Why Movement In A Box? To Help Inspire Children to be Active for Life!

It all started on a bus ride in North Dakota in 2013. Molly and I were at a stop on the pre-Olympic tour, she was a goaltender on the US Women’s National Ice Hockey Team, and I was their Strength & Conditioning coach. We had just finished a game and were settling into one of our favorite conversations:  ways we could change the world. The focus of the conversation was often around ways to help more children have access to sports, play, and physical activity. We would exchange stories about all the ways sport and movement helped shape our lives, both mentally and physically, and we would dream about how someday we would team up again and put our ideas into action.

Fast forward a few years to when I had my first child. Observing how he learned and developed, his constant moving, mimicking, and gesturing, led me to research more about gross motor development in young children. I was amazed to find out that children learn more physical skills in their first six years than at any other point in their lives. Moreover, between the ages of 2-7, children are in what is known as the fundamental movement phase of motor development. Fundamental movement skills, such as  jumping, skipping, throwing, and catching, are known as the ABC’s of movement, and they serve as the foundation for more advanced skills required in sports and everyday life.  

I also completed an audit on the state of physical education in the United States. Put nicely, the results were not good. With advances in technology, increased screen time, and higher academic demands, recess and physical education are often overlooked. Now, with a global pandemic in our midst, researchers are pointing to a new epidemic of childhood inactivity.

Did You Know?

  • 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age 5 (Urban Child Institute)
  • Only 2% of preschoolers know how to catch a ball (Irish Times)
  • Only 6 states currently require daily PE for their students and many public-school districts don’t have PE teachers on staff (SHAPE America)
  • When movement is combined with language, learning increases by 90% (Michigan State University)

If research continues to show us that kids who are active are physically healthier, more socially connected, and academically stronger, why don’t we value movement the same way we do math and science? Like reading and writing, the ABC’s of movement must be taught, explored, and practiced during these critical developmental years. We know that when kids have positive movement experiences, they are more likely to stay active as adults.

If we think hard enough, we can all remember that first time we scored a goal, caught a ball, or climbed to the top of the playground structure. That moment where you raised your hands over your head and proudly said, "I did it!"  That combination of motivation and confidence often leads to the most important question a child can ask, “if I can do that, what else can I do?”

That question of ‘What else?’ has guided our lives from street hockey games in the cul de sac to the Olympic stage and beyond.  How can we share our passion and experience with as many kids as possible? How can we help families move, play, and learn TOGETHER? These questions, and years of conversation, ultimately inspired us to create Movement in a Box, a subscription box that combines fundamental movement and learning activities for children ages 3-6

We know that life is busy. Parents are pulled in a million directions and play time can often feel more like work. By creating fun, age-appropriate, and research-based activities that combine movement with learning and conveniently delivering them directly to a family’s doorstep, parents can feel confident that their child is developing the foundational skills needed for a lifetime of physical activity. Families receive a new box every three months containing movement- related equipment, a Movement Guide with 12 activities, ‘Did You Know’ facts and developmental tips, as well as access to video support online. For example, kids will hop, skip, and jump while learning their shapes or practice their throwing and catching while learning colors! Plus, activities are designed to grow with each child instead of a “one and done” toy that collects dust after a few uses. 

As lifelong movers and educators, we bring 30+ years of experience competing and coaching at the Olympic, NCAA, and professional level. One of my favorite sayings is “Make the world your gym!” Everyone can be a mover. Movement is all around us.  To show how simple it can be, here are three of our favorite activities to play with kids anytime anywhere.

1. Body Bridging: find a counter or hallway and take turns making various bridges with your body that your little one has to crawl under, jump over, or creatively sidestep! You can make it easier or harder depending on the age of your child.

2. Animal Walks: Encourage your child to move like various animals around the room! For example, “hop like a bunny”, “jump like a frog”, “stomp like an elephant”, “chomp like an alligator”, “waddle like a duck”, “slither like a snake”, or “fly like a bird”. Or act like your favorite animal and see if your child can guess what you are and vice versa.

3. Pillow Simon Says: Encourage your child to follow simple cues, such as, “put your hand on the pillow”, “walk around the pillow”, or “jump over the pillow”. Some of our favorite movements include jumping, galloping, walking in different directions, and many more. Make sure to take turns and let your child give the cues! (No pillow? No problem! Simon can give movement cues that interact with whatever environment you are in.)

By inspiring children to love movement at a young age and by providing parents with a simple and easy answer to a child’s favorite question, “Will you play with me?”, we can begin to combat these alarming trends and help create a new generation of lifelong movers. Most importantly, we will create more opportunities for families to explore the joys of movement together.

Join us! Share the joy of movement and play with a child in your life. Better yet, let yourself play like a child again! Let’s change the narrative surrounding childhood inactivity.

Let’s Get Moving!

Sarah & Molly

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