N is for Night Manoeuvres…
Practising Gross Motor Skills in the Dark!
Gross Motor Skills are vital for children’s development, health and general well being. These are the ‘big’ skills that most children develop between the ages of 3 and 5 years. They include running, climbing, jumping, balancing, catching a ball, stretching and so on. We are very interested in encouraging children to develop these skills and our four year old daughter loves to play outside. Like most children her age she is constantly challenging herself through jumping, balancing and catching or throwing a ball. We have noticed her co-ordination and confidence is growing on a daily basis and we all love playing outside when we can.
But What Do You Do When the Weather Outside is Poor?
Still Playing School is hosting a brilliant series called Active Games for Kids: Fun Gross Motor Ideas from A to Z. The idea is to promote Gross Motor Skills and playing indoors! What a brilliant idea! Some parents may be slightly hesitant in letting children practise their gross motor skills indoors but this series is packed full of safe, fun activities designed to keep those skills developing whilst indoors. We have been following the whole series (and joining in!) and today it is our turn to share our ideas.
The idea behind N is for Night Manoeuvres is to practise gross motor skills in the semi dark or dark. It is important that you have good adult supervision and you clear away any hazards such as ornaments etc. It is also essential to know that this is not a ‘spooky or scary’ activity and we would discourage adults and other peers from making scary noises, jumping out at the child and so on. It takes courage and confidence to move around in the dark and the idea is to help youngsters to develop these skills.
How we set up and what we did.
We set up a simple obstacle course in our conservatory. We used the things that were available to us at the time which were:
Four foam play mats set out to make a line.
A soft circular rug.
A sturdy wooden box.
Our conservatory sofa.
A dark material blindfold.
Once we were ready we explained what we were going to do, how we were going to do it and why. At this point it is a good idea to ‘walk and talk’ through the different things you are going to do. We did this with our eyes open to start with. First we tried balancing and stretching on the mats. We felt the edges of the mats (which had a jigsaw type edge) and noticed how we could feel the edges with our toes and the soles of our feet. We then stretched our legs over to the round rug and noted how soft and textured it was. Here we stretched up high and then down low.
Our daughter twirled around and practised balancing on one foot. The next stage was moving onto the sturdy wooden box. She stretched forward, reaching out with her hands and then climbed up onto the box. Again she balanced on one leg and on her tip toes. The final part was leaping from the box onto the sofa (with squeals of delight!). At all times I was close to hand and helped her observe the ‘obstacle course’.
Next we repeated this but she kept her eyes closed. She walked and crawled along the mats, using her hands and feet to feel the edges. Then she stretched out and noted that her foot was on the rug because it was warm and soft. After a couple of twirls she then felt forward with her hands and climbed on the wooden box. With a little encouragement (and I think a sneeky peek through her closed eyes!) she jumped onto the sofa.
Next she did the course with a head torch and finally did it fully blindfolded. At all times I was close to hand to guide her if she ‘went off course’ and this gave her more confidence to carry on playing! She was so proud of herself and decided that being in the dark was great fun.
We will have to play Night Manoeuvres again soon!
As an added bonus she has also learnt to use her arms, hands and legs to feel her way around the room which is great if we have a power cut with all this awful weather that is forecast for this week!
For more ideas and to read about the rest of the series please click on the image below and find out more Active Games for Kids: Fun Gross Motor Ideas from A to Z!