PLATTSBURGH — Dr. Diane Craft leads a unique one-day conference, “Active Play! Fun and Physical Activities for Young Children,” on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Family Connections.
The conference’s title is taken from Craft’s book of the same name that she co-wrote with her husband, Craig Smith.
“What prompted this conference is obesity prevention and the need to get very young children, toddlers through 5 years old, moving and active physically,” said Jamie Basiliere, executive director of the Childcare Coordinating Council of the North Country.
“We hope to draw preschool teachers, childcare providers and kindergarten teachers to this all-day program, offering a day of fun, physical and developmentally appropriate things to do with children 18 months to 5 years,” Basiliere said. “The activities require readily available and inexpensive equipment. They are simple-to-lead activities to get children the practice they need for proper movement, skill development and obesity prevention.”
Craft is a professor in adapted physical education at SUNY Cortland, past president of the National Consortium of Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities and a past chair of the national Adapted Physical Activity Council.
She was always a strong advocate of inclusion in preschool physical activities, including students with special needs.
“It quickly became apparent that there was little information on developmentally appropriate physical activities for preschoolers,” Craft said. “My husband and I decided we should write a book to address and overcome a number of barriers to physical activity.”
At the heart of the activities is inexpensive equipment that can be purchased at a dollar store or is readily available around the house.
“We tried all the activities in several different family-childcare settings. The ones in the book are the ones that worked. We tried it in family childcare where students of multiple ages are together. These activities tend to work well with children of different ages and abilities. We thought it would be helpful to have a DVD showing children doing the activities,” Craft said.