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    CHAPTER 8 Moving

    88 NATURAL LEARNING

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    Part II:D evelop ing the W ho le C hild

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    Chapter 8 MOVING

    Moving stimulates thekinesthetic, proprioceptive,and vestibular senses. It is acritical part of normal childdevelopment. Given access,opportunity, and adultencouragement, childrenwill naturally explore theirsurroundings.The need formovement provides a ratio-nale for creating qualityenvironments capable ofsustaining positive learningand physical and mentalgrowth. This is particularlyimportant in highly industri-alized societies where chil-dren's opportunities formovement are becom ingrestricted by televisionviewing and issues of safetyand liability.

    Too m any ch ildren today have stopped m oving. Inin du stria lize d c ou ntrie s an d in a fflu en t, m id dle -class com m unities ac ross the w orld , children arespen ding too m uch of their tim e indoors w ith te levisio n,co mpu ters, and video gam es, rather than exercising theirb od ie s in o utd oo r, fre e-p la y a ctiv ity . In th e U n ite d S ta te s,w here these trends a re the m ost advanced, ch ildhoodobesity has becom e a m ajor hea lth issue . I

    T he increase in sedentary , indo or activities hasbeen driven in part by a decrease in opportun ities forou tdoor play The grow th of pub lic vio lence has m adeparents fea rfu l abou t le tting their child ren out to play onth eir ow n. In the m ajority of fam ilies w ith children, theparents w ork and are not a t hom e w hen children retu rnfrom school. A pprehension about soc ia l r isks in the ou t-door env ironm ent has encouraged m any parents toen roll their children in afterschool prog ram s, su ch asm usic, gym nastic s , ecolo gy , coo king , and art T he bestp ro gra ms o ffer an array o f c rea tiv e, n on fo rm al ac tiv itie sto serv e ch ild ren 's v aried in te rests; m an y p ro gra ms,how ever, do not prov ide this level of qua lity For the m il-lion s of children w hose parents cannot a fford after-school ca re, w atching televisio n has becom e th eir prim a-r y le is ur e a ctiv it y

    Indoor program s have begun to replace ou tdoorinform al play in the le isu re tim e of m any m iddle-c lasschildren . M any pro gram s, of course , inco rpora te p hysi-cal education (though ra rely ou tdoors). B ut few pro-g ram s focus o n free play as a m ain activity , la rgelybecause it is hard to "sell," a t least in the U nited S ta tes.In other countr ies , such as the U nited K ingdom , theN etherlands, and G erm any , an im pressiv e ran ge ofleisu re p ro gra ms a re o ffere d b y n on pro fit o rg an iz atio ns,labor unions, and housin g assoc ia tions, often w ith go v-ernm ent partnership . Such program s have ex isted for a tleast three decades. In a h andfu l of countries, pub licpolicy in the nonform al educa tion sector addressed theneed for com m un ity -based leisu re program s m uch earli-er; in Sw eden and D enm ark , for exam ple , efforts beganin the 1940s w ith the developm ent of urban playparka nd a dv en tu re p la yg ro un d p ro gram s.

    Inm uch of the w orld , in ma rg in al c ommu n it ie sla ck in g th e lu xu rie s o f in du stria l d ev elo pm en t, c hild re n

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    le ad liv es d ep riv ed o f m a te ria l c om f o rt. H ow e ve r, a s lo ngas th ere is en ou gh to ea t, th ey a re c on sta ntly o n th emo v e in o u td oo r p la y . T he ir le ve l o f p hy sic al g ra ce a nda g il it y a r e s tr ik in g t o t he v is ito r f rom t he d e ve lo p edw o rld , w h er e c hild re n's m o v em e n t o u td oo rs h as f alle nb elow th e th re sh old r eq u ir ed f or g oo d h ea lth -e ve nth ou g h g eo gr ap hic mo v eme n t h as in cr ea se d v ia c ar s a nds c ho o l b u s es .

    T h e n e ga ti ve c o ns eq u e nc es f or c h ild r en 's h e alt ha re d ra m an c.' T he p ro je cte d im p ac t in a dd ed h ea lth -c are c os ts o ve r th e lif etim e s o f t he se c hild re n is a ne nt ir ely a v oid a b le b u r de n. P h y sic a l e du c a tio n s h ou ld b ep art o f t he a nsw er, b ut it d isap pea red lo ng a go fro m th ecurriculum in ma n y s ch oo l d is tr ic ts in th e U n ite dS ta te s- a s ho ck in g f ac t to e du c ato rs v is itin g f r oma bro ad . T he m o st e xtre m e s ig na l o f th is tr en d h as b ee nth e a b an do nme n t o f r ec es s in s om e s ch oo l d is tr ic ts ,w h ic h d ep riv e c hild re n o f th eir o nly o pp or tu n ity to le t o ffste am d urin g th e sc ho ol d ay .3

    Wash i ng t on Schoo l d e fi n it el y s ti ll h ad r e c es s ! B yth e tim e th e Y ard w as fully developed, it p ro vid ed s uc h ar an g e o f a tt ra c tiv e t hr ee -d ime n s io n al s p ac es a n d p h y sic a ls up po rts f or c re ativ e b o dy mo v eme n t th at it wa s impos si-b le fo r c hild re n n ot to m o ve. T his is h ow a n e ffe ctiv elyd es ig ned m o vem en t sp ac e sh ou ld w ork -n ot se t a pa rtf ro m o th er s ettin gs b ut d es ig ned a s a c ata ly st i n th ee n ti re e nv ir onmen t, i rr e si st ib l y mo t i va ti n g ch il dr e n t om o ve a nd e xe rc is e th eir b od ie s in m y ria d w a ys .BODY LANGUAGE

    Wi th e ac h in cr em e n t o f d ev elo pm e n t, a n in cr ea sin gn umbe r o f c h il dr en , r eg a rd le ss o f a b ili ty , wo u ld p ra c ti cemo v in g th eir b o die s th ro u gh s pa ce . W i th g ra ce a nd a gili-t y, t he y e x er ci se d th e ir mu s c le s, l ig ame n ts , a n d limb s-b a la n cin g , c h as in g , c limb in g , c r aw l in g , d o dg in g , h a ng -i ng , h o pp in g , j ump i ng , l ea p in g , r oc k in g , r o ll in g , r u n-n i ng , s li d ing , s p inn ing , s qu irm i ng , sw i ngi ng, t umb l ing ,tw i rlin g, tw i stin g-w ith ou t a s in gle in str uc tio n f rom aphys ic a l e duc at io n t ea ch er .

    T his w as a fa r c ry fro m th e o ld sc ho oly ard , w hereg irls h un g a ro un d a dm irin g th e b oy s' p ro w es s a t playingb all o r fe lt e xc lu de d b ec au se th ey w e re n ot a ttr ac te d b yth e c row d ed p la y e qu ipm e nt; a nd w h er e n on ath le tic

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    The diversity of challenging environments stimulated a divel'5ityof movement. Especially for children with disabilities, the Yardprovided a sense of freedom unavailable in less diverse playspaces.

    N AT UR AL L EA RN IN G

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    TRADITIONAL GAMESEach recess, patches ofasphalt rang with the ancientchants and game cries heardaround the world."Green light!" a girl yells, herback turned towards a line ofchildren a few yards away. Theline advances, each playermoving as fast as possiblewhile retaining an ability tofreeze suddenly."Red light!" She whips around,facing the group, and sendsanyone who is still movingback to the baseline. Sherepeats the calls until she istagged by a player, who thenbecomes the new "light!'"Simon says" was played onany handy spot of asphaltwith much giggling as thechildren contorted them-selves into the most impossi-ble positions. There were alsothe raucous back-and-forthdashing of "red rover" andthe circular "duck, duck,goose" played around thegiant compass circle.

    Children enjoyed many varia-tions of traditional catchingand jump rope games.Chinese jump rope was par-ticularly popular.To play, chil-dren tied a large number ofrubber bands together tomake a string long enough toloop around the legs of twochildren standing six to eightfeet (1.8 to 2.4 m) apart.Three or four then jumpedback and forth, inside andoutside the loop, as it wasslowly raised inch by inch.Players dropped out whenthey tripped on the "rope."The last player remaining wasthe winner.Mostly girls played hopscotchon the three or four hop-scotch designs painted along

    Chapter 8 MOVI NG

    the edges of the asphalt.Sometimes they chalkedtheir own designs. In the oldForum in Rome, there arestill hopscotch diagramsscratched in the pavement.The Romans supposedlylearned it from the ancientGreeks and then introducedit to the British, who took itto America. Different designsand versions of the game arefound in many countries,including Burma,lndia,Japan,China, Russia, and Scotland.

    ch ild re n w ere rid ic uled an d o strac iz ed fo r n ot p artic ip at-ing in the unchang ing rou tines o f b a ll cou rts , gam e lines ,an d m eta l b ars .

    T he Y ard celeb ra ted the exuberan t fun and exc ite-m en t o f c rea tive m ovem en t and expanded beyond theo pp ortu nitie s p ro vid ed b y s ta nd ard p la y e qu ip m en t.

    A s n ew elem en ts w ere ad de d, ch ild ren in ven tedgam es w ith m ore flex ib le sets o f ru le s, T hese gam ess om e tim e s se rv ed a s a n e xte ns io n o f e xistin g tra ditio ns,som etim es reflec ted the im pac t o f m ains tream m ass cu l-tu re o f te lev ision and film , and som etim es resu lted inin tr ig uin g, im a gin ativ e a ctio n g am e s th at d efie d c ate go -rization.

    P hy sic al d iv ersity s tim u la te d a b ro ad er v arie ty o fac tiv ity . I rad ir ion al g am es th at w ere th e b ase o f th e ch il-d ren 's cu ltu re in th e Y ard b ecam e in creasin gly v arieda nd in terw ov en w ith n ew ac tiv ities th at f lo urish ed inresp on se to th e e xp an din g ch oices in th e lan dscap e, A sthe range of phy s ic a l cha llenges b roadened , m ore ch il-d ren w ere ab le to partic ipa te and feel b e tte r abou t them -se lv es re ga rd le ss o f th eir a bility , M o ve m en t h elp ed c hil-d re n a cq uire p hy sic al c om p ete nc e a nd s elf-c on fid en ceth ro ug h in te ra ctio n w ith th eir s ur ro un din gs .

    "YOU'RE IT!"C hase gam es w ere excellen t ex am ples o f how the

    d iv ersif ie d la nd sc ap e e xp an de d th e p la y re pe rto ire ."L ast one in the dirt area is 'it:" shou ts R acheL "W e playa

    lo t of tag back there because it has lo ts of th ings to run around andit's so ft w hen y ou fall d ow n:' sh e n otes, ref lec tin g th e c hild ren 'spre ference for p lay ing chase ga mes in the N atu ra l R esou rc e A rea ,T he c hild ren fo un d th e sp ac e m ore in te restin g a nd c ha llen gin g.

    " Yo u h av e to know the bases," Joel expla ins. "U sua lly w e taketim e ou t to decide on them . T hey cou ld be the logs, parts of the ra il-ings, certa in ro cks, the picnic ta bles, the b ridge , the G azeb o, ra il-road ties-the re 's lo ts of po ssib ilities , "

    "W hen w e play tag in the m eadow , you have to talk to ar oc k," s ay s D ev in , "If you don 't, you 're o ut of th e gam e, T hey 're'ta lk ing rocks .' Y ou can say th ings lik e, 'H ow are y ou doin g? "Ia nts om e t ea ?'''

    "W e play 'M arc o P olo ' a round the w eeping w illo w tree," say sH ar ri et. " On e p er so n's ' i t ' and the othe rs have their eyes c losed andthey say 'M arco ' and you have to say 'P olo ' so they can hear w hereyou a re, T he tree [W illow Island] is base, except y ou have to b ecare fu l n ot to fall in th e w a te r."

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    T he c hildren w ho pu t the h igh es t prem iu m on ru n-nin g c om p lained tha t there w as no t eno ug h ro om in th eN a tu ra l R e so u rc e A r ea . T h e u ne nc umb e re d e xp an se s o fth e M a in Y a rd , t ho u gh , e as ily a llo w ed th em to p la y ta g ing ro up s o f si x o r s ev en . T he re w e re s till m a ny p la ces toh id e: in th e fa r c om e rs, b eh in d th e s tru ctu re s, in th ew ee ds a nd b us he s a ro un d th e ed ge s. T he se c hild rene nj oy e d t he s pr ea d -o u t f ee lin g .

    "We u se th e [ Big T oy ] b ar re ls a s b as e," e xp la in s D ev in . " Yo uc an o nly s ta y th er e fo r fiv e c o un ts , th en y ou h av e to g et o ff .S om etim es w hen th e c ha sers a re a bou t to g et y ou ... w hen they 'rea bo ut to kill y ou , y ou 're sc ared. T he fu n p art is th e ru nning. I ru nl ik e c r azy .Iu s t l ik e r u nn in g . Iik e the air to get a t m e and w hen]d on 't g et ta gg ed ] fe el p ro ud . Iu n eve ry da y. M y da d's a ru nne r. W ego up in the park and run first thing in t h e morn ing ."

    "In 'T V tag ' y ou squat dow n and say the nam e of a T V show,"s ay s o ne g irl, " bu t yo u c an 't s ay it agaill in the sam e gam e and IIyo ud on 't sa y a n am e , y ou 'll b e ' i t . ' In ' freeze l ag ' y ou h av e to s t ay s ti llw heny ou 'r e ta gg ed , a nd y ou c an o nly g el u nta gg ed if o ne o f th e p la ye rstou ches y ou . 'T un nel ta g' is w here y ou m ak e y ou r legs lik e a tu nneland the only w ay y ou can get free is if s ome on e g oe s th ro ug h th em . "

    " Fr ee ze ta g,' 'm a sh ed p ota to es ,' a nd 'b ottle o f p o is on ' a rew h at w e u su al ly p la y, " s ay s G e or ge . " H ey J ef fr ey , y o u b e 'it '; w e 'r ep la yin g p ois on , H a, h a, y ou 'v e g ot th e p ois on . D o a ny th in g y ou lik eexcept with a 'p ,' lik e 'p op co rn ' o r 'p ota to es ."

    T he b ars w ere the sc ene of m an y ta g an d ch asinggames .

    " Fo r mo nk ey ta g," M u ff in e xp la in s, ''w e h av e 'tim e b ox es '[ fo rm e d b y th e m o nk ey b ars 1 , w he re th e p er so n w ho 's 'it' c an 'tc atc h y ou . If a p ers on to uc he s y ou , y ou 're 'it.' My f rie nd a nd I tr ic keach other. E very tim e] go into a b ox, she goes ou t; then , w hen I goo ut, sh e g oe s in ."

    J en ny a nd A m y ru n over fro m the rin gs a nd c lim b the m on-k ey b ars . L ar ry is th er e a nd s ay s, " Le t's p la y 'h ot la va . '"

    B oth g irls w atc h h im d an gle , th re ate nin g to d ro p. T he y b othd an gl e a nd d ro p.

    " H ot l av a! " th ey y el l i n u nis on .Larry m ov es o ver to th e rings a nd h angs u pside do wn."M omm y, oh M omm y!" h e y ells. "I ju st tu rned in to th e ho t

    l ava mons te r !"H e tr ie s to c atc h J en ny . S he r un s a wa y.H e c a tc h es A m y . J enny t ri es to s ave h er .T hey try not to to uc h the gro und ("hot la va ") a nd g et b ac k

    o n th e b ars. Larry ca t che s J enny ."I'm go ing to ta ke y ou to m y h ot la va h ou se," he sa ys.S he ru ns a wa y a nd s ta rts c ha sin g h im , h its h im p la yfu lly ,

    s co ld s h im , a nd te lls h im to go u nder th e la dder b ar. A nother b oyj oin s in . T he g am e tu rn s in to " bo ys a ga in st g ir ls ." T he g ir ls g ra ba no th er b oy , g et h im d ow n on the grou nd, c ou nt to tw enty , a ndd an ce a ro un d y ell in g.

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    Settings were designed to stimulate hopping. balancing, run-ning. jumping, and walking.They offered children a variety ofways to experience the Yard environment through movement.A"magic circle" of rocks motivated a special form of tag (top)while the railroad ties encouraged balancing games (bottom).

    NATURAL LEARNING

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    IO L i f s i d e .

    o n i t .b~ w o o d e n s c u l p + u V " " e

    S o m e t i m e s I p / D ,...

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