1. Know what will work in your space. We have a large meeting room that seats 100 people so a 20' parachute with 18 handles works well for us. A larger one would be cool, but we would need outside space and we just don't have it.
2. Learn what will work with the different age groups. If you work with younger kids, you will need a definite plan. With older kids, you need a lot of possible activities, but you can stay with one if it is popular. As an example, we learned that older kids (4-8 year olds) don't work well in our program space, because one of their favorite activities is making the props hit the ceiling (which makes my branch manager frown).
3. Have adults or volunteers who are ready to pick up the handles if the kids need a break. Otherwise you and 2 little kids could be the only ones trying to move the parachute.
Here's what we do:
We register 22 2-4 year olds to play Parachute Games in a 30-minute session. By having 22 kids registered, we will hopefully have 18 kids who show up and hold the handles. Otherwise, we recruit big brothers and sisters. If we have too many kids, they can hold the edge between the handles too. I set up a playlist of music that will last about 25 minutes. You will want a mixture of songs that are fast and slow. As new cds come in, I keep a list in itunes as to what would work with a parachute.
Our playlist/activity list:
- Sally Go 'Round the Sunshine by Carole Peterson on Dancing Feet-This is our warm-up song. It allows us to make the parachute go around, kind of like a merry-go-round. We also get to make it go faster.
- The Popcorn Pop by Rosenshontz on Tot Rock-Now it is time for some bouncing. I have a lot of mini beach balls from Oriental Trading that I use as "popcorn". The hard part is getting beach balls off of the parachute when the song is done.
- Ring Around the Rosie by Caspar Babypants on Sing Along!- This allows us to slow the parachute down again and spin it around in a circle. The kids love "falling down", but the music isn't so fast that they have a hard time getting up again.
- Merry-Go-Round by Michael Plunkett on Shakin' the Chute-We get to keep spinning around. Sometimes I change it up a bit and we change directions. Allow time for the kids to turn around as "left" and "right" are still hard for them. I like to say, "Let's go the other way." **If you want 1 cd that has all parachute songs, this is one of the best.
- Shaky Shaky by The Wiggles on Yummy Yummy-It's time to speed things up again and get the kids shaking the parachute. This song is good because you get to go "fast" and "slow".
- Five Little Monkeys on the cd Five Little Monkeys-Since monkeys like to bounce, we pop some monkey finger puppets we have onto the parachute for the kids to bounce. Like the monkeys in the rhyme, they tend to fall off and we have to toss them back on again.
- The Wheels on the Bus by Michael and Jello on Monkey See Monkey Do-This song slows us down again. You can either have the kids sit on the floor or stand mostly in place. The parachute is good for acting out the song, such us "up and down", "round and round", and "open and shut".
- Row Row Row Your Boat by Old Town School of Folk Music on Songs for Wiggleworms-For this one we sit on the floor and act out this song. There are a lot of funny verses that work well with the parachute, such as "bounce" and "wiggle".
- A Walking We Will Go by Greg and Steve on We All Live Together, Vol. 5-We get to stand back up again and walk around the circle with the parachute. Once again, the fun verses allow you to follow the song with the parachute.
- Alabama, Mississippi by Jim Gill on Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and Other Contagious Tunes-This speeds the parachute up again with some bouncing.
- The Bear Went Over the Mountain by Disney on Best of Children's Favorites-Pooh's Top 40 Tunes-I have a giant bear puppet that we throw on the parachute for the kids to bounce to get him "over the mountain"/
- Popcorn by The Barenaked Ladies on Snack Time-This is a great finale song due to the speed and bouncing. At this time all of my beach balls and other parachute stuff goes on the parachute for the kids to bounce as "popcorn".