Rollin’ in the New Year Roller Board Style

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The roller board, aka scooter board, is a super-duper piece of equipment to acquire. Inclement weather—pouring rain, snow flurries or freezing temperatures—can keep us inside. Pull out the roller board and add it to your environment for indoor play. Here are 10 rockin’ and rollin’ ideas and activities appropriate for three to five year olds. First, though, some safety considerations and benefits:

Safety Recommendations:

  • Only sit or lay on the roller board
  • Never let a child stand on a roller board
  • Keep hands clear from the bottom of the roller board
  • Use handles to carry the roller board
  • Tie back long hair and tuck in loose clothing
  • Check wheels regularly
  • Prevent roller boards from crashing into others

Benefits:

  • Upper body strengthening (arms, legs and hands)
  • Core strengthening
  • Motor planning
  • Balance
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Physical endurance
  • Tactile stimulation
  • Kinesthetic stimulation
  • Vestibular stimulation
  • Crossing midline skills
  • Eye-hand coordination

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And now for the activities!

Movement Exploration Experiences

Have children explore different ways to move around the space using the roller board.

  • One hand on roller board
  •  Two hands on roller board
  • Two hands and one knee on roller board
  • Kneel on roller board
  • Sit on roller board, move backwards
  • Sit on roller board, move forward
  • Lie on stomach (prone position), move forward
  • Lie on stomach, move backwards

Hoop Ball Shooting

  • Place Hoop Ball Goal in open space
  • Child sits on roller board holding a ball
  • Child moves forward using feet to the Hoop Ball Goal and attempts to shoot the ball into the hoop
  • As the child becomes more proficient, challenge him/her to move farther way from the hoop (no more than six to eight feet)

Rope Pull

    • Adult holds one end of a long jump rope
    • Rope goes under roller board and between wheels
    • Child takes prone position (lying on stomach) on roller board and grips rope at opposite end from the adult
    • Child pulls self toward adult using a hand-over-hand grip on the rope. Feet do not touch the floor

Puzzle Piece Play

  • Scatter puzzle pieces at one end of the room or space
  • Place the corresponding puzzle boards at the other end
  •  Child sits on roller board
  • child moves around space using feet, finds and grasps a puzzle piece
  • Child travels with puzzle piece to find the matching puzzle board and puts the piece into its place
  • Game continues until all the puzzles have their matching pieces

Roller Board & Cone Obstacle

  • Set up three cones in a line about 3-4 feet from each other
  • Child takes prone position on roller board and uses hands and arms to propel roller board around cones and back to starting position. Body is balanced on roller board, feet do not touch floor, and hands and arms work in rhythmic coordination.
  • Child can try the same challenge sitting on knees on the roller board.

Free Ride

  • Child sits cross-legged on roller board
  • Child holds a hoop and adult pulls the child around
  • Speed of travel depends on the child’s stability on the roller board and his or her enjoyment of speed

Fly Like an Eagle

  • Need large, clear space to play
  • Child takes prone position on roller board
  • Tell child he/she is going to “fly like an eagle” across the room or down a long hallway
  • Adult holds on to child’s feet and gives child a big push
  • Child will have to work hard to keep head, arms (held out like wings), and legs lifted while moving forward

Body Bowling

  • Set up bowling pins at one end of the room
  • Just like in the “Fly Like and Eagle” activity above, child takes prone position on the roller board
  • Child keeps arms out in front (i.e. a superman “flying” position)
  • Adult holds onto child’s feet and gives child a big push forward
  • Child attempts to knock down the bowling pins

Grocery Shopping

  • Scatter plastic fruits and vegetables around the room
  • On the opposite end of the room, place rainbow colored baskets
  • Child sits on roller board
  • Child moves around space using feet and picks up a fruit or vegetable
  • Child travels with the piece of play food and puts it into the matching colored basket
  • Game continues until all of the fruits and vegetables have been “bought.”

Crazy Driver

  • Mark of a path or road using Mavalus Removable Poster Tape. Create a single line of tape or two lines to form a “lane” for the child to stay in. Make curves, zigzags, twists or turns.
  • Challenge child to “drive” along the road either in prone position, sitting on knees, or sitting on bottom

Product Recommendations

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Cool Bean Bags!

Once you put one of these super sensory bean bags in your hands, you’ll quickly discover why they are nicknamed COOLBEAN. Each bean bag is covered with soft chenille fabric nubs, making them irresistible to the touch. Grasp them, squeeze them, and listen to the crinkling sound they make. They come in 4 bright colors and are the perfect size and weight for tossing and catching. COOLBEAN definitely engages the senses—vision, hearing, touch and kinesthesia (sense of body’s movements). What also makes Excellerations® Super Sensory Beanbags “really cool” is that they are for children ages 18 months and up and are even washable!

Benefits of Using Bean Bags:

  • Younger children may find bean bags easier to handle than a ball. A bean bag is usually smaller and softer than a ball; consequently a child has less fear of being hit or hurt.
  • Because bean bags can’t roll away, they may be less frustrating for the child with poor coordination skills.
  • Catching and throwing a bean bag helps a child develop the skill of grasp and release.
  • A bean bag will help a child develop the hand strength required for handling a ball.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:

  1. Gross motor skills: using the large muscles of the arms, legs and trunk
  2. Fine motor skills: using the small muscles of the of the body (eyes, hands, fingers) to perform specific movements such as throwing and catching
  3. Hand-eye coordination: hands and eyes working together smoothly to meet a challenge
  4. Balance: being able to hold the position of the body through the interaction of muscles working together
  5. Laterality: understanding of the differences between right and left and being able to control the two sides of the body independently and together
  6. Kinesthetic awareness: inner messages from the muscles, tendons, and joints received by the body in order to move
  7. Listening skills: ability to follow verbal directions

Here are some fun and challenging bean bag activities for young children. In next month’s post, I’ll share several games that you can play using bean bags.

Bean Bag Toss

Child tosses bean bag upward into the air and catches it before it hits the floor. Child first catches it with two hands. Child then attempts to catch the bean bag with one hand and then the other hand. The height of the toss should increase as the child’s skill improves.

Child tosses the bean bag back and forth across the body from one hand to the other. The height of the toss and the distance between hands should increase as the child’s skill improves.

Child tosses the bean bag into the air, turns around and then catches it. Challenge child to clap hands once, and catch it. Ask child to clap hands twice, then catch it.

Bean Bag Throw

Place a hoop on the floor, lean it against a wall or hang it up. Have child step back and throw a bean bag into the hoop. With each successful throw encourage the child to take another step back to make it more challenging.

Attach a target to a wall. I like to use one of the Excellerations® Pair-a-Chute. Keeping his “eye on the target,” the child throws bean bags at the different colors on the parachute.

Bean Bag Catch

Find a partner and play catch with the bean bag. Remind the child to use only his hands to catch and to keep his eyes on the bean bag. Play catch with your partner throwing underhand. Play catch with your partner throwing overhand. This time, stand close to your partner and play catch. If you catch the bean bag without dropping it, take a step back. If you drop it, take a step up. See how far apart you can get playing catch with your partner.

Using both hands, one child holds a bucket or basket. Let the other child toss bean bags to the child holding the bucket, who attempts to catch each one in the bucket.

Bean Bag Balance

Have child place bean bag on a body part—head, arm, shoulder, elbow and walk in the open space or on a designated line marked out on the floor.

Try a crab walk with the bean bag on the tummy or a creep like a cat with a bean bag on the back.

Bean Bag Jump

Have child place bean bag on the floor. Ask the child to jump forward over the bean bag. Ask them to jump backward, then sideways. You can repeat this series several times.

Have child place bean bag between their knees and jump forward like a kangaroo.

Product Recommendations:

Excellerations® Super Sensory Beanbags (COOLBEAN)

Brawny Tough Activity Hoops (HOOPSET)

Excellerations® Pair-a-Chute (PAIRUP)

Classroom Activity Baskets (CATCHY)

Sand and Water Buckets (LBUCKRED)

The Hokey Pokey Bone Dance!

skeleton dancing  It’s that time of year to learn “All About Me and My Body” and that includes the bones in our body! Halloween is a great time to introduce bone anatomy to children. Wherever you look, there are ghosts, vampires or boney skeletons trick or treating. We all have a skeleton made up of many bones. These bones give our body structure, let us move in many ways, protect our internal organs, and more. A fun way to learn about our bones is to sing and move to the traditional song, “The Hokey Pokey,” but instead of putting the body part “in” and “out” substitute the body part with the bone name. Of course, with my early learners, I can use the generic words; for example, I could use “finger bones” or “toe bones” instead of phalanges…but, hey, if the kids are interested in learning the “big” words…go for it! A great educational tool and visual aid to use is the Foam Skeleton Floor Puzzle. Not only will the children learn about bone anatomy but it will also de-sensitize them to the scary figures at Halloween, teaching them what a skeleton really is. First sing the song including 2-3 bones and then each day add another bone. You can make it fun and easy by starting with the head and going all the way down to the phalanges of the toe bones. Always make sure to end the song with, “You put your skeleton in, you put your skeleton out; You put your skeleton in, and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey Bone Dance, and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.
skeleton map

General List of Bones of the Human Skeleton:

cranium = skull

phalanges = finger and toe bones

sternum and/or ribs = chest

humerus = long bone in arm that runs from shoulder to elbow

ulna and/or radius = large bones of the forearm

pelvic = hip bone

femur = thighbone

patella = knee bone

tibia and/or fibula = leg bones

spine = backbone

skeleton = whole body

The Hokey Pokey Bone Dance

You put your cranium in,

You put your cranium out,

You put your cranium in,

And you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey Bone Dance,

And you turn yourself around.

That’s what it’s all about!

You put your phalanges in,

You put your phalanges out,

You put your phalanges in,

And you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey Bone Dance,

And you turn yourself around.

That’s what it’s all about!

You put your sternum in,

You put your sternum out,

You put your sternum in,

And you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey Bone Dance,

And you turn yourself around.

That’s what it’s all about!

You put your pelvic bone in,

You put your pelvic bone out,

You put your pelvic bone in,

And you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey Bone Dance,

And you turn yourself around.

That’s what it’s all about!

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Foam Skeleton Floor Puzzle (LIFESIZE)

Human X-Rays (SKELETON)
Our Bodies Paperback Books (OBBKS)

Books that Move You!

Sometimes it just takes a book to start the action. I’ve compiled a list of favorite children’s picture books that will encourage kids to get up off their seat, onto their feet…and get moving!

Animal Action ABC by Karen Pandell

In this extraordinary board book, children learn action words and get the wiggles out by imitating animals.  From Arch to Balance, 26 action words, each headed by a different letter of the alphabet, are introduced, each accompanied by a pleasant verse that links the word to an animal.  Dramatic photos of wildlife in action and delightful spot photos of young children imitating the animals’ movements punctuate the action.

Bal Yoga for Kids by Glenda Kacev & Sylvia Roth

This book is a child and teacher friendly program which is both a fun and easy method teaching kids yoga postures from A – Z with a sing along & narrated CD and DVD demonstration. A song accompanies each letter and pose with whimsical illustrations and photographs that stretch the body and imagination.

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

“Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a BARNYARD DANCE!” An assortment of irrepressible farm animals join in a rollicking square dance.  As an education tool, children will learn to recognize farm animals, and associate simple verbs to the action, such as bow, bounce, swing, and leap.  And most importantly get up and dance!

The Busy Body Book: A Kid’s Guide to Fitness by Lizzy Rockwell

Learn how your bones and muscles, heart and lungs, nerves and brain all work together to keep you on the go. Kids walk and skate and tumble through these pages with such exuberance that even sprouting couch potatoes will want to get up and bounce around—and that’s the ultimate goal. Studies show that American kids are becoming more sedentary and more overweight and that they carry these tendencies with them into adolescence and adulthood. Experts agree that we need to help kids make physical activity a life-long habit. Through education, information, and encouragement, this book aims to inspire a new generation of busy bodies!

Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas

This exuberant, interactive picture book starring a bossy little ladybug and a GIANT hungry frog will have kids leaping up and down and out of their seats, doing the chicken dance, and make silly scary faces of their own.

Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley

Full of reasons to get up and dance.  Little ones will jump at the chance

to join this menagerie of zany animals and children as they stomp, wiggle, roar, and spin their way through the day, as the rhyming text reinforces important concepts.

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

From their heads down to their toes, kids will be wriggling, jiggling, and giggling as they try to keep up with these animals!  Alligators wiggle, elephants stomp, gorillas thump, and giraffes bend. “Can you do it? I can do it!” is the confidence-building message of this fun-filled interactive picture book.

Move! by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

A playful introduction to motion in the animal kingdom that invites young readers to guess some of the unusual ways that animals get around. Follow them as they swing, dance, float, leap, and slide from page to page, then learn why these animals move the way they do.This book is wonderful for learning about how your body can move and how each animal can move.

The Squiggle by Carole Lexa Schaefer

When a group of young children set off with their teacher on an orderly walk through the park, the very last little girl spies a “squiggle” (a piece of string) on the ground and picks it up. As she twirls, twists, and turns the long red ribbon, she imagines it to be a dragon, a thundercloud, a “full fat moon,” and much more. She hastily rejoins the group and, much to their delight, demonstrates her treasure’s potential. Then the youngsters continue the walk, not as a “bunched-up, slow, tight, straight line,” but in exuberant squiggle-style, instead.  Give each child a streamer ribbon or streamer scarf and let them create their own “squiggles” as your read the book again and again.

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Get Up and Go! by Nancy Carlson

We all come in different shapes and sizes, and it doesn’t matter if you are tall, short, skinny, or round. Your body is your own, and you need to take care of it. This book is the perfect catalyst to get readers moving. Vibrant, fun-filled illustrations and an encouraging text explain the many great reasons to exercise, from making new friends to going new places, or just because it’s good for your body.

Little Yoga by Rebecca Whitford

Here is a playful introduction to nine simple yoga exercises for toddlers.  A fun book even for those that know nothing about yoga as it relates the poses to well known animals.  For example, “standing forward bend” is renamed “monkey” because the pose resembles a monkey bending over. The back of the book has photos of actual children doing the poses as well as tips and an explanation for teaching the poses correctly.

My Aunt Came Back Adapted by John M. Feierabend

Sung as an echo song (to the classic tune of “How Dry I Am”), and accompanied by hand and body movements, children will laugh out loud at the antics of the Aunt, who in each verse travels to another strange place and brings back some unusual things.

Tony Chestnut by Laurie Monopoli

The much-loved children’s song, Tony Chestnut , comes to life in an interactive children’s picture book with accompanying CD. “The Book About Tony Chestnut” invites children to actively join-in, participate and connect with the storybook’s characters (Eileen, Neil, Pat, Bob, Russell and Skip).  Tony Chestnut uses the sounds of his name (Toe, Knee, Chest, Nut) to sing this really cool song. As he starts singing he points to the corresponding body parts. “Toe Knee Chest Nut Nose Eye Love You Toe Knee Nose.” The song starts out slowly, in order to get the kids used to pointing to the body parts, and then quickly picks up speed. It’s fun trying to keep up!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt retold by Michael Rosen

If you’ve ever heard the song “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt” then you know the way the story goes.  It encourages movement and active involvement.  Stand up and act out the story and use hand and body motions as you read…to cross the tall wavy grass (swishy swashy), ford the deep cold river (splash splosh), tromp through the ooey-gooey mud (squelch squelch), wander through the deep dark forest (stumble trip!), run through a whirling snowstorm (Hoooo woooo), and at last enter a deep dark cave (tiptoe). “What’s that? It’s a bear!” And now it’s time to run back over every place you’d been before to escape.

We’re Going on a Lion Hunt by David Axtell

In this beautifully illustrated rendition of a well-known children’s chant, two sisters are looking not for a bear but for a lion–a lion that lives on the African savanna, where the girls go through swishy-swashy long grass, a splishy-splashy lake, and a Big Dark Cave. When they finally meet their lion, they have to run, run, run through it all again to get back home. Like Michael Rosen’s “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” this picture book will encourage preschoolers to participate and move.

You Are A Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo

With simple instructions, this wonderfully illustrated book introduces kids to yoga in a fun and interactive way. Each pose is introduced like an animal and kids can then do the movement as well as make the animal sounds— flutter like a butterfly, hiss like a snake, roar like a lion and more.

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:

“Bal Yoga for Kids” Book, CD and DVD (AP9555J)
“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” Book (BEARHUNT)
Rainbow Dancing Wrist Bands – Set of 6 (RNBW)
Streamer Scarves – Set of 12 (SWISH)

Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice

I am passionate about putting into teacher’s and children’s hands materials that promote physical activity and learning.  Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice does just that and is a quality product from Discount School Supply®.

The Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice set includes:

  • 2 dice with pockets on all sides
  • 20 different movement activity cards
  • 12 numeral cards (2 each of the numbers 1-6)
  • 12 dice dot cards (2 each of the dots numbering 1-6)
  • 12 blank cards

The two large seven-inch vinyl-covered foam dice have pockets on all six sides that hold activity and number cards.  Insert six different activity cards in each of the pockets on one die.  On the other die put the numeral cards, either showing the dots or the numeral.  Depending on the developmental skills level of the children, I use the numeral cards for numbers 1, 2, and 3 and the dot cards for numbers 4, 5, and 6.  Young children may not recognize the larger numerals, but they are usually able to count the dots or “pips.”  Did you know that the dots on dice are called “pips?”  The word “pip” commonly means a “spot” or a “speck,” and perhaps that’s why the dots on dice, as well as dominoes, are called pips.  Don’t shy away from the big word, i.e., “pips” for “dots.”  It is very common for adults to simplify their language when talking to young children.  Throwing in a new word now and then is a great opportunity to build vocabulary! If you’re going to explain what something is, you might as well use the proper word the first time. Children may not always pick up on those big words, but they certainly won’t if they don’t ever hear them.  So go ahead, use words like “identical” instead of “same” and “pips” instead of “dots.” You’ll be surprised at what the children will pick up on when you give them the chance!

kids stretching

Here is a fun favorite activity that I like to play indoors or outside.  You’ll find more ideas in the Activity Guide that comes with it.

Roll the Dice for Exercise

How to play:

  1. Sit children in a large circle.
  2. One child is chosen to roll the dice.
  3. Child with dice stands up and rolls the dice into the middle of the circle.
  4. The child identifies the activity to be performed and the number of times to perform the activity by counting the pips or stating the number shown on the die.
  5. All children in the circle stand up and perform the activity that is lead by the child who rolled the dice.  All the children are to count as they perform the movement.
  6. When finished, the child who had rolled the dice gives it to another child who continues the game by rolling the dice and leading the group in the movement activity that is shown on the movement die and counting the number of times they are to do the activity (as shown on the number die).
  7. The game ends when every child has had a chance to “Roll the Dice for Exercise.”

Suggestions & Variations:

  • If the child who rolled the die has difficulty counting, let the group count the dots or pips out loud on the number die, as the child points to them.
  • Take pictures of the children doing a favorite movement activity (i.e., jumping jacks, jogging in place, etc.) and adhere it to a blank card.  This personalizes it to the group of children in your classroom.
  • This activity is also a great one to use when children are in transition –i.e., waiting for the bus or their group’s turn, etc.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:

  1. Physical activity: any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure
  2. Gross motor skills: using the large muscles of the arms, legs and trunk
  3. Cooperative play: games and activities that the participants play together rather than against one another
  4. Listening skills: ability to follow verbal directions
  5. Language development: speaking, communicating
  6. Mathematics: number sense of quantity and counting; one-to-one correspondence
  7. Social emotional development: taking turns; promotes children’s self-esteem and confidence

Get active, get moving, get healthy…and start rolling the Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice.  Everyone will be a winner!

A Whale of a Role Model!

I feel very fortunate to live near the ocean in Santa Cruz, CA.  It continually inspires me to venture outside and enjoy all that it affords.  It is a place of beauty, incredible wonders, and home to the greatest diversity of life on earth.  This week, humpback whales can be spotted not far from the beach.  They are joining herds of sea lions and flocks of birds to dine on the abundant anchovies that are present in the bay.  In the photo below taken by Chris Elmenhurst, you can see a mother humpback teaching her baby calf how to feed on the tiny green fish. The whale mother and her baby will share the strongest of bonds for one year with the mother preparing and strengthening her newborn for the long migration up the coast.  It’s common to see a baby trying to perform a good breach over and over and then have mom come up unexpectedly to show junior how it should be done.

Photo by Chris Edinger at Surf the Spot - click photo to view more photos.

Photo by Chris Elmhurst at Surf the Spot – click photo to view more photos.

While I was watching the humpbacks, I also spotted a mother and son exercising together on the beach.  I couldn’t help but notice the correlation between the mother whale with her calf and the mother and son lifting weights.  Just as the mother whale role models for her baby, so does a physically active parent role model for her child.

sharron whale 2

Parents who encourage and endorse physical activities in their own lives are more likely to pass on these good habits to their children.  Research shows that children who exercise do better in school, control themselves better, and have fewer behavior issues. More good news is that children who lead active lifestyles are likely to remain active as adults and pass on their healthy lifestyle habits to their own children.

Consider the following benefits of regular physical activity for growing children:

  • Promotes healthy growth and development
  • Builds strong bones and muscles
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Increases flexibility
  • Improves balance, coordination and strength
  • Assists with the development of gross motor and fine motor skills
  • Provides the opportunity to develop fundamental movement skills
  • Helps to establish connections between different parts of the brain
  • Improves concentration and thinking skills
  • Provides opportunities to develop social skills and make friends
  • Reduces feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety
  • Improves sleep
  • Promotes psychological well-being, including higher levels of self-esteem and self-
  • concept

Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, be a role model. Show children physical activity is important by enthusiastically participating in it!

The Mirror Game!

sharron mirror game 1

Why It’s a Great Game!

Objectives & Learning Outcomes

Social Emotional Development:

  • Learning to cooperate
  • Accepting others’ ideas
  • Taking turns

Cognitive Development:

  • Replicating physically what the eyes see (developing visual sensitivity to change)
  • Developing focus, attention, and concentration
  • Learning about the concept of mirror reflection

Physical Development:

  • Practicing a variety of nonlocomotor movements
  • Developing spatial awareness (an awareness of space, relative distance, and relationships with space–experiencing personal space)

sharron mirror game 2

How to Play

Set Up and Materials

  • Available indoor or outdoor space
  • Children paired up and scattered in the space
  • Music
  • If desired, demonstrate the concept of reflection using a mirror

sharron mirror game 3

Directions

  1. Partners face each other at arm’s distance apart.
  2. Ask one child to be the “leader” and perform simple movements in place and his partner (the second child) to imitate the leader as a mirror reflection.  For example, if the leader  waves his right arm, the “mirror” waves his left arm in the same way, duplicating the movement as if he is looking into a mirror.
  3. Start the music–fast or slow.  The use of slow background music might help keep the partners moving slowly at first.
  4. Go from simple (only one body part moving) to complex (more than one body part moving at the same time).
  5. When the music stops, partners change roles, with the leader becoming the mirror and the mirror becoming the leader.

Suggestions & Variations

  • Children will mirror better if they watch each other’s eyes rather than extremities.
  • Ask the leader to move slowly enough so the mirror can follow.
  • Have the players do the activity while sitting.
  • Combine the activity with streamers or scarves.

sharron mirror game 4

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Rainbow Dancing Wrist Bands (RNBW)
Juggling Scarves (JUGGLE)
Daily Fitness 4 CD Set (MOVEMENT)
Circle Time Fun Set – 3 CDs (CTIMEFUN)
Hamilton™ AM/FM CD Player (BOOMBOX)
Look At Me Mirror Kit (LOOKATME)