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The Helix

What does your child learn while playing on The Helix? Watch how they play and read below to discover how it supports their learning and development.

Gross Motor Skills

Big body movements are gross motor activities, and playing in The Helix takes all those big muscles to climb, bend, and jump from platform to platform. Watch as your child gets into The Helix. Do they cautiously approach every new platform unsure of whether to go foot first, head first, or knees first? Do they deftly scale to the top as if they could do this in their sleep? Depending on a child's age and amount of practice they have climbing and knowing where their body is in space will impact how they approach The Helix.

The more time your child spends in The Helix the more refined their big body muscles will become and you will see their confidence and ability grow. Do you still have a toddler who wants you to go with them? You can climb together!

Social-Emotional Development

Self-regulation is the ability to pause and think before acting on an impulse. Children are developing this skill daily, and The Helix provides a great opportunity for self-regulation. When a child is climbing, they choose how fast or slow to climb, whether to move up or down, and how long to play. All of these are opportunities for a child to use and develop their self-regulation skills.

The Helix provides opportunities to interact with peers while climbing. Usually, more than one child climbs at a time. This provides opportunities for conversation, maybe even conflict resolution. For example, if a child is rushing another child there is an opportunity for the child being rushed to use their words to express their concerns about the speed. Maybe they will decide how to switch places on the platform so they both feel safe and are playing how they want to play. If you let a situation be child-led they will have the opportunity to find a solution they are both happy with, and it might not be what you expected at all.


Solving problems, even at a basic level, is a science skill. It is the beginning of the scientific method: question, hypothesis, experiment, analysis, and conclusions. The scientific method, problem-solving, in The Helix could look something like this:

Question: How do I get down?

Hypothesis: If I go feet first I will land on my feet on the next platform.

Experiment: Goes down to the next platform feet first.

Analysis: That worked how I expected, I kept my body safe.

Conclusion: Going forward, when I want to go down, I want to go feet first.

This is also a place for using, exploring, and refining your senses, another science concept. How do the platforms feel? Is there more than one texture on each platform? How do the supports like the metal netting on the outside feel? What does it sound like when I climb with my shoes on or off? What can I see from the top, middle, and bottom? Using and developing sensory systems is another science concept that leads to future learning.

If some of these questions seem too basic for your older child, it is because they are going through the questions faster. As they have had time to grow and explore, they are still using these basic skills and practicing even if they move through the steps at a quicker pace.


Basic math concepts can be found in most places and made more noticeable by adults interacting with the materials and their children. Talking about the different shapes that make up the helix, using words like oval and cylinder help develop math skills. Counting the colored platforms and classifying them into categories is an adult facilitated math skill. You can try, "I wonder how many different colors are up there? Climb up and report back on what you found." Or encouraging them to look closer at the color differences by saying something like, "I wonder if the colors look different inside The Helix as they look from out here?"

For older children, you can encourage them to add or subtract using their body and the platforms. Ask something like, "What is three plus two minus four?" To add the child needs to count and climb upward, to subtract they need to count and descend The Helix. This could be a fun way to maintain a child's interest while they are playing and exercising those big body muscles.


Take a look at the structure from afar. What does it look like from the colored platforms to the curved support beams? Can you appreciate it like a structure you would in a sculpture garden? Look up close at the details. How is each platform decorated? Take your experience home and draw the helix and how you played. Creative art appreciation and expression are part of everyday experiences, what other creative art will you find in SPARK?

The following is a drawing of The Helix created by a 4-year-old. They started with the shape and added netting, noting the chain around the outside, and then added platforms to the middle. Every child will conceptualize an object and draw it differently. How would your child draw The Helix?

Scripts to Try:

While your child is climbing try the following statements and questions to challenge or encourage them to play and explore. Will you try climbing in The Helix today?

"Wow, you climbed so high today!"

"How many blue platforms will you touch today?" Try another color word: cyan, lime, or aqua.

"How many platforms have you climbed on?" For an older child add: "Is it greater than or less than 10?"

"Do you feel safe?"

"If you got up, you can get down!"

"I wonder how the concave platform is different than the convex platform?"

"What is the perspective like from the top of The Helix? How is it different than the perspective from the ground?"

Do you use these larger vocabulary words with your children? If they don't know what the words mean they will probably ask. Every day is a learning opportunity to grow a child's vocabulary by providing more descriptive words for what they are doing and how they are playing.

Have you climbed to the top of The Helix? Adults are welcome to explore alongside their child!

The Helix is Sponsored By:

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