How to Find the Music
Songs that work well with the parachute involve spinning, circles, jumping, bouncing, popping, or balls (just a few key words to get you going). You can also use music with a good beat. I also like songs that will lend itself to bouncing things on the parachute (ex. Five Little Monkeys). The kids will bounce all day long if you let them, but I like to change it up for them and add in some extra fun. I will admit that I am a big fan of using my work iPod and iTunes software to put together playlists. As music that I order comes in, I add them to my iTunes and sort them into folders as to how they fit my programming (ex. Possible Parachute Games songs). This makes it easy for me to actually sit down and plan the program as all of the music is in one place.
Set Up & Registration
Parachute Games is one of those programs where it is handy to have registration. You only have so many handles on the parachute. While you can fudge the numbers a little, you don't want 60 kids showing up to play with a 20 handle parachute. You also don't want only 1 child showing up. We sign up 20 kids for our program (as we have a 20 handle parachute). Normally a day or two ahead of time I will bump in an extra 2-4 kids as you will have kids who don't show up. To make this decision, I look at how many siblings could possibly be available to pick up some slack in case a chunk of kids don't show up.
1. If You're Happy and You Know It-We started off by singing our first song. I found it last week on Laughter and Literacy and have never heard it before. The verses are:
If you're happy and you know it, lift it high!
If you're happy and you know it, shake it fast!
If you're happy and you know it, shake it slow!
If you're happy and you know it, shake it low!
2. Round the Village by Wee Sing on Wee Sing and Play-This is a good slow song to get going. You get to go around the circle, go in and out, and turn the circle again.
3. Old MacDonald by Mr. Eric & Mr. Michael on Bouncy Blue-You may wonder why this is a parachute song, but it has a good beat. Plus, if you throw on some puppets, the kiddos can bounce the puppets. For this one, you will need a cow, a dog, and a chicken.
4. ABC Song by Rachel De Azevedo Coleman on Signing Time Songs, Vol. 2-We bounced again, but used giant foam letters. This song has a good slow and steady beat which makes it perfect for bouncing. Plus, it throws in some extra early literacy.
5. Moving in a Circle by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael on Rockin' Red-This is a circle spinning song again. It tends to slow the kids down as they get super excited about bouncing things. You will get to walk, jump, and take baby steps with the parachute.
6. Spin Around by The Fresh Beat Band on The Fresh Beat Band Vol. 2.0-This is one of those songs that will stick in your head all day long. It is a fun and peppy spinning song.
7. Ring Around the Rosie by Caspar Babypants on Sing Along!-I am loving Caspar Babypants right now, but am having a hard time getting it to catch on. This is a circle song again, but you get to fall down. The 2-4 year olds love to fall down and think it is the silliest thing ever.
8. Juggling, Juggling, Juggling Balls by The Wiggles on Hot Poppin' Popcorn-I have a bunch of mini beach balls that I got as part of a parachute set from Oriental Trading. Beach balls are great for the parachute because they "pop", but you can also deflate them to maximize your storage space.
9. Family Train by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael on Outrageous Orange-We did this as a spinning song to slow things down again. What is cool is that there is a shaking part at the end of each verse.
10. Popcorn- by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights on I'm a Rock Star-It's time to bounce the parachute again.
11. Rolling Ball by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael on Groovy Green-The original idea was to roll the balls across the parachute. This didn't work as this group was too young so we just bounced. You will need balls in the following colors-red, yellow, blue, purple, green, and orange.
12. Popcorn by the Barenaked Ladies on Snacktime!-Nothing beats Popcorn as a finale song as it is super fast and you get to bounce everything. If you have any balls or props left, throw them on the parachute to bounce.
Today's Happy Accident
I didn't plan this, but one of the kiddos asked if we could play with the beach balls after the program. (I don't know about your weather, but right now in Michigan it is 90 degrees with 100% humidity so nobody is playing outside unless it is in a pool!) I didn't have anywhere that I had to be right away so I said okay. The kids had the BEST time ever playing with each other. The moms and dads let the babies down so they could play too. We had a newspaper photographer at the program and they stayed afterwards to talk to the parents and get even more pictures. Plus, when they left, they cleaned everything up. It was a great experience!
Normally I would pull off the props in between each song, but we had a really young group this time so I just left them all on. Otherwise, every child would have followed me onto the parachute and it takes time to get them all back off and to find a handle again. It didn't hurt anything to add stuff to our bouncing pile.
Also, this is a fun and noisy program. This sometimes scares kids, especially if they are younger. They don't all want to hold the parachute. With those kids, I sometimes give them the balls (and other stuff) to throw on the parachute. It is a way to keep them involved, but it isn't as scary as making the parachute go up and down.
Parachute Games is a great low-cost program that you can run at your library. Once you buy the parachute and any extras, they last a long time so they are a good one-time investment. It also requires little prep time for a quality program. Plus, with the bright colors of the parachute and the cuteness of the little kids, you know that parents will take lots of pictures to post online, which will show off your library well.