Cycling games spread across Denmark

| September 7, 2015
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Concentration: Children will get more confident on a bike faster when they catch soap bubbles, play ‘bicycle ball’ and play catch on two wheels. Photo: Danish Cyclists’ Federation/Kristine Funch

More and more kindergarten children play games on bicycles and in the near future 10 Danish cities get permanent bicycle playgrounds. The concept of cycling games developed by the Danish Cyclists’ Federation has made significant headway.

By Rikke Ravn Faber, Danish Cyclists’ Federation

Making cycle training fun

Do you want to see something that will make you feel happy? Then look over the fence of a kindergarten where the children play cycling games. If you are lucky, soap bubbles will be whirling through the air while the children zip in and out amongst each other in order to catch them. Deeply concentrated, they cycle with one hand on the handlebars and one in the air. Their eyes sparkle when they succeed with this difficult maneuver – and they often do. Because when they play, the children are better at cycling than they and their parents thought possible.

The campaign “We can bike!” is supposed to ignite a joy of cycling in pre-school kids throughout the whole country. In the early summer 4,000 children played along. That is twice as many as last year and the plan is to double that again in 2016 because interest from the kindergartens is rising rapidly.

“It is amazing. We can tell that the kindergarten teachers have become aware of the very broad learning children get out of playing together on bikes,” says project manager for the campaign, Mai-Britt Aagaard Kristensen.

Playing creates many skills

In all its simplicity cycling games are well-known children’s games that the Danish Cyclists’ Federation has turned into cycling games. The games have turned out to be efficient bicycle training and a strong learning tool matching many of the goals of the institutions’ learning plans.

Zigzagging through obstacles with a mission to be accomplished means that the children become better at controlling the bicycle and their speed. But they also learn to cooperate with each other in solving problems. They raise their pulse. And their senses and motor skills come into play as well.

During cycling games the children quickly forget that they are practising something – and then they suddenly develop fast.

“I often meet parents who are extremely proud and surprised at how much their child has learned after only a couple of hours of cycling games, and many get the urge to cycle more with their children,” says Mai-Britt Aagaard Kristensen.

Cycling game parks on the way

The kindergartens each get a package full of ideas and tools to get them started and the Danish Cyclists’ Federation cycling games corps offers inspiration courses for the kindergarten teachers.

For three years the Danish Cyclists’ Federation have been running “We can bike!” with support from the fund Oestifterne. In the long run the goal is for the cycling games to become a permanent part of children’s development and fortunately several forces are now pulling in the same direction.

After some years where the number of children cycling has decreased, more and more municipalities are setting the goal that all children must be able to cycle before starting school. And in the coming three years Danish Cyclists’ Federation, with support from the fund Nordea-fonden, will establish permanent bicycle playgrounds in 10 Danish cities – with seesaws, bumps and zigzag lanes inviting institutions and families alike to play on bicycles. Right now all Danish municipalities can apply for a grant for a bicycle playground.

About cycling games

Children have always played on bicycles. But the concept of cycling games was invented by Danish Cyclists’ Federation in 2008. The goal was to spread the joy of cycling to a new generation and curb the decrease in the number of children cycling. The concept consists of a series of games developed by experts in children and movement. To begin with we published a book on cycling games – today that book has been supplemented by campaigns, bicycle playgrounds and a specialist cycling game corps arranging events and courses.

Play cycling games yourselves

Children down to the age of two can start practising cycling games on a running bike. All you need is a bicycle, an area with no traffic and the inspiration leaflet “6 Cycling Games,” which is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.

Category: Campaigns, Children, Newsletters in English