Alligator in the Swamp

Toddlers to preschoolers will enjoy letting their imaginations “run wild” as they take a trip over a bridge (carrying a baby doll, animal or other object) crossing a swamp where a hungry alligator lives. Children are to walk the beam and put the object they are holding into a basket at the other end of the beam. When crossing the “swamp” children chant, “I’m walking, I’m walking, I’m walking across the swamp. I hope that alligator doesn’t go chomp.” Explain that the alligator who lives in the swamp will not bother the children as long as they stay on the beam and don’t drop anything that they are carrying. If they do drop something or step off the beam, the alligator (you) will chase them until they deposit everything they are carrying in the basket. This is play with a purpose — promoting physical, cognitive and social emotional development. What fun…and learning!

Materials and Set Up:
1. Low Balance Beam (248) – a bridge over a swamp (floor) where a hungry alligator lives.
2. Variety of safe objects to carry—soft babies, plastic animals, beanbags, blocks, etc.
3. Basket or bucket placed at far end of balance beam.
4. Adult to role play alligator moving around in open space (swamp).

Lets Get Started:
1. Give child one object.
2. Ask child to walk (heel-toe) across the balance beam slowly carrying the soft object, chanting, “I’m walking, I’m walking, I’m walking across the swamp. I hope that alligator doesn’t go chomp.”
3. When child reaches end of the beam they are to toss or drop the object into the basket.
4. Explain to children that they should not step off the beam or drop anything into the swamp (floor) because the hungry alligator (adult with extended arms moving up and down like alligator’s jaws) will chase them until they put what they are carrying into the basket.

Furthermore:
1. Give children more things to carry each time they attempt to walk across the alligator swamp.
2. Ask children to carry beanbags balanced on their heads and shoulders.
3. Have children move across the balance beam using other modes of travel. Continue by interjecting other movements such as: “I’m swimming, I’m swimming, I’m swimming across the swamp. I hope that alligator doesn’t go chomp.” Can also do tip toeing, jumping etc.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:
1. Gross motor coordination—using the trunk and large muscles and limbs of the body—to walk with legs and hold and toss items with arms and hands. Gross motor movement is the predecessor to fine motor skills that are required for formal school work.
2. Dynamic Balance—being able to hold the position of the body when the body is moving—walking across the balance beam. Self-control is important for learning.
3. Eye hand coordination—eyes and hands working together to toss the beanbag into the basket. Eyes and hands need to work together in order to write.
4. Imagery—formation of mental images by memory, imagination or fancy—pretending to cross a bridge over a swamp inhabited by an alligator. Imagination is the precursor to intellectual development.
5. Self-confidence—faith in oneself and one’s own abilities—children can cross balance beam and deliver the object without dropping it.

Product Recommendations:
Balance Beam (248)
Step-A-Logs (STEPLOG)
Beanbags (MEGABEAN and CBB)
Plastic Animals (BABYFARM and BABYZOO)
Multicultural Velour Soft Babies (ALL4BY)
Soft Velour Blocks (VLRBLK)
Willow Baskets (WILLOW)

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