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Movement Experiences for Children
KIN 366
Instructor: Dr. Shannon S.D. Bredin
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

To climb means to ascend, go up, or get to the top of (something) by using hands and feet or feet alone; to go up mountains, cliffs, etc., as a sport and to move the body in a way that usually involves going up or down. It can be done both recreationally or competitively and indoors or outdoors on natural and manmade structures (Climbing, 2015).

Using the support points on an object to move in a certain direction, which can be done on steps, climbing walls, rocks, and most playground objects (ANEC, 2004).

Reasons for Climbing

Children climb for fun, enjoyment, challenge, and to explore everything they come in contact with. Climbing is a natural way children exercise their motor skills. Other reasons children climb are because objects are directly in front of them; they want to get away from other children (while playing games), to retrieve objects, to increase their visual view, imitating other children or adults, testing their physical abilities and showing off (Frost, 2004).

Developmental Benefits

Cognitive Requirements

  • Memory
  • Problem Solving
  • Imagery/Visualization

Affective Requirements

  • Dependent on how the child feels directly affects their desire whether or not to participate in climbing activities
  • Self Motivation
  • Is climbing stressful or relaxing?
  • Is fear a factor in whether they climb or not?

Physical Requirements
Vary and depend on what is being climbed (stool compared to a tree). Motor skills involved include body, spatial and directional awareness, power, agility, speed, balance and coordination.

Perceptual Motor Skills Developed While Climbing

  • Body Awareness: being able to decipher between body parts and understanding what the parts can do
  • Spatial Awareness: knowing how much space their body occupies and the ability to move their body through space
  • Directional Awareness: left-right, up-down, top-bottom, in-out, and front-back

Visual Perception Skills

  • The ability to perceive foot and hand holds that the climber uses to support their body when climbing

(Frost, 2004)

Safety Considerations

Households - Bedroom/Kitchen

  • Ensure the oven door is locked at all times regardless of usage
  • Ensure all pots and pans are not within arm’s reach or that can act as a support device
  • Ensure the dishwasher is always closed and that when opened, all utensils have been removed immediately
  • Ensure that all storage containers are closed with childproof locks so that cleaning solvents and bags are safely stored away
  • Ensure all furniture is moved away from windows, fireplace, and/or electrical cabinets
  • Remove all trinkets, magnets and valuables
  • Place gates by stairwells with added support
  • Ensure edges are padded and surfaces are soft


  • Observing foot holes and footing
  • Ensuring equipment is not damaged
  • Making sure the equipment being used is within the limitations of the climber (distances, platforms and supports are acceptable).
  • Making sure the climber is constantly being monitored and within close proximity if elevations are being implemented

(About, 2015)

Development of Climbing Skills

Early climbing behaviour can begin as early as 12 months and will continue to develop into adulthood. It involves coordination of legs, shifting weight, and using the arms to pull the body up. The development of climbing skills occur from 12 months to 14 years of age.

1-1.5 Years Old

  • They begin by pulling themselves up onto railings and edges of furniture and they are not aware of the dangers this may pose.

1.5-2 Years Old

  • Their steps begin to get longer but they still use rails and edges of furniture for support and are still working on maintaining balance,

2-3 Years Old

  • They are now climbing to higher levels with more balance and they have developed an understanding of what is and what is not possible. They also have no fear towards heights.

3-4 Years Old

  • Balance has become more prominent and they are using objects to climb onto and jump off of (beds, ottomans, couches and/or stairs).

4-6 Years Old

  • They are further developing all seven aspects of their motor skills and are starting to learn more difficult movements such as climbing onto a bike by themselves. Parental guidance is still encouraged due to safety aspects and height levels.

7-9 Years Old

  • Children are now playing outside on the playground using the apparatuses frequently to experiment. Most children are unable to climb a rope because they are afraid, unsure of the correct technique, or unable to carry their own body weight. At this age, body mass is becoming more important and limits their ability to climb. Also, the fear of heights becomes more evident and some children may limit the way they climb.

10-14 Years Old

  • Gender differences become more evident due to their changing bodies. Trees, monkey bars, ropes, walls and mountains are climbed more frequently but they are simply using it as a place to look over an area (viewpoint) rather than playing on it like when they were toddlers.

(Frost, 2004)

Climbing Tools

1-3 Years Old

Climbing Tool Object(s)
Inclined Platforms Stairs in a house or on a slide
Platforms High chair, chairs, tables, cupboards, benches, couch and ottomans
Fencing With or Without rails Baby crib
Irregular Objects Mattresses, pillows, soft building blocks, hampers, and cushions
Angled Slope with Supports Side of a slide

4-6 Years Old

Climbing Tool Object(s)
Climbing Frames Irregular steps, playground climbing frames and hoops
Mesh Fence Playground/School Fencing
Angled Slopes with Supports Side of a slide
Angled Ropes Pyramid ropes on a playground
Angled Wall with Supports Climbing wall on playgrounds
Platform Table, ledges and bookshelves

7-9 Years Old

Climbing Tool Object(s)
Irregular Objects Playground and climbing frames with unique openings and trees
Wall without Supports Higher than the Participant Climbing wall/fence
Angled Slope with Supports Side of a slide and a mattress propped against another object to create an incline
Wall with Supports Climbing Wall (Rock Climbing)
Vertical and Angular Ropes Ropes, rope bridges and rope swing

10-14 Years Old

Climbing Tool Object(s)
Irregular Objects Trees
Vertical and Angular Ropes Ropes, rope bridges, rope swing and ropes attached to an angular platform with or without supports
Wall without Supports Professional Climbing Wall
Platform Sheds and small buildings
Ropes Rope pyramid and moveable climbing nets

(ANEC, 2004)

Types of Climbing Activities


  • Ascending boulders that are often done with climbing shoes and a chalk bag. Instead of using a safety rope, a crash pad and a human spotter (who directs the faller) are used to avoid injury


  • Climbing along canyons for sport or recreation

Ice Climbing

  • Using equipment like ice axes to ascend ice or hard snow formations

Indoor climbing

  • Artificial walls with bolted holds in a climbing gym


  • Ascending mountains as a sport or for recreation and it often involves rock or ice climbing

Rock Climbing

  • Using climbing shoes and a chalk bag to ascend rock formations

Rope Climbing

  • Climbing a short, thick rope for speed

Tree Climbing

  • Recreationally ascending trees using rope

(Climbing, 2015)


1. About. (2015). Managing Toddler Climbing and Safety Tips. Retrieved February 27th, 2015, from

2. ANEC. (2004). Children's Climbing Skills. Retrieved from

3. Climbing. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 12th, 2015, from

4. Climbing. (2015). In Retrieved February 12th, 2015, from

5. Frost, J. (2004). The Developmental Benefits of Playgrounds. Retrieved from