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Here is an activity that we have used with our pre-school students (ages 3-5) for color recognition, eye-hand coordination, and group cooperation skills.

By Kristine Fritz

I teach at a pre-K school (ages 3-5) where we do 25-minute lessons with our students once a week to introduce skills (such as locomotor, non-locomotor, throwing, catching, dance) and age-appropriate games and activities that connect to classroom themes. This activity was developed to be an introduction to manipulatives and is used in the Fall when our children study the theme of “farms” in the classroom.

• 6 Milk jugs (Barns)
• 6 colored polyspots (Red, Green, Blue, yellow, orange, purple)
• 1 set of farm animal polyspots (pig, cow, horse, lamb, chicken, dog)
• 6 colored hoops (corrals)
• colored wooden dowels (herding sticks)
• colored foam balls (animals)


Class Set-Up
Place the gallon jugs (Barns) in a line, each on a different colored polyspot. Place a corresponding farm animal polyspot about 15 feet away as seen above. Put the colored balls in the matching colored hoops and lay the wooden dowels (herding sticks) beside the hoops. The children are assigned to one of the six farm animals and line up behind the farm animals in rows of 3-4, depending on the class size.


How to Play
Teacher demonstrates “animal herding” by using one or two hands on the colored herding stick with the painted end down and touching/moving the “animal” toward the Barn (milk jug). stress control rather than speed.

On the teacher’s signal, the first child in line “herds” one of the animals (balls). They let the “animal” gently tap the jug. They immediately pick their animal up in one hand and hold the herding stick (colored end of the stick pointed down) in the other hand while waiting for their friends to reach the jug with their animal.

Stress “sticks down” and “touch only your cow.” after all of the students are at the barn, they point their sticks downward, take the cows in hand, and march, slide, tip toe, back to the starting point as directed.

After a bit of practice, the teacher can rotate lines to another color, change the animals (beanbags for the balls), and add background music. Once the music is added, the students may dance a little in place with animal and sticks in hand.

At this young age, we wanted to introduce the concept of using short-handled implements (paddles, racquets) within physical education. While there are a variety of ways to use the stick, we mostly emphasize using the stick responsibly.

At higher grade levels, one could emphasize more skill development. We have found that this activity helps our children connect to their classroom “farm” lessons, identify colors, follow directions, and enjoy “moving to improve” physically.


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