CORAdvantage Blog Classroom Tips

Family Resources for At-Home Learning: Embracing the Chaos of Big Body Play

By Holly Delgado | April 7, 2020

Crash! Bang! Boom! Thud! echo throughout my 1,500 square-foot-house, only to be followed by an equally thunderous, “Settle down!” bellowed by my husband.

Rough-and-tumble, big body play is a natural part of child development. Children often seek activities that engage all of their muscles in physical movement.  Jumping, running, rolling, and crashing are not just an outlet to let off steam but a way for young children to learn how their bodies work. In fact, the benefits of rough-and-tumble play go beyond physical development; it also has been linked to stronger self-regulation and an ability to assess risk, enhanced social-emotional development, a deeper understanding of verbal and non-verbal communication, and the ability to make decisions and solve complex problems (Carlson, 2018).

The benefits of physical play are immeasurable, but what happens when little bodies need to move in BIG ways and we’re quarantined in SMALL spaces? How do we find a balance in giving our children the movement they need without driving ourselves crazy in the process?

If you have access to open spaces, use them! Large open fields, hiking trails, wooded areas, and bike paths can be great places for children to run, crawl, and climb while remaining a safe distance away from others. Find a hill for them to roll down, a tree to climb, or a space to kick a soccer ball. If you can, schedule time to get outside and into these spaces regularly.

If you are under strict shelter-in-place guidelines, finding outlets for loud and boisterous play becomes more challenging. On Monday night, after yelling “Settle down!” one too many times, my husband decided to embrace the intense need for movement my kids were displaying. Instead of heading outside, he pushed our coffee table out of the way, turned on some music, and began an impromptu dance party in our living room. We did a mix of the twist, the floss, and the worm because my husband had made a mental shift from expecting calm bodies to embracing the chaos. He read our children’s  body language and gave them exactly what they needed in the moment — a physical outlet.

Here are a few other things that have helped our family meet the need for big body play while stuck in the confines of our small house:

Finding the time, energy, and space to engage in physical activity during this time can be challenging. However, it can also be extremely rewarding  to embrace the chaos and the need for big body, rough-and-tumble play. The squeals of laughter from my three-year-old as he anticipates the next tickle fight; the joy on my five-year-old’s face as he masters a spin move in breakdancing; and the sense of accomplishment my eight-year-old exhibits when he climbs a new tree all remind me that not only will we get through this time of quarantine, but we will come out of it even stronger as a family.

For more information, see https://naeyc.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Big-Body-Play.pdf

Family Activities Packets

The HighScope and COR Advantage teams have created a packet of activity ideas for your second week. Activities are included for infants, toddlers, and preschool age children. Please watch for this packet of activity ideas to come out each week that children are home from school.

Download: Family Activities Packet 4 (PDF – English)

More Resources

COR 360 is a collection of high-quality tools and resources for early childhood educators. Visit and join COR 360 to download all of our Family Packets, available in English and Spanish, along with a comprehensive library of other resources for professional development and at-home learning.

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From strategies you can implement now, to opportunities to grow professionally and a community of fellow educators to support you, COR 360 will strengthen the quality of your practice and programs.

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About COR Advantage

COR Advantage is HighScope’s flagship observation-based assessment. COR Advantage is the leading research-backed assessment for all children from birth to kindergarten. From comprehensive planning tools to dynamic family engagement, COR Advantage offers a complete picture of child growth for schools and families.

About Holly Delgado

Holly is an Early Childhood and Assessment Liaison as well as a former Demonstration Preschool teacher at HighScope Educational Research Foundation. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Central Michigan and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from Northeastern Illinois. She has spent more than 10 years working in self-contained early childhood special education classrooms, inclusive classrooms, and home-based environments for children ages birth to five. She is a certified teacher in Michigan and Illinois and has experience as an education administrator for Head Start/Early Head Start programs. Holly is currently an adjunct professor of Early Childhood Education at Madonna University.