A parachute is one resource that has so many uses within an infant class. There are endless games you can play with it and the infants really love it. It is also a great resource to help the children learn to work as a team.
Some of my favourite games are:
This is not so much a game, more an essential starting point for parachute play. Get everyone to spread out the parachute and hold the edge, spaced out more or less evenly so they’re standing in a circle. Pull the chute taut and lower it to the ground (or knee level). On the magic word (e.g. Mushroom!) everyone pulls the chute upwards (don’t let go). It will fill with air and rise up like a giant mushroom – or igloo. To get it as high as possible everyone must take a couple of paces towards the center as the chute rises. It’s good to practice this so that the group can learn to work effectively as a team and get the chute really high. It won’t work without co-operation.
Variations on Mushroom
Once you’ve mastered the basic mushroom it’s fun to experiment. See what happens if:
- Everyone mushrooms and then runs to the center, still holding the chute.
- Everyone mushrooms, then lets go, especially outdoors on a windy day!
- Everyone lets go at exactly the same time. If there isn’t any wind, the chute will retain its perfect mushroom shape and rise straight up in the air. Indoors it may go up to the ceiling. To get this right it’s best for someone to shout “One.. Two.. Three.. Go!”, or similar, immediately after the “Mushroom!” instruction. For everyone to let go at exactly the right instant will take practice and concentration.
Groups of children who haven’t played with a parachute before will probably be delighted and fascinated by the effect for quite a while before you move on to any other games. It’s particularly spectacular when the sun is shining down through the chute.
Everyone holds the chute taut. Place a large ball near the edge. Try to make the ball roll around the edge of the chute. To do this someone starts the ball rolling. As it comes towards you, you lower the edge you are holding, and as it goes past you raise your edge. When all the players do this in synchronization it creates a wave going round the edge, pushing the ball round in front of it in a smooth, steady circle. It can not be done without concentration and co-operation! However, it is very rewarding for the group to eventually achieve a smooth, continuous motion. Once you’ve done this try speeding up – or change direction.
- Big Turtle
Have the children get on their hands and knees under a large “turtle shell” and try to make the turtle more in one direction. As a cooperative game, children have to work together to get the turtle to move. Variation: Have the turtle go over a hill or bench or through an obstacle course without losing the shell.
- The Ocean
We pretend the parachute is the ocean. I have them give me the name of an ocean. Children move the parachute in response to the ‘weather report’ they heard. (Encourages children to be creative). For example, I’ll say, “I heard on the weather report this morning that there was a slight breeze over the Atlantic. What would that look like?” The children respond by making small waves in the parachute. Other suggestions have been – high winds, snow (we would have to pull it tight to make the ice), twisters, etc. Once they get the hang of it the possibilities are endless.
Everyone sits on the floor in a circle holding the parachute stretched out with his or her legs underneath it. The chute is the sea and they are sitting on the beach, happily dipping their toes in the water. By shaking the edge of the chute realistic ripple or wave effects can be generated. Once the waves are going well someone is selected to be a shark and disappears under the chute. They move around underneath and because of the waves it will be difficult to see where they are. The shark chooses a victim and grabs him or her by the feet. The victim can give an appropriate scream before disappearing under the chute. This person now becomes a new shark. To prolong the game you can have the original shark revert to being a bather – or to make it more lively you can have several sharks in there at once. To finish the game you can choose ‘once a shark, always a shark’ – so everyone eventually becomes a shark. You can introduce freak weather conditions – or even a killer whale!
If you liked these games, you can download a full list of over 40 parachute games, visit our resources store here.