Parachutes are versatile. They can be used for exercising, playing games, and building teamwork. You can teach simple games to toddlers, play active ones with children, and adjust them to be played while sitting in a chair or wheelchair. Try these games and find out why parachutes are so much fun!
7 Fun Parachute Games for Children and Seniors
This is a great starting activity to get everyone used to moving the parachute and working together.
Have everyone stand around the chute and hold onto a handle. On the count of three, everyone should raise the handle above their head. If they bring it down to the floor it makes a mushroom shape. Have them lift it up again, then quickly lower it to the ground behind them. This creates a canopy cover so they are inside the mushroom.
2. All Change
Looking for an icebreaker? Use this game as a “get to know everyone” activity to share common interests.
Make sure everyone holds one handle using both hands. One person calls out information and then everyone lifts the parachute. If it applies to you, you run under the parachute to switch places with someone else before it falls. Some examples include things like birthday months, favorite colors or foods, if you’re wearing a specific color, if you have a sibling or pet, and if you like to do a specific activity.
3. Cat and Mouse
This game encourages turn-taking and physical activity. Be sure to remind the participants to play nicely.
Choose one person to be the “mouse” and another to be the “cat”. Everyone else should sit on the ground holding onto the parachute. The mouse crawls under the parachute and moves around. Meanwhile, the cat crawls on top of the parachute searching for the mouse. The others wiggle and wave the parachute to hide the mouse. Switch roles when the mouse is “caught” and let other people have a turn.
Adapt this game to be played as a fun gross motor game for toddlers and seniors or play it as a competitive game for older children.
Put soft balls on the parachute. Everyone should stand and hold a handle. Shake the parachute and move it up and down. The balls will look like popcorn popping.
Place an even amount of two colors of balls on the parachute. For example, you could use ten soft, red balls and ten soft, blue balls. Then divide the group into two teams. The red team wants to shake the parachute while keeping the red balls on and popping the blue balls off. The blue team tries for the opposite. When all the colored balls of one team are gone, the other team has won. Switch around who is on each team and play again.
5. Sharks and Lifeguards
This game is active and best for children who can follow directions. Remind the “sharks” to be gentle and the other children to watch their heads and not kick.
Choose your “sharks” and “lifeguards.” The amount will vary based on your group size. Everyone else should sit on the ground with their legs straight out in front of them. They will shake the parachute to create ocean waves. The children can also call out “Lifeguard save me!” when needed. The sharks go under the parachute and pull other kids under. If a child ends up under the parachute, they become a shark too. Meanwhile, the lifeguard walks around the parachute and can “save” someone by pulling them out. When most of the children are now “sharks”, switch around the roles and start the game again.
Play this game with groups of any age. You can incorporate music for additional fun.
Have everyone turn sideways and hold a handle with their left hand. They walk around in a circle to create a “merry-go-round.” Change it up and have them skip, hop, or march around in a circle. If you play music, you can pause it, cueing the participants to switch directions.
7. Nursery Rhymes
Match the parachute movements to common nursery rhymes like “Ring Around the Rosie” or “London Bridge is Falling Down.” Here’s an example using “The Wheels on the Bus.”
The wheels on the bus go round and round (walk around in a circle while holding onto the parachute)
The door on the bus goes open and shut (take a few steps toward the center and back out)
The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep (jump up and down three times, once on each beep)
The windows on the bus go open and shut (raise the chute above head for “open” and then lower parachute down to toes on “shut”)
The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish (hold parachute with 2 hands and move arms from side to side)
The babies on the bus go waa, waa, waa (pretend to wipe eyes using the parachute like a tissue)
Parachute Play Safety
Make sure the floor isn’t slippery and the grass isn’t wet to avoid falls. The area should be open and clear of obstacles. Everyone should take turns, watch where they’re going, follow the teacher’s/leader’s instructions, and play gently.
Benefits of Parachute Play for Children
- Teaches kids to follow directions
- Encourages cooperation
- Reinforces turn-taking and sharing
- Works the arms, shoulders, and torso
- Promotes communication and language skills
- Develops a sense of rhythm
- Introduces physical activity as fun
Benefits of Parachute Games for the Elderly
- Promotes socialization
- Offers exercise for the upper extremities and torso
- Encourages range of motion and reaching
- Creates a sense of belonging as they find others who share their interests
- Exercises the mind as they work together and follow directions
Other Fun Uses for Parachutes
- Use the parachute with music
- Have children sit on different sections during storytime
- Hang it as a backdrop for photos or an open house
- Throw bean bags on different colored sections to choose activities (what book to read, what math problem to solve, what game to play next…)
- Create a “cave,” “ circus tent,” or other props for pretend play
Are you ready for parachute games? Get your own parachute and start playing!
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