filled with people angry that ‘Who’s to blame?’ was even a question that needed to be asked and I have to say I agree with them. Parents must take responsibility for their child’s health.

The basics of it are that junk food is cheap, quick and easy. Alongside that, for some people taking their kids outside and entertaining them rather than leaving them infront of the tv may seem like all too much hard work. Small amounts of exercise do wonders of good whether it’s running around the garden, a quick trip to the playground or something more structured like a sports club or class.


Did you see the documentary? Here’s a trailer if you missed it. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1159782/Watch-trailer-Junk-Food-Kids-Whos-To-Blame.html