Abracadabra! Scarf Magic!

The thin, nylon juggling scarf has unlimited possibilities of play value. This loose material is lightweight and easy for children of any age—infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged kids—to manipulate and use to promote gross motor and fine motor development. Scarf play helps with hand-eye coordination and encourages movement of eyes and hands to cross the midline important pre-reading and writing skills for young children.

Teachers, parents and other early childhood caregivers don’t have to be a magician to conduct age-appropriate activities that involve all children in scarf play; just follow the child’s lead and have fun!

Here are some ideas:

--Throw the scarf in the air with one hand and catch with the other.
--Toss & try clapping once or twice before catching the scarf.
--Hold the scarf together with a friend as you move together around the classroom.
--Toss the scarf in the air, spin around and catch it before it falls to the ground. Try looking at the world through the fine mesh fabric. What do you see?
--Throw the scarf up in the air and clap until it touches the ground and count how many claps it takes.
--Move around the room with the scarf on a body part; try not to let it fall.
--Toss the scarf and try to have it land on different body parts (hand, elbow, foot, back and head.)
--Catch and toss with a partner.
--Pull out the CD player and put on some favorite music and dance with the scarves.
--Play “Follow the Leader” where the child at the head of the line does a movement with the scarf and all children will copy that movement (waving scarf overhead, swinging arms back and forth, jumping with the scarf, galloping with the scarf, etc.) When the music stops the child that was at the front of the line goes to the back and the next child in line becomes the leader. The music starts again and the game continues until everyone has had a chance to be the leader.
--Use the scarf to sing the following song and do the appropriate movements:
Shake to My Lou (Tune: “Skip to My Lou”)
Shake, shake, shake to my lou, shake, shake, shake to my lou, shake, shake, shake to my lou, shake to my lou my darling. (Shake scarf in front of body)
Other verses you can add:
Shake up high, shake down low (Shake scarf overhead, then down by feet)
Shake to the right, shake to the left (Shake scarf on one side of body and then the other)
Shake it out, shake it in (Shake scarf with arms extended to the sides, bring arms together in front of body)

The scarf also lends itself to exploring colors and shapes. Ask children what shape their scarf is. Can they make the scarf into a smaller square? Can you make it into a triangle? Can it become a rectangle? Discuss the geometric properties of each shape as they are made. Place all the scarves on the floor in color groups to see a graph of colors. Talk about sorting, quantities, more/less.

Use your imagination and be creative with the scarf… It can be a tail on a horse, a wing of a butterfly, the cape of a hero, a kite... The children can turn it into anything they can imagine and have fun as they incorporate movement into their day.

What else can you do with your scarf?