Parachute games for toddlers
A parachute is a fantastic way to introduce toddlers to lots of different experiences and skills.
It’s a great way to develop language and literacy skills, like listening to and following simple instructions and singing new songs and rhymes.
Parachute games can introduce many mathematical skills, such as early counting and ordinal numbers like…first, second and third.
It’s a great way to develop social skills, like taking a turn and waiting your turn, but first and foremost, it’s an awful lot of fun, and your children won’t realize for a second that they are actually learning!
And of course, physical skills are also being developed throughout the parachute activities, so your children will be active and keep fit too.
Children can start to use a parachute from a very young age, as long as they can stand up independently and hold the edge of the parachute.
You may have to show toddlers how to grip the edge of the parachute a few times before they get the hang of it, but it’s such an exciting activity for little ones that they usually grasp the idea in no time.
Here are some of my favorite games to play with our youngest little learners.
1. Circus Tent
This is a good game to start with when introducing the parachute. Allow plenty of time for your little ones to get used to how the parachute can move when you all work together as a team.
Ensure that you have adults in strategic spots around the parachute so it doesn’t collapse. Try to place the children in between.
Tell everyone to hold on tightly to the handles, and on the count of three, all lift the parachute together, saying Up up up up up!
The parachute will make a dome shape like a circus tent, and you can all look inside together before gently lowering the parachute, saying Down, down, down, down, down!
Repeat this lots of times until all the children have got the hang of it.
2. Swap Places
Repeat the circus tent activity above a few times so that the parachute is moving up and down steadily and slowly.
Choose two children and when the parachute is up in the air like a dome, call out their names and ask them to run and swap places.
You might have to model this first, but most children love the excitement of this activity. If you have a reluctant child, just let them watch the other children until they are ready to have a go themselves.
This is a good activity for developing listening and recognizing your own name, and it can be used to learn other children’s names too.
3. Funny Moves
Once the children are confident at running underneath the parachute, you can ask them to change how they move.
You can ask them to crawl, run, walk or even do a wiggly dance. The object here is to have lots of fun while still listening to instructions and taking a turn. Try walking like a chicken, a rabbit, or a giant. Anything goes as long as they can get from one side of the parachute to the other before it floats back down. Make sure there are lots of giggles going on.
4. Round and Round
Once the children are confident lifting the parachute up and down in unison, I like to move on to this activity.
Everyone holds onto a handle. Again, place the adults strategically so the parachute is supported all the way around, and put the children in between.
Ask everyone to walk around in the same direction so the parachute looks like a big moving wheel.
As you walk around, you can say :
“Round and round like a top,
One more turn, and then we stop.”
Encourage everyone to stop on time. You may need to practice the stopping part a few times until everyone gets the hang of it. This is a great activity for working together. The children should confidently start walking around in a circle and then stopping on command. Try changing direction and walking around in the other direction. (Clockwise and anti-clockwise). You can vary the speed and add more stops as the children become more confident.
5. Nursery Rhymes
As you are walking in a circle together (as above), it’s a good time to start to sing. A favorite song in our school is Wheels on the Bus, as the children walk around in a circle, just like the wheels.
You can also add other moves if you want to.
As the horn on the bus honks, you can stamp your feet together.
As the wipers swish, you can lift the parachute slightly.
Wind the bobbin up is another rhyme that works well as you walk around together.
Of course, you don’t have just to use your parachute with toddlers. Anyone of any age, can have fun with a parachute. For ideas for all ages, including toddlers, try the website:
It’s just as important to show the children how to stop the parachute as it is to start. Walk around in a group (as above) or lift the parachute up and down (as circus tent), then explain to the children that on the count of three, you are all going to lift up and then put the handles down on the floor together.
This teaches the children to care for their resources so that the parachute will be ready to use next time. Show them that they all need to work together and cooperate.
7. Teddy Tumbles
Once everyone is confident and can maneuver the parachute together, and your children are starting to listen to and follow simple instructions, you can add some simple props.
Put a teddy in the middle of the circle and gently move the parachute up and down, as above. The teddy will start to bounce and tumble around.
You can say:
Teddy’s having fun today; he likes the bouncing game
Teddy’s having fun today; he wants to know your name.
Choose the person nearest to the teddy and ask them to tell the teddy their name. They can hold the teddy as they say their name and then throw it back into the middle of the parachute to repeat the game. This is great for increasing the children’s confidence in talking to the group.
8. Count The Bounce
Use the same teddy as the activity above, but count how many times he bounces this time. Hold the handles, and gently move the parachute up and down together. Each time the teddy bounces up into the air, count together, saying One bounce, two bounce, ….and so on.
As you bounce the teddy up, ask the children to guess which color he will land on.
Say, “What color do you guess, Laura?”
“What color do you guess, Jamie?”
And so on.
With one big last bounce, hold the parachute tight and see where teddy does land. You can repeat this as often as you like, as long as the children are having fun.
10. Bouncing Balls
This is a good game for developing counting and coordination.
Start off by standing in a circle and holding the parachute. Gently start to move the parachute up and down, not quite as high as the circus tent activity but enough to cause a ball to bounce up and down. Throw one ball into the parachute, and tell the children to try and keep bouncing. As they are concentrating on bouncing that ball, add another one, then another.
Keep count and see how long they can keep all the balls bouncing up and down before they lose one.
11. Big Balloon
This game is all about working together as a team. All hold the handles, just as above, and start to move the handles up and down. You might need to say Up, up, up, up, up, then Down, down, down, down, down.
Warn the children that you will all let go of the parachute simultaneously on the count of three and then try to catch it again. Let the parachute float up for as long as you can, and then all try to catch hold of the handles simultaneously.
12. Speed Swaps
As above, let the parachute climb up like a big hot air balloon a few times, then everyone should let go and catch it again, but this time, choose a child to run under the big balloon as quickly as they can to get to the other side of the parachute. If they make it in time, give them lots of praise. Then try it with two-speed runners.
As the parachute floats up and you all release the handles together, call out two names to run to the other side of the circle. Then, increase it to three children. Talk about running safely and not bumping into each other. Can they make it across before the parachute floats down?
If you like the sound of these games but you haven’t got a parachute yet, the best value I can find is:
As always, have lots of fun. Do check out our 101 Circle Time Games that will make sure your kids enjoy playing outdoors and learn at the same time