Children must learn to stand before they can walk, and walk before they can run!
Balance is the ability to hold your body upright and steady without falling down. This could be sitting, standing, walking or running. Balance is an essential part of child development and children must learn to balance before they can progress to higher level gross motor skills such as cycling, hopping, galloping or skipping.
Playing balancing games can be engaging for children as well as providing the foundations of a healthy and active lifestyle.
Here are some engaging games to improve balance…
Balancing on one leg whilst stood on a throw down spot. This will give children a clear marker to stand on and stay within whilst developing the basics of balance.
-Make it hard: balancing on one leg whilst also balancing a beanbag on head.
-Make it harder: balancing on one leg whilst playing catch with a beanbag.
-Make it easier: balancing on one leg whilst the other leg is on a chair or ball.
-Games; Use a stopwatch to record times and encourage children to improve them to achieve a new personal best.
What will you need? Throw down spots, beanbags, stopwatch.
Play in pairs or teams of 3 and alternate thrower and catcher roles.
Use 4 coloured throw down spots to balance on hands and feet. The spots can be moved in different shapes to make the challenge more difficult.
-Make it hard: move spots further apart and in different patterns.
-Make it harder: use 2 spots to balance 2 hands and 2 feet on one spot.
-Make it easier: Use 4 spots to balance on hands and knees.
-Games; Use a stopwatch to record times of how long children can hold their balance and encourage them to improve them to new personal bests. Involve more children and create group games to increase the challenge.
What will you need? Throw down spots, cones, stopwatch.
Play individually to begin and involve more children to increase the challenge.
In pairs, children must balance rubber quoits on their head whilst throwing and catching a beanbag between each other. This will develop balance whilst improving hand-eye coordination.
-Make it hard: stand on a throw down spot which the child cannot move from.
-Make it harder: stand on one leg whilst balancing a rubber quoit and catching.
-Make it easier: replace catching a bean bag with catching a large low velocity ball.
-Games; The team who stay on the spot or on one leg the longest wins a point/wins the game.
What will you need? Spots, rubber quoits, stopwatch, bean bag, large ball
Play in pairs or create larger group game, measure and record times using a stopwatch and whiteboards.
Using a skipping rope laid on the floor in a straight line, children must walk from one end to the other whilst keeping their balance. This will begin to develop dynamic balance.
-Make it hard: make skipping rope in squiggly/curvy line
-Make it harder: walk along skipping rope whilst balancing beanbag or rubber quoits on head.
-Make it easier: use 2 skipping ropes to make a wide gap. Children have to walk in the gap and stay within the lines. Make the gap smaller to make it more difficult.
-Games; Using cones as markers, mark the distance of each student after they have completed their go. Record distances on a white board and encourage children to improve their personal bests.
What will you need? Skipping rope, beanbag, rubber quoits, stopwatch, cones, whiteboard.
Play individually or set up team relay races, measuring which team completes the longest distance.
By working on balance, children will learn to use their muscles in order to adjust to changes in movement. This will set them up for success in playing games and sports with their peers.
As always, ensuring children are safe during these activities is very important. It is important to use the appropriate matting and safety procedures when carrying out the above activities.
The possibilities are endless! Get creative and make these activities easier or harder depending on progression – and if you have an idea about any great games, please let us know. Measure and encourage development through the use of team games, personal bests and races, measuring times and distances with a stopwatch and whiteboard.