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GETTING THE WIGGLES OUT…. Incorporating Movement Activities for Preschool-Aged Children in Small Spaces. …WITHOUT A LOT OF WIGGLE ROOM!. Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise

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without a lot of wiggle room
Incorporating Movement Activities


Preschool-Aged Children


Small Spaces


Lack of activity destroys the

good condition of every human being,

while movement and

methodical physical exercise

save it and preserve it.

- Plato


“We are underexercised as a nation.

We look instead of play. We ride instead of walk.Our existence deprives us of the minimum of physical activity essential for healthy living.” 

~ John F. Kennedy, 1961

“Physical fitness is not only one of

the most important keys to a

healthy body, it is the basis

of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

childhood obesity a weighty issue

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled,

and today, approximately 1 in 5

four-year-old children in America

is obese. 

Childhood obesity – a weighty issue

Why should we include movement

activities in our library programs?

Movement is essential to young children’s development!

Physical movement is part of the foundation of mental and physical growth.

(Bev Bos, 125)

physical activity

Why increase physical activity?

  • Helps learning – cognitive, social-emotional
  • Development of motor skills
  • Builds confidence
  • Improves basic skills
  • It’s fun!

Is it developmentally appropriate to expect young children (2-4 years old) to sit still for 30+ minutes at a time?

  • Is it healthy?
  • Is it desirable?

Young children learn

with their bodies –

(sensorimotor) –

movement helps children

understand abstract

concepts & vocabulary





-Tom Hunter


Children (especially preschool-aged) naturally have lots of energy and enthusiasm –

they move because they NEED to!

Many are not given appropriate physical outlets

for this abundant energy!

(spend many hours sedentary - sitting, waiting, standing in line, watching tv, sitting in car seats)

even older children –sitting in school all day, some without recess or P.E.…

  • Preschool children need at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity

AND at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity each day!

the most dangerous form of sitting however is sitting still and for long periods of time
The most dangerous form of sitting, however, is sitting still and for long periods of time.

Fig. 1: If a body is permanently inactive, brain activity is reduced.

from early literacy storytimes @ your library

MANY preschoolers are


Staff may ask,

“What should I do

‘when squirmers won’t

sit still!’”?

Get all of the children moving together throughout storytime rather than SQUELCH them as they learn the way they do best.

-From Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library


Bookmobile Librarian

was on to something!

Storytime outside the Bookmobile-Notice how she does not require that they all sit still or lined up in neat rows…I love this!
get those wiggles out

It is not difficult to add

stretches and movement

activities to your current

library programs,

especially those attended

by very young children.

Get those wiggles out!
from transition magician
- From Transition Magician
  • Tune into children’s behavior – their restlessness should send a message that you need to take a break from what you are doing
  • Change the pace BEFOREchildren need it – Triple A strategy (Anticipate, Act, Avert)
  • Empathize with children’s restlessness – For example, “I like what we’re doing, but I think I need to get up & get my wiggles out…”
  • Use props (streamers, beanbags, etc.) as motivators
  • PARTICIPATE in the stretching activity yourself!
  • Give children guidelines before stretchers – For example, “when I give signal, we will stop…”
  • Resettle children after stretch

Sports, Play & Active Recreation for Kids

3 All-Day Training Workshops held for

Early Childhood teachers & caregivers

  • 8 Equipment Sets purchased for checkout by child care centers, preschools, Head Starts, & in libraries

storytime stretchers

Transform listeners into participants!

Engage children with

  • Appropriate physical activities
  • Active storytime (book selections)
  • Stretching, songs, fingerplays,

action rhymes (“I’m a little teapot”)

  • Older children – games
  • Other suggestions?
Storytime Stretchers
animal walk

You can add more

movement and exercise

very simply…

using no extra equipment,

things you already have at

your library, or things

you can obtain at

little or no cost.

Animal Walk
active storytimes

Manychildren’s books lend themselves to

active participation, whether by acting out the movements during the story

or interpreting the actions afterwards

during a stretch break.


If we do these, they will be able to (WANT TO) sit longer & for longer stories – develop attention span & self-regulationImplement movement activities safely and in a manner that encourages appropriate behavior and sustained attention to stories and early literacy activities

body awareness space awareness

In order to have self-control, a child first needs a physical sense of self (Learning where their bodies begin & end)

  • Naming body parts, pat-a-cake, fingerplays, hand-clapping games
  • Each time you do these types of activities, you are helping children develop these skills
We must not prevent children from running but show them how to run with consideration for others –Bev Bos (122)
Get them Moving…

Watch them Learning!

your brilliant ideas


  • Feedback
  • Suggestions
  • Opinions
YOUR Brilliant Ideas?

Victoria Penny,

Early Childhood Services Coordinator

First Regional Library