Store your resources in your very own folder.

Sign in or sign up today!

Find out more

Topsy-turvy toys

Add to My Folder
This item has 5 stars of a maximum 5

Rated 5/5 from 1 rating (Write a review)

By Louise HansonCreative Resources Manager at NES

This month, we’ve teamed up with first2learn, brought to you by NES, to provide some dance and movement activities, on the theme of ‘Toys’

Encouraging children to become physically active from a young age is vital – it keeps them fit and healthy and gives them the chance to explore and engage with the world around them. Basic dance and movement classes are a perfect way to help a child’s development and can offer a creative medium through which they can express themselves.

Louise Hanson, Creative Resources Manager, illustrates how being active can be carried out in an exciting and creative way in the following activities.

Alphabet shapes

Physical Development

Movement and Space

Move with control and coordination.

What you need

Letter vests; wooden alphabet letters or squidgy sparkly letters; lively music.

What to do


Invite the children to wear the letter vests and point to the first five letters of the alphabet – ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, ‘d’ and ‘e’. Ask them to repeat the letters in turn and to think about the shape of each letter, for example, ‘Is it bendy, round, straight?’.

Play some lively background music. Call out the letter ‘a’, and while holding up the alphabet shape or pointing to the letter vest, ask the children to move and dance like the shape of the letter ‘a’. Repeat with the other letters. While the children are moving around, continue to ask them questions that encourage them to think about how the shape looks and ‘feels’. Does it curve or does it slither like a snake, or have humps like a camel? Encourage the children to practise the ‘alphabet’ shapes while trying to keep in rhythm to the music.

Louise Says:

‘This is a wonderful way to help the children develop awareness of shapes and sizes, and encourages them to think about their body, enabling them to express themselves in an active, physical manner. They can move around freely with little restriction, while learning to coordinate their actions in time to the music’.

Mechanical movements

Creative Development

Developing Imagination and Imaginative Play

Use their imagination in art and design, music, dance, imaginative and role-play and stories.

What you need

Sequencing spots or throw-down spots; tambourine.

What to do


Ask the children to name some toys that need winding up, such as robots and novelty toys. Ask them to think about the movements that these toys make and how fast or slow they move.

Invite the children to stand still and pretend to be robots being wound up. Ask them to make noises that they imagine they sound like, such as the winding up of a robot, together with the hand actions.

Now ask the children to practise dancing around with straight limbs, using only smooth movements and being careful not to bump into each other. While they are doing this, place some small sequencing spots on the floor. Ask them to move towards one and stand on it. Encourage the children to practise repeated actions by moving their arms and legs and jerking their head without actually moving from their chosen spot. Can they balance with one leg out and one arm in the air?

Finally, ask the children to imagine that they are winding down and start slowing their actions with their head and limbs until they are sat on the floor. When you shout ‘Stop’, and simultaneously bang a tambourine, the children should freeze as the robot stops moving.

Louise says:

‘This activity encourages the children to use their imagination while also teaching them to coordinate and concentrate on their movements. The restriction in how they can move by acting stiff and robotic is great for control and concentration’.


Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Making Relationships

Work as part of a group or class, taking turns and sharing fairly, understanding that there needs to be agreed values and codes of behaviour for groups of people, including adults and children, to work together harmoniously.

What you need

Jack-in-the-box; tumble mats.

What to do

Jack in the box

Invite the children to explore the Jack-in-the-box. Then ask them to stand in a circle while one child lies on a mat in the middle of the circle and pretends to be ‘Jack’.

‘Jack’ should curl up into a ball as the rest of the children hold hands and side-step around the circle until you ask them to move inwards towards ‘Jack’ and then back out again. As they move outwards, ‘Jack’ should jump up out of the ‘box’ and then back down again into a ball. Repeat this with different children being ‘Jack’.

first2learn is brought to you by the professionals at NES and provides a comprehensive range of inspiring early years resources dedicated to the development of young minds. Focusing on the Early Years Foundation Stage framework (EYFS), you will find everything you need for your early years setting, inspiring the future of young children. Visit NES Arnold or call 0845 120 4525.

Then, ask the children to each lie on a mat, imagine that they are ‘Jack’ and that they have been placed inside a box. Call out commands, such as ‘Slowly curl up into a ball’, ‘Roll on to your right side in the box’, ‘Roll on to your left side’, ‘Jump up, stretch out and then fall back down again into a ball’.

Louise says:

‘Jack-in-the-box is an energetic activity that incorporates group work. This provides the children with an opportunity to consider not only their own movements, but also those around them – to keep in time with the circle they have to coordinate themselves well. It is also great for their own body awareness and moving at the right time and in the correct ways to the commands’.