Active Matters
A website dedicated to Early Years Physical Development

Movement Skills in the Early Years

Jan White Natural Play
Natural Play, Natural Growth, in Early Years
Jan is well-known for her work on outdoor play – her book ‘Playing and Learning Outdoors’ is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in this field, plus Jan writes a great blog which is worth following.

Resurrecting Free Play in Young Children Looking Beyond Fitness and Fatness to Attention, Affiliation, and Affect

JAMA Pediatrics | 2005 | Hillary L. Burdette, MD, MS; Robert C. Whitaker, MD, MPH


We have observed that the nature and amount of free play in young children has changed. Our purpose in this article is to demonstrate why play, and particularly active, unstructured, outdoor play, needs to be restored in children’s lives. We propose that efforts to increase physical activity in young children might be more successful if physical activity is promoted using different language—encouraging play—and if a different set of outcomes are emphasized—aspects of child well-being other than physical health. Because most physical activity in preschoolers is equivalent to gross motor play, we suggest that the term “play” be used to encourage movement in preschoolers. The benefits of play on children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development are explored.



movingsmartblog | Gill Connell

Hopscotch was one of my favorite games as a child and it still is today. In fact, Hopscotch proves one of my pet theories that (in most cases) what's fun for kids is good for kids. 

Here's my Child-At-Play/Play-At-Work analysis of this timeless, universal classic or 11 Great Reasons to Rush Out and Buy Some Chalk Today!



movingsmart blog | GILL CONNELL | 

No matter the age, comfort and confidence in the water is a mandatory first step in achieving safety, relaxation, proficiency, and enjoyment in the water. So I strongly recommend a professional "Introduction to the Water" class for all children new to getting wet. And no matter how experienced a swimmer you are, I believe the most effective experiences are parent-child classes that give you important safety and relaxation techniques while being your child's most trusted guide... just as you do every day on dry land



Moving Smart |

Like red rubber balls and teddy bears, broccoli refusals, skipping rope, sticky fingers, boo boo kisses, bath time pouts, and nighty night tuck ins, I think cardboard boxes are essential kit for little kids.
And the granddaddy of them all are refrigerator boxes.
Guess what arrived at my house the other day? (he-he-he!)
After a day with my grandchildren and a big cardboard box, it got me thinking about why kids love cardboard boxes, and why cardboard boxes are great for kids...



Infant & Toddler Forum | Physical Activity and Play for Toddlers

Three hours of physical activity each day are recommended

Children of all ages should be active – it is vital for their physical and mental health and development. Physical activity also helps toddlers maintain a normal weight. See Factsheet 3.3

The Department of Health (DH) recommends that children under five years who can walk should be active for at least three hours each day. All sorts of physical activities, including walking, running and unstructured, active and energetic play, count towards this recommendation. The amount of activity is

more important than its type or intensity. Physical activity can be spread over the day, in short bursts and interspersed with periods of rest, as toddlers tire quickly, especially with prolonged physical activity.

The DH classifies physical activity into three types: sedentary, light intensity and more energetic. Light intensity activity and more energetic physical activity contribute to the recommended three hours of physical activity per day. 



The Power of Physical Play.

Siren Films have just launched their new DVD ‘The Power of Physical Play.’ This is a beautifully conceived and executed piece of work by Siren Films  - it gets to the very heart of the primal need for young children to engage in physical play – not just for the obvious health benefits but for what it teaches them about managing life generally: how to accommodate, adapt, negotiate, delegate, self-regulate, persevere, have fun, laugh, take risks, make choices.


HOP | Healthy Opportunities for Preschoolers

Parents are children's most important teachers. Through their actions and decisions, parents show their children what they value and help children develop their abilities. Children of preschool age are developing and learning at an unprecedented rate, and they learn best when learning is active. 


Learning & Development: Rhythm - A fact of Life

06 September 2013 written by Dr Lala Manners published by Nursery World

Rhythm is a critical area for both communication and physical skills development, so how can practitioners ensure children's learning is supported? Lala Manners reports.


Positive Relationships: Home Learning - Roll On!

08 February 2013 written by Dr Lala Manners published by Nursery World

Rolling and crawling develop strength, stamina and co-ordination for physical activity. Lala Manners provides guidese for practitioners and parents.


Nursery Equipment: Ball Skills - Catch!

28 May 2012 written by Dr Lala Manners published by Nursery World

Throwing, catching, kicking and batting are essential physical skills with social pluses, says Lala Manners.


Early Movers - Introduction

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has just published a new early years physical activity guide. This pack is designed to help early years practitioners plan and organise physically active play environments for children under five.


INPP -  The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology 
INPP specialises in the relationship between physical development, educational achievements and emotional functioning, methods of assessment and effective intervention. For further information on theory and practice - please look at INPP's publications and their training.


NHS Choices - Physical Activity Guideline for Children (under 5 years)
How much physical activity do children under 5 years old need to do to keep healthy?
What counts as light activity for children?
What counts as energetic activity for children?