Not just play – bike riding as a fun and educational experience

It is Brisbane Bike Week this week 25 April to 3rd May: http://bikeweek.bq.org.au/. The following is an article written by Niki Kenny, Professional Development & Research Coordinator at WynnumCentral member Wynnum Family Day Care.

Bike riding allows children to express some of the natural play urges that are important in the development of their brains, including transporting, rotating, and playing ‘running and chasey’ games. There are also lots of things that children can learn through riding bikes, depending on the space and resources available, as well as the educator’s interactions and decision making.

Through bike riding, children can progress in the five learning outcomes of the EYLF (Early Years Learning Framework) in the following ways (these examples depend, of course, on the individuality of each child and the differences in each educator’s environment):

Outcome 1: Identity: children openly express feelings and ideas with others; respond to ideas and suggestions from others; initiate and join in play; and show interest in other children and being part of a group

Outcome 2: Community: children cooperate with others and negotiate roles and relationships; gradually learn to ‘read’ the behaviours of others and respond appropriately; show concern for others; demonstrate knowledge of and respect for natural and constructed environments

Outcome 3: Wellbeing: children share humour, happiness and satisfaction; children engage in increasingly complex sensory-motor skills and movement patterns; combine gross and fine motor movement and balance to achieve increasingly complex patterns of activity; demonstrate spatial awareness; negotiate play spaces to ensure the safety and wellbeing of themselves and others

Outcome 4: Learning: children follow and extend their own interests with enthusiasm, energy and concentration; persist even when they find a task difficult; contribute to mathematical discussions; try out strategies that were effective to solve problems in one situation in a new context; manipulate resources to investigate, take apart, assemble, invent and construct

Outcome 5: Communication: children respond verbally and non-verbally; use vocabulary to describe size, length, and names of numbers; sing songs; begin to understand literacy and numeracy concepts; begin to be aware of the relationships between oral, written and visual representations

child on balance bikeHow could the children learn these things through bike riding?
Through riding around in circles, learning to ride a bigger/different bike, participating in games, making up and leading new games, assisting others when they lose their balance, talking about how to be safe on the bikes, singing songs together while riding around, making courses to ride on, putting up signs like STOP and GIVE WAY, concentrating for extended periods of time, looking after bikes and other equipment in the area, etc.

What are children’s strengths in this area?
Noticing children’s strengths in this area leads to valuable observations about children’s learning. This will be different for each child, but should be recounted in terms of the EYLF outcomes.

How can this learning be extended?
Repetition to allow mastery is the first way of extending children’s learning. Changes and extensions should be introduced after careful consideration and when children show readiness for this. Some extension ideas include:

  1. Read a book that involves bike riding and then act out the story with the children, using the bikes and other equipment in your setting. Then write your own bike riding story together and turn it into a book that you can all read together and that children can access at any time. (Aim: extend literacy skills and enjoyment of reading).
  2. Set up an obstacle course using a variety of materials that you have available. (Aim: for children to be creative in using items in different ways, and to discuss potential safety issues and how to manage them).
  3. Make road signs and place them in strategic positions. (Aim: literacy skills).
  4. Go to a bike shop to look at different bikes. Ask a bike mechanic if the children can watch them working on a bike, and if they can explain some bike maintenance tips. Follow up with tools and materials that children can use to ‘fix’ and ‘maintain’ the bikes in your setting. (Aim: children broaden their understanding of the world in which they live; participate in a variety of rich and meaningful inquiry based experiences; and manipulate objects and experiment with cause and effect ,trial and error, and motion)

Written by Niki Kenny, Professional Development & Research Coordinator at Wynnum Family Day Care & Education Service www.wynnumfdc.org

Wynnum Family Day Care is a member of WynnumCentral.

Image credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnyhunter/1043775061/ ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balance_bicycle

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