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Keep It Moving: Playing With Hoops

About this video

This video shows children playing with hula-hoops in a large space for motor activities at an early childhood center. The children in this video are enrolled in a half-day bilingual preschool classroom. The teachers provide instruction in both English and Spanish. The children may use either language during their self-directed activities, such as gross-motor time.

In this video, we see children meeting benchmarks in science and physical development and health during gross-motor play. Hoop play involves both physics and motor skills. Children need to coordinate many different movements to get their hoops moving in the right direction and at the proper speed and momentum. They experiment with these physics concepts and motor skills when they are rolling their hoops on the floor and circling them around their waists. We also see Anita, the teacher, becoming involved in several ways with the activities of a small group of children playing with the hula-hoops.

Joining With Peers

The clip begins with Mandi (age 5.8) trying various ways of rolling a yellow hoop across the floor: pushing, holding, and releasing, etc. Her goal seems to be to make it roll some distance on its own before it falls over. She follows it as it wobbles along. Imelda (age 5.7) joins her, and they use hand and wrist motions to get their hoops to spin on the floor in front of them. We then see the two girls go through a series of attempts to spin the hoops around their bodies. For example, Mandi puts the hoop over her head, pushes it gently to start it spinning around her waist, and keeps it going briefly by using “hula” motions. She does this multiple times and eventually is able to keep a hoop going for several revolutions.

Meanwhile, Imelda positions a hoop around her neck, gives it a forceful push, and starts a back-and-forth motion with her head and body. The hoop drops, and she picks it up and tries again, this time with the hoop at her waist. She keeps trying, moving her body faster and even jumping a little. Her strategies don’t keep the hoop going, but she continues to try. Though the conversation was difficult to hear due to background noise, the children were speaking together in Spanish during this interaction.

Learning the Moves

As Mandi and Imelda are hula-hooping, Gloria (age 5.3) joins them. Gloria is a child who has been getting extra help with her motor coordination. She has trouble as she tries to spin the hoop around her hips. Her teacher, Anita, comes over to the children and demonstrates the rocking movement that Gloria needs to do with her hips to keep the hoop spinning. Though the specific words are difficult to understand in the video, the teacher speaks in Spanish to accompany the movement she demonstrates.

Gloria has difficulty copying that movement by watching her teacher. Anita notices that Gloria needs more help to learn the move of hula-hooping, and she comes closer to Gloria to help. Gloria has developed a comfortable relationship with Anita during her time at the early childhood center. Anita has helped Gloria in learning other gross and fine-motor tasks. Therefore, Gloria welcomes Anita’s hands-on help to move her hips back and forth so she can create the motion needed to keep the hoop spinning.



No transcript is provided because background noise makes it difficult to hear the exact words.

Benchmarks and How They Were Met

BenchmarksHow They Were Met
12.D.ECb: Explore the effect of force on objects in and outside the early childhood environment.
Mandi and Imelda pushed their hoops to make them roll across the gym floor. Imelda tried a variety of movements, including a hard push, to make her hoop spin around her body. Gloria also tried a variety of movements. Of the three, Mandi had the most success keeping a hoop spinning around her body.
Physical Development and Health
19.A.ECa: Engage in active play using gross- and fine-motor skills.
The children used their gross-motor skills as they moved about the gym and engaged in hula-hooping. Mandi and Imelda engaged in self-directed gross-motor play as they rolled their hoops across the floor and tried hula-hooping.
Physical Development and Health
19.B.ECc: Combine large motor movements with and without the use of equipment.
The children had opportunities to use their gross-motor skills with and without the hoops while playing. Jacob coordinated leg and arm movements to ride the tricycle. Gloria, Mandi, and Imelda worked on coordinating gross-motor movements when playing with the hoops.
Physical Development and Health
20.A.ECa: Participate in activities to enhance physical fitness.
Running and moving in the gym allowed the children to increase their cardiovascular fitness, and learning to use the hula-hoops allowed them to develop muscle strength and coordination.
English Language Learner Home Language Development
28.A.ECb: Use home language in family, community, and early childhood settings.
As the children play in the gym, they have informal opportunities for conversation. In this case, we hear the children speaking Spanish with each other and their teacher as they play.
Social/emotional Development
30.A.ECe: Use materials with purpose, safety, and respect.
The children were given the opportunity to choose the equipment they would play with during gross-motor time. They used the hoops safely by keeping enough distance between themselves and finding a space where the hoops would not interfere with other children’s play in the gym.
Social/emotional Development
31.A.ECc: Interact easily with familiar adults.
The teacher comes over to the children and talks to them about the way they are moving as they roll the hoops around their hips. The teacher has also established rapport with the children, and Gloria is comfortable allowing her teacher to help her to move her body so she can learn the hula-hooping motion.
Social/emotional Development
31.B.ECa: Interact verbally and nonverbally with other children.
The children smile, make eye contact, talk, and laugh together. They watch each other as they are using the hoops. Gloria joins the play with hoops after watching Mandi and Imelda.

WIDA Early English Language Development Standards (E-ELDs)

To assess and make curriculum decisions regarding children whose home language is Spanish, Illinois educators use the Early Spanish Language Development (E-SLD) Standards, developed by World-class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. The observational data described here would be useful for planning instruction. However, a teacher would need multiple pieces of evidence to evaluate a child’s performance level.

In this clip, we watch Mandi, Imelda, and Gloria playing with hula hoops. The WIDA standards inform curricular practices by calling for teachers to develop activities that will allow children to use age-appropriate academic language in the context of the content areas. The opportunity to develop Spanish vocabulary in the content areas is important for their growing English proficiency. Peer conversation is an important venue for language practice and vocabulary development that builds children’s language competence.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers
  • Faculty / Trainer

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2017