Keeping Tiny Tots On Track

A Sample Lesson Plan for Very Young Athletes

Below is a list of activities – written in a lesson plan format – that I have used when leading athletics sessions with pre-school children.        

Time required                 

30 to 40 minutes


  • Ground markers x 30
  • Hoops – One for each participant
  • Bean bags – One for each participant
  • Ribbons – One for each participant
  • Whistle
  • Parachute/Play chute


Locomotor skills, body and spatial awareness, throwing, catching, balancing, jumping, hopping, landing.

1. Group Game: “Bean Bag Bungle”


Set up a playing area, identifying boundaries with ground markers. Scatter the area with bean bags – one for each child. Children scatter randomly within the playing area.


The children move about within the playing area, performing an activity specified by the instructor e.g. Walking and clapping, hopping, jumping “like a kangaroo”, walking on toes and reaching up “like a giraffe”, walking on heels, marching, etc. On the leader’s whistle, the children find a bean bag and put their foot on it. After several turns at this, placing a foot on the bean bag can be replaced by touching the bean bag with elbows, knees, ears, etc.

2. Individual Bean Bag Challenges

  • Balance bean bag on head, foot, shoulder, knee, elbow, etc.
  • With bean bag on head, turn around, kneel down, sit down, etc.
  • Place bean bag on head; drop off head and catch.
  • Walk around with bean bag on head, foot, etc.
  • Throw up bean bag from foot and catch it.
  • On all fours, place bean bag on back and shake it off (“Wet dog after a bath”).
  • Continuously throw bean bags into the air to make it “rain bean bags”.

3. Ribbons & Hoops

Prepare this activity by scattering enough hoops for each participant throughout the playing area. Place a ribbon in each hoop.

Each participant finds a hoop and stands in it.

  • Hold the ribbon in two hands and step over it forwards and backwards.
  • Draw big circles with the ribbon.
  • Wave the ribbon like a flag.
  • Wave the ribbon around the head like a helicopter.
  • Draw “squiggles” in the air with the ribbon.
  • “Clean/sweep the floor” with the ribbon.

Find a different hoop.

  • Jump into and out of the hoop – forwards, backwards, sideways.
  • Hop into and out of the hoop.
  • Start with one foot in and one foot out of the hoop. Switch feet.
  • Run on the spot in the hoop swinging arms, swinging ribbon.
  • “Put hoop on” by putting it over the head and letting it settle by the feet. “Take the hoop off” by reversing the action.
  • Stand back from the hoop and throw the ribbon in.
  • Leave ribbons on ground, pick up the hoop and “drive around”. Use the hoop like a steering wheel. Drive around until the leader blows the whistle. Find a ribbon and put hoop over it.

4. Free hoop play

Allow the participants free creative play with the hoops. Provide some ideas:

  • Roll the hoop.
  • Step through the hoop.
  • Spin the hoop.
  • Balance the hoop.

Ask who can make up their own special “trick” with the hoops.

5. Parachute Games

Participants spread evenly around the parachute.

Shake it

Shake the parachute up and down to make waves. Shake it at waist height; shake it at ankle height; shake it above head height; shake it from side to side; hit the parachute while holding it with the other hand.


Make a “Mushroom”. Participants squat down, holding the parachute tightly with two hands. On a signal (“1…2…3…MUSHROOM!!”) everyone stands up, lifting the parachute above their heads and holding it up to make a mushroom shape. On a signal, the parachute is then pulled back down to the ground.


Make an “Igloo”. This is done by firstly making a mushroom, but then taking one step forward and pulling the parachute down behind. Everyone ends up under the parachute, keeping hold of the parachute and sitting on its edge.

Washing Machine

Play “Washing Machine”. Send some of the participants to sit or lie underneath the parachute. These people are the “dirty washing”. The remainder of the participants hold the parachute at waist level. These people make up the “washing machine”. Tell everyone that the washing machine is going to wash the dirty washing. To do this, those who make up the washing machine follow your actions:

  • Put in the washing powder – Hold the parachute with one hand while hitting with the other hand.
  • Wash cycle – Shake the parachute from side to side.
  • Rinse Cycle – Shake the parachute up and down.
  • Spin Cycle – “Dry the washing off” by making three mushrooms.

What are your favourite activities to use with very young athletes?

I would love to hear your ideas. Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using the contact details below.

If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.

Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.

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