What goes up, must come down. Three-year-olds enjoy lifting the silky fabric of the parachute up as high as they can and anticipating it falling to the ground. Parachutes teach 3-year-olds gross motor skills, listening skills and social skills — perhaps it would be a good game for 30-year-olds to play, too.
Whenever a group of 3-year-olds grab on to the edge of the parachute, the first thing they want to do is shake the parachute. Let them do it. The parachute will make rumbling noises that sound like rain. Call out a child’s name to run under the umbrella because you hear the rain coming.
The child will run under the parachute to the opposite side.
On the count of three, have everyone raise the parachute up as high as they can. Everyone chants, “Up, up, up.” When it makes a dome above the heads of the 3-year-old, everyone lets go and watches the parachute float to the ground, “Down, down, down.”
Add More Fun
Soft, spongy balls are a ton of fun with the parachute. When buying a parachute, go ahead and buy 20 to 30 balls. Throw all of them on the parachute and watch the popcorn pop. See whether the group can bounce all of the balls off of the parachute. Make a game out of gathering the balls back up. Kids love it when told the one that gets the last ball is the winner. They will go crazy picking up balls as fast as they can.
Place one ball on the parachute. Let the group try to get it to drop into the middle hole. It’s trickier than one might think.
Hold the parachute up as high as possible. Call out a color of the parachute. Anyone who is holding that color runs under the dome of the parachute to the other side. Most 3-year-olds can sort colors and understand which color they are holding onto. Running under the parachute dome adds excitement. The runner needs to get to the other side without colliding with another runner and before the dome collapses. Call out other sorting opportunities for the kids to run. Have them run if they have a dog at home, a brother, or if they are wearing glittery shoes.
Putting It Away
Even putting the parachute back in its sack can be a game. Each person holding onto the parachute starts rolling the parachute up. Whichever side gets to the middle first is the winner. The parachute is loaded back into the bag, and everyone had fun doing it.