Benefits of Parachute Play

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Parachute play is a great way to promote teamwork among preschoolers. There are also a lot of health benefits of parachute play.

Benefits of Parachute Play

  • Encourages cooperation - Strengthens upper torso
  • Non-competitive - Differing abilities are non-issue
  • Refines perceptual skills - Reinforces turn-taking/ sharing
  • Develops a sense of rhythm - Requires following directions
  • Promotes social interaction - Enhances language development

Where to obtain a parachute

  • Educational catalog/supplier - Skydiving School (used/aged-out)
  • Army surplus store - Canvas awning maker
  • Discount School Supply

Parachute Play Safety

  • Check to make sure that the floor underneath the area of use is not slippery (or that the grass isn’t wet, if outside)
  • Remind the children to watch where they are going, to avoid bumping heads.
  • If the game starts to get too wild, switch to a more quiet, calming game. Stay in control.
  • Make sure that you have ample space, and plenty of room.
  • Parachute material is typically highly flammable – FYI.
  • As always – Safety is first and foremost!

Parachute Games and Activities

Popcorn: Place a number of beanbags, small balls, or cottonballs onto the parachute. Shake to make them pop up like "popcorn".

Ball Roll: Have the children try to roll the balls into the hole in the middle of the parachute. (Or have children try to keep the balls from going into the hole in the center.)

Making Waves: Children can make small, medium, or large movements to make various types of "waves." You can incorporate a story about a ship on the sea, weather, etc. &/or use your voice as a tool to emphasize directives.

Merry-Go-Round: Children turn their bodies sideways and hold the chute with one hand. They then walk around in a circle, making a "Merry-Go-Round." For variety, children can hop, skip, jump, etc. You can stop music as a cue to reverse and go the other direction.

Poison Snakes: Place three or four jump ropes onto the chute. Shake the parachute to keep the snakes from "biting" (touching) you.

Parachute Tag: Lift the parachute high into the air. Call out two children’s names. They must trade empty spots by running under the chute, before it comes down on them.

Mushroom: Standing, lift the parachute waist height. Count to three - with "one" and "two" being small practice lifts. On three, all lift the chute overhead, and crouch down pulling the parachute edges down as well. This creates what looks like a "mushroom."

The Wave: Children put their hands up, one after another, in order – creating a synchronized "wave" like in the stands at a baseball game.

Rollerball: Try to keep a ball rolling only along the outer edge of the parachute around the circle. As it comes toward you, cooperatively lower your edge. Just past you, raise it.

All Change: The Teacher calls out birthday months, pre-assigned numbers, colors, etc, and those children swap places under the chute before it falls, and run to an empty space.

Shark Attack: Everyone sits with legs stretched out underneath the chute, which is held chest-high. One or two children are the "sharks" and crawl around under the parachute and try to grab people’s legs to pull them under the chute. The "captured" is now the "shark".

See-Saw Pull: From a sitting position, have children pull the parachute back and forth in a cooperative see-saw motion.

Shoe Shuffle: Count off. All of a selected number take off one shoe and throw it in the middle. On the count of three, raise the chute, and the designated children have to run under and find their shoe before the chute comes down.

Bouncing Balls: Have one or two children under the chute trying to hit the balls as they touch the surface, knocking them off the parachute (from underneath.)

Flying Saucer: All take one step forward upon lifting the chute in the air. Upon command, all let go, and watch as it slowly floats.

Ball in the Bucket: Break into two or more "teams." Each team will have a different colored ball (or balls.) They will try to keep their color ball from going into the middle circle, while trying to get the other teams’ color of ball(s) into the hole.

Turtle: The parachute becomes a giant turtle shell with everyone underneath it on hands and knees. Everyone must cooperate and work together to get the turtle to move about.

Beach Ball Fun: Use a beach ball, moving it with waves, around on the parachute.

Parachute Volleyball: Split into two sides of the parachute. One side tries to knock the ball off of the other side (half of chute), right past the other "team."

The Canopy: Squat down with parachute flat on the ground. On the count of three, stand up and stretch arms above head, creating a canopy.

There was a Man: 
Children walk (or follow other directions – skip, gallop, jump), around in a circle hanging on to the parachute with one hand. 

There was a man in our town
who went for a walk one day.
But the wind blew so hard
He turned around
And walked the other way

When the Parachute Goes Up: (Sung to If You’re Happy and You Know It) 
When the parachute goes up
Stomp your feet
When the parachute goes up
Stomp your feet
When the parachute is high
And floats up in the sky
When the parachute goes up
Stomp your feet.

(Other Verses: Shout Hooray!; lift your leg; bend your knees; wiggle your shoulders; shake your head; dance a dance; nod your head, etc.)

Other Ideas

  • Use with music – all types!
  • Adapt traditional circle games
  • Use as a dramatic play prop - make a "tent," "cave," "circus tent," etc.
  • Use as a colorful backdrop for photos or an Open House

Copyright 2005 ~Cathy Abraham