The children had a blast playing in the snow last week. We brought buckets and shovels, and we even found a frisbee! There were a lot of smiling rosy faces that afternoon!
It is important to support children's gross motor development, especially in their early years. Putting together an obstacle course that is non-competitive and focuses on having fun is a great way for children to have a wide range of gross motor experiences. Some of the skills children need for ideal gross motor development include balancing, jumping, crawling, climbing, reaching, bouncing, rolling, running, catching, and throwing.
In the first part of the course, the children were practicing both jumping and balancing. They pretended that the floor was lava and did their best not to fall in!
Then they used a hopping ball to get to the other side of the room. These balls help children establish coordination and balance while improving their muscular strength.
Next, the children had to crawl through a tube while pushing a weighted medicine ball in front of them. Medicine balls provide "heavy work" needed for integrating sensory information, engaging the body with the brain, and building coordination.
Once they reached the other side of the tube, they stood up and lifted a lighter medicine ball over their head three times!
Save the best for last! The children ended the course by rolling themselves in the tube from one end of the room to the other, which they came up with all by themselves! The room was echoing with laughter and they proceeded to go back and forth several times.
Normally the balls in the indoor play space are used for bouncing and kicking, but during yoga they serve a different purpose.
Children doing a backbend over a ball. This exercise focuses on working the lower body and also releases any tensions in the back that may have built up.
Children doing side stretches. This exercise increases flexibility in the spine and stimulates the breathing muscles.
Children passing the ball with their feet. This exercise strengthens the core muscles, including the abdominal muscles, back muscles, and the muscles around the pelvis.
After reading the children's book "Caps for Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina, I began thinking about ways to incorporate the book into our yoga classes. In the story, a salesman walks around his town selling caps, which he balances on the top of his head and mischievous monkeys come along and steal the caps. The story is intended to teach children about problem solving, but I thought it could also help them learn about balance and concentration. I encouraged the children to think about how hard it must have been for the salesman to balance all of those caps on his head!
I began reading "Caps for Sale," and this time we focused on the salesman and his impressive skills. Halfway through the story, I asked the children to stand up and practice walking, while keeping their bodies extremely straight and balanced, just like the salesman.
After finishing the story, I gave each child one bean bag and asked them to walk while balancing the bag on the tops of their heads. Then we added another! Then another! They were able to balance three bean bags while walking from one side of the mat to the other. Talk about balance and focus!
One afternoon, we playing a game about kindness that included the use of a ball and yarn. The idea was to begin a conversation about kindness and discuss what it meant to each child. I then introduced the word "compliment" and explained its meaning to the group. During the game, each child gave another child a compliment and then threw the ball of yarn to them, while the next child did the same. We tried to have them focus on personality traits and behaviors, not physical attributes. In the picture below, you will see the end product of our "compliment web!"
We discovered that Trio Park is perfect for tee-ball! The three trees at the park are in the shape of a diamond, which we use for our bases. As we introduced the game to the children, we told them that safety is our number one priority. We first asked them to make a line behind our handy-dandy stop sign, which we use while crossing the street. This way the child up to bat has plenty of room to hit the ball without anyone else getting hurt. Next, we asked the batter to make sure the field was clear of other children (and dogs and their owners!) before hitting the ball.
Running the bases!
The children made a rule that every time a train passes, we have to pause the game and watch it go by. The trains are a big hit at the park!
So are the garbage trucks!
We have been enjoying the sunny weather at Trio Park. Each day, we fill up the wagon with fun toys and materials to haul to the park; however, the wagon itself seems to be the biggest hit! The students love taking turns pulling each other around the circle. They have also been making beautiful drawings on the pavement with chalk, playing soccer, and even putting on dance performances!
One day we decided to bring the parachute to the park. Some of the girls pretended it was a tent and
went camping. They talked about how they were going to set up their campsite. One student decided she would utilize the plastic cones and attach the edges to make the tent higher.
The girls pretending to be butterflies!
During one of our yoga classes, I introduced eye bags to the students before they went into corpse pose or savasana, which is our final relaxation pose. The bags are filled with beads, which help conform to the contours of the face, and they help block out the distracting effects of light. We talked about how the bags were going to help them relax and meditate. During the pose, I played relaxing music in the background. After about five minutes, I asked the students to slowly open their eyes and sit up. We then talked about how they felt and the importance of relaxing our bodies and our minds.
Last Friday, the school was having some issues with the water pipes, so we all packed up and walked over to Fulton River Park. We had a great time playing on the equipment!