Play with Parachutes!

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When I was a kid, I thought parachutes came from a magic closet that my teacher only had access to on the most super-duper special of days. Well, was I wrong. Turns out any ol' person can get a parachute and play with it, whenever they want! Well, what are we waiting for? Time to get us... I mean, our kids, a parachute, and bring something new and exciting to outside play time.

First up, you may be asking, where do you get a parachute? Well, you can buy one made especially for play (like these for example) or find a retired, real parachute on eBay. Heavy-duty parachutes (like the kind from army supply stores) are much too heavy if you are playing with toddlers. Keep in mind that a larger parachute will need more people surrounding it for most games, but if you go too small, it won't really be very fun for anyone (6 feet is too small). I would suggest buying a parachute that is at least 12 feet in diameter.

Now it's time to familiarize yourself with some games. Here are a few favorites:

  • Popcorn: put a number of small, lightweight items (like small balls or even cotton balls) on the parachute and get everyone to bounce them up and down.

  • Parachute tag: Call two names. Everyone lifts the parachute high and lets it slowly fall down. Those two kids must trade spots by running under the parachute before it falls down on them.

  • Mushroom: While standing, everyone holds the parachute at their waist. Then on the count of three, raise the parachute as high as you can and duck underneath, sitting down on the edge. The parachute will make a mushroom shape with all of the kids underneath.

  • Make waves: Have the kids make small, bigger and biggest waves on your command.

  • Ball roll: If your parachute has a hole at the center, put some balls on the top and have kids roll them around...but don't let them fall through the middle!

If you are looking for more game ideas, check out these lists of games at MrGymYouthworkPractice, and KidActivities.net.

Now, all that's left is to invite some friends over! Parachutes make a perfect excuse for a large, last minute get togethers with other parents, and can come in handy for birthday party entertainment, or to take on a family picnic. And when you're at home, don't forget a parachute can make a really amazing cover for an extra-cool fort.

(Image: Flickr user qwrrty licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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