As I watched the World Cup a few months ago, I was amazed by the skill of those soccer players. Their body awareness is out of this world! Think about how fast they react and move toward the ball, simultaneously attacking it with their bodies to get it to the next field position or into the goal.
Simple gross motor activities like this one can get even the very youngest sports stars in tune with the way their bodies move, while also targeting a whole slew of other developmental skills.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: A few blown-up balloons, something to use as a goal (can be a laundry basket or a bucket or a box….)
WHAT TO DO:
-First encourage your child to play “keep it up” with the balloon.
How many taps can they get before it touches the ground? What body part do they choose to use to keep that balloon up in the air?
Younger kiddos typically use their hands. Older kids might show off a bit and use whatever body part gets to the balloon first; however, they often demonstrate less control!
-Next, have your child try to hit the balloon “X” number of times in a row with a certain body part. For instance, call out “Head!” and see if they can get their bodies under the balloon each time to bump it back into the air 5 times. Start simply with the hands, and work up to harder body parts like elbows and knees.
-Now, try combining body parts to give the child a sequence of commands. You might say, “Kyle, tap the ball with your right hand, left foot, and then use your head to get the ball in the goal.”
This activity seems so simple, right? But each one of the variations above addresses developmental skills like:
Balance and Body Awareness (what body part are you supposed to use to hit the balloon, can you do it without losing your balance as you lunge for the balloon?)
Proprioception (get your body in a position to hit the balloon with your head, arm, leg, etc.)
Strength and endurance (how many times can you do it in a row?)
Motor Planning (sequencing movements: use your hand, then your foot, then your head)
Not to mention the cognitive and social benefits….WHEW!! All these skills in one simple soccer game!
HOW TO CHANGE IT UP:
-Make this a competition between friends. See who can keep the ball up the longest! Or, if there are no friends to play with, play against the clock. Use a stopwatch to see how long your kiddo can keep that balloon up in the air.
-Do a relay race. Explain that each child will use one body part to get a balloon to the goal. The first child must use their right hand, the next their head and so on. A perfect game for a sports themed party!
-Try it with an actual soccer ball if your child is a bit older! Notice how their control improves each time they practice!
SKILL AREAS ADDRESSED: Proprioception, endurance, motor control, strength, balance, gross motor skills, cognitive skills, social skills