Our favorite winter activity at preschool is sliding down our "snow mountain."
Managing a small group of kids sledding seems to have become a science. Here's how we make it work.
We used to have classic plastic sleds, which are fun with a couple kids, but our new style sleds have proven to be amazing for a group of preschoolers. I get to spend a lot more time monitoring for safety and less time helping. We got ours from LL Bean, but I have seen similar sleds from other stores. It seems that people either really like these sleds or really dislike them. We have had nothing but success, but our hill is usually smooth. They really need a packed trail.
These sleds are very light and easy to carry up the hill, which creates a lot of independence.
It always takes a few sessions to create a smooth rhythm.
To begin they have to master how to get on the sleds, which can be a little tricky at first for kids who haven't used them before. Scaffolding proves to be a great learning tool, with beginners observing the experts.
We call them "horse sleds," which seems to help the kids understand that the handle needs to go in the front and that you can't let go!
Another great part about these sleds is the body control that they have to accomplish, it's practically yoga. They have to center themselves carefully on the sled and then lean back just enough and hold their feet up off the ground. It's amazing how fast the catch on. They also have a lot more control of stopping, because their feet are not in the sled.
I usually have to prompt the children to hand their sleds over, but there is rarely a complaint. They know that the child will quickly be back to the top to hand it back again. Often, a couple children are off doing something else and there are enough sleds for everybody. I have considered getting more, but in some ways I think the turn taking is an important part of the experience.
There is a lot of opportunity to practice waiting, watching and being aware of others.The biggest challenge is helping them understand and remember that they have to walk up to the left of the sledding path. The kids waiting at the top also have to be aware and they do a great job waiting for kids and/or shouting out "look out below."
Of course, marching up the hill in their full winter gear is great exercise and usually yields a quiet nap time.