I is for...Ice Skating. Ice Skating is one of the 26 ABC's of Movements. Here in NW Ohio we have been experiencing an El Nino winter so most bodies of water (ponds) are NOT safe for outdoor ice skating. No worries, there are LOTS of fun, indoor ways for young children to ice skate. The easiest is by ice skating in socks. 

Another option for indoor ice skating is by using paper plates. Not only does this challenge young children's balance skills, it also helps build leg strength and motor planning. Children must have the leg strength to press their feet into their paper plates when moving forward. Motor planning is the ability to figure out a new motor task. Ice skating without stepping out of the plates takes lots of motor planning.

How about ice skating with paper plates? All you need is a roll of wax paper and large rubber bands. Attach a sheet of wax paper around the bottom and up the sides of children's shoes and secure with a large rubber band. As children's ice skating skills improve, they can twirl, turn, and zig zag while skating.

The most sensory rich option is by using shaving cream (or foam soap). While this is the messiest ice skating choice, it is also the most fun. Materials needed include a thick therapy mat, shaving cream (or foam soap), towels, and/or warm water for clean-up. You could also use a big sheet of plastic on a carpeted surface for your inside ice rink. Encourage children to remove their shoes, socks, and roll up their pant legs. Squirt a bit of shaving cream on the mat and caution children about this very slippery surface. Listen to the giggles and squeals as the foam squishes between their toes. Don't be surprised if an occasional child does not enjoy this sensory experience.

Please use extreme caution and close proximity to children as they ice skate. Special care should be taken if children have never performed this new motor task before or if they have known balance difficulties. They may lose their balance when moving form one surface to another. Make every attempt to limit falling to soft surfaces. Have FUN!

8/29/16 Active Learning Groups- FUN with Beach Balls

Beach balls are relatively inexpensive and a great tool you can use in a large group setting. Beach balls move slowly, which makes it easier for preschool age children's eyes, hands, and feet to keep up. Also, if you slightly deflate the beach ball, it makes is much easier to catch. Transform any beach ball into a gross motor game by writing movements on the ball with a permanent marker. Get into a big circle and toss the beach ball back and forth to each child in the group. Before doing the movements, you can toss the beach ball to each child and have them state their name and ask them to toss it back to you. After each child has taken a turn catching and throwing, repeat tossing and add the movement activity. Movement suggestions for toddlers and young preschoolers include clap your hands, jump in place, jump forward, arm circles, trunk twists, heel lifts, march, and run in place. Movement suggestions for older preschoolers include gallop, skip, hop on one foot, balance on one foot, sky write their names, and march/clap. Or, you could write the ABC's of Movement activities on a beach ball. No matter what, children will have fun with this activity while they are improving their eye/hand coordination, turn taking skills, and their gross motor skills. ENJOY!

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