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A Whole Lot of Hoopla Happening at a Pre-school Near You

A Whole Lot of Hoopla Happening at a Pre-school Near You

A new programme to help preschool children enjoy being active is being launched across Canterbury tomorrow.

Hoop with Heart, which is a collaboration between in2hula and the Heart Foundation of New Zealand, is being rolled out for early learning services and centres.

Hoop with Heart spokesperson, Bernadette Smith says the programme is designed to help early learning services fulfil the physical activity requirements of the Heart Foundation Healthy Heart Award while also reinforcing a number of the guidelines of the Ministry of Education's early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki.

“Combining the physical activity requirements with Te Whāriki makes Hoop with Heart a very beneficial programme for early learning services as well as for the children,” she says. “Of course the most significant benefit for the children is that it is an enjoyable way to learn and be active.”

Smith says hula hoops are versatile and convenient.

“The activities in the Hoop with Heart programme range from active games to skill sessions to pretend-play to imaginative play such as using a hoop to act out a story,” she says. “All of the activities are carried out to music which adds to the positive energy and enjoyment.”

Adults can be “hoopers” too, and with hula hoops being relatively cheap and easy to access, it’s possible for children and their parents to hoop together. I know many adults who use the wrong sized hula hoop which means it just falls off and doesn’t move around them. Then they give up. Don’t give up,” says Smith. “Use the right sized hoop and you will be away laughing, literally. It’s lots of fun.”

Two trial sessions have been run with children at Kidsfirst, Ilam kindergarten and the teaching team said it was a fantastic way to get their tamariki involved.

“We found they were very responsive and what a fun way of moving to a story line. Both Janine and Bernie from Hoop with Heart, had some great teaching strategies that the children responded readily to,” said teacher Isla Connolly.

With the focus on children’s mental health in Canterbury once again, it’s timely to note that the benefits of the Hoop with Heart programme are holistic and help children’s overall sense of wellbeing.

“Laughter always seems to accompany the sessions and we all know how good laughing is for you. Quite seriously, the laughing and ‘letting go’ is an important part of playing with hula hoops,” says Bernadette Smith.

Early learning services can access all the resources for the Hoop with Heart programme online at including child sized hula hoops at a discounted bulk rate, hoop huggies for storage, registration for teacher professional development courses and the Hoop with Heart Kit which includes the complete Hoop with Heart programme and the manual from the teachers’ professional development course.

Initially facilitators will only be available in the Canterbury area, but resources will be available online to early learning services around New Zealand, and facilitators will be trained to provide the programme in other areas before the end of the year.

Facilitated sessions for early learning services can be booked by contacting Bernadette Smith on 021 2466 779 or 0800 466779 or via


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