Physical activity


Planned learning

Educators focus on the following aspects of children’s learning:

  • enthusiasm and enjoyment for physical play and activity
  • skills for visual tracking and coordinating hands, eyes and feet to achieve physical movements and actions
  • fundamental movement skills, including balancing, running, jumping, catching, hopping, skipping and kicking
  • skills for demonstrating spatial awareness and orienting themselves and moving around and through their environments safely
  • capabilities for exploring and responding to the environment with increasing integration and refinement
  • delight in experimenting with space, balance, direction, form, rhythm and energy using music, dance and movement.


Educators intentionally promote this learning, for example, when they:

  • build on the physical skills children have developed within the context of family and community, for example, expertise in community sport, traditional games, hunting, fishing, swimming, dance and crafts provide many opportunities for children to safely run, jump, climb, throw, kick, catch, bounce, dig, balance, swing, push, bend, stretch, roll, change direction
  • provide free access to a large range of manipulative tools, mediums and materials (man-made and natural) on a daily basis to cut, construct, sculpt, build, weave, hammer, carve, sew, thread, staple, fold, tear, draw, paint and approximate symbols
  • model and demonstrate techniques for using tools, materials and equipment, for example, scissors, brushes, staplers
  • label children’s movements, in Standard Australian English and first languages, for example, ‘that was a deadly kick’, ‘look how far you can run’, ‘what a big stretch’, ‘how can we move this block?’
  • create challenge in children’s physical activity, for example, ‘how can you get up there?’, ‘I wonder how high you can go?’, ‘that’s a small space, I wonder if you can fit?’
  • encourage children to explore, share and model alternative ways to manipulate objects and move their body in space
  • invite community experts and Elders to share culturally specific knowledge and skills that integrate and extend children’s physical capabilities
  • design an environment that incorporates both quiet, private spaces and open, active spaces to develop children’s diverse physical competencies
  • consult with families and communities to ensure that experiences incorporate local knowledge and skills, both contemporary and traditional, for example, traditional cookery, weaving and spear making
  • provide many opportunities for children to use their hands to create and manipulate, for example, natural materials, blocks, puzzles and construction sets
  • incorporate contemporary and traditional action rhymes, songs, finger plays and games, in Standard Australian English and first languages, that develop fine motor control and hand-eye coordination
  • provide games or adapted sports, for example, soccer and rugby league, that develop whole body coordination
  • integrate planned and spontaneous movement, dance and physical activity across all areas of the program both inside and outside
  • provide props to support movement and creative expression – feathers, ribbons, bells, masks, materials and face paint, and contemporary and traditional musical instruments.

Documenting and reflecting

Educators look for evidence of children’s learning. Examples are listed below.

In the familiar contexts of family and community when children:

  • climb adeptly
  • skillfully run, throw, swim and feel entirely at home in their environment
  • demonstrate keen visual and spatial skills
  • enthusiastically participate in community sport and recreation, for example, soccer, football, fishing, hunting, gathering, riding bareback, games, diving and swimming
  • take considered risks and make their own decisions about safe physical play
  • wait silently
  • enjoy active involvement in the physical actions of songs, dances and games of the local community
  • enthusiastically experiment using their bodies in space
  • willingly try out new climbing, movement and balancing challenges.

In new and unfamiliar contexts of an early learning program when children:

  • manage outdoor play spaces and equipment with prompts and visual cues
  • manipulate cutting and drawing tools with encouragement, modelling and support, for example, use scissors, cut dough and use paint brushes
  • participate and engage in sensory experiences with adult support and encouragement, for example, water and sand play
  • experiment with construction and manipulation materials to put together and take apart
  • respond to familiar language related to movements with the support of like-language speaking adults.

In the familiar contexts of a culturally secure early learning program when children:

  • show agility, strength, flexibility, control, balance and coordination of their body in space
  • safely run, jump, climb, throw, kick, catch, bounce, dig, balance, swing, push, bend, stretch and roll
  • implement increased control of the fine movements of their hands, for example, while drawing, painting, cutting, weaving and sculpting
  • begin to demonstrate hand preference and to use a particular grip to manipulate equipment and manage tools
  • visually track objects to hit a ball with a bat, or catch a ball or beanbag
  • respond to familiar language related to movements, for example, ‘this foot first’, ‘can you bend this way?’, ‘let’s run fast’, ‘which block will you carry?’ ‘I wonder if it will fit here?’, ‘what happens if we turn it around?’.


Last updated 01 June 2022