In support of the launch of the In2Hula Hoop with Heart programme for early learning services on 3 April, this week’s blog is about ways in which children can play with hula hoops.
Children (and adults) have been playing with hoops since ancient times. Hula Hoops enjoyed a rush of popularity in the 1950’s when the first plastic hoops were mass produced in America, but have continued to be enjoyed since. Hula hoops are versatile and inexpensive, and they are also colourful, fun and attractive for children. Moreover hula hoops can be used inside or out. All this makes them a great tool to encourage younger ones to engage in active play. Here are four activity ideas to get everyone ‘hoopy’.
The essence of musical hoop activities is that the children move to music around a set of hoops that are flat on the ground and step into one of the hoops and stand still when the music stops. The children can walk, skip or dance around the hoops, or you can encourage them to move around in certain ways such as happily, angrily or sadly, or as certain things such as a ninja, lion or dinosaur.
With children age 5 and under it is enough to simply move and stop with the music. For older children you can play this as an elimination game like musical chairs and take one hoop away each round.
Put a line of 3-5 hoops on the floor and then line up behind the first hoop. Put on some high energy music and take turns dancing through the hoops. Children can simply jump from hoop to hoop, or skip, or cartwheel, or pirouette, or do the mashed potato. Let your imagination flow, challenge each other, and laugh together at each other’s crazy moves.
In the River
Put a line of hoops along the ground with one hoop for each child playing the game. Children start by standing inside their hoop. A leader who is not playing calls the instructions of either “out of the river” or “in the river”. When the instruction is “out of the river” then everyone playing the game jumps to the side of their hoop. When the instruction is “in the river” then everyone jumps inside their hoop. The aim of the game is for the leader to trick the people playing into making the wrong move. With children age 5 and older you can play this as an elimination game where anyone who makes the wrong move, and the last person to make the right move, is eliminated. For children age 8 and over you can add in a third instruction. Instead of the instruction “out of the river”, use the two instructions “in the rushes” for the right side of the hoops and “in the leaves” for the left side of the hoops.
Issue a series of hoop balancing challenges to the children, and then get them to think of some of their own. Younger children can simply try doing the challenges. With older children you can do timed challenges, or competitions to see who can hold the balance for the longest. Here are some ideas to get started with:
- Lift one leg straight out in front of you and hang a hoop over your ankle. See if you can stand on one leg balancing a hoop this way.
- Hold a hoop up vertically in front of you with the bottom resting on the ground. Move your feet back until you are leaning over to hold onto the hoop and your back is flat like a table. Lift one leg up off the ground and stretch it out behind you.
- Hop on one foot around the outside of the hula hoop
- balance a vertical hoop on the palm of your outstretched hand
Remember to join in with the kids and have fun yourself.