When Janet from Bear Paw Creek offered to send us a few of her handmade movement props to try, we were so excited! As therapists, we are constantly on the lookout for awesome products that inspire kids to move.
When the package arrived, we were beyond thrilled to find some Connect-a-Bands inside! These latex bands covered in bright, rainbow colored cloth are awesome for gross motor activities and can facilitate so many child development skills including proprioception, strength, motor planning, balance, and midline crossing.
The Connect-a-Bands come with a guide that includes suggestions for play, but we wanted to show off some of our favorite ways that we have used it in therapy and with our own kiddos at home.
The kids even came up with some great ideas of their own for how to play!
Here are some of our favorite ways to use the Connect-a-Bands from Bear Paw Creek:
1 – Tug of War – Hand strength, balance and motor control all come into play with this game! You can hold one end stationary while your child pulls in the opposite direction. For more fun, place a line of tape on the floor under each of your feet and see who can stay on it the longest without being pulled off!
2 – Row Row Row your Boat – We played some other Row Row Row your Boat movement games awhile back, but why not try it with the band around your waists or held in your hands like paddles?
3 – Running Against Resistance – Also great for strengthening and proprioception, have your kiddo get in the Connect-a-Band while you hold the opposite side still. Have her walk away from you forward or backward or even sideways. Have her keep walking until she can’t go any further and then ask her to control the speed at which she comes back to you.
The Connect-a-Band will try to pull her fast but can she walk slowly? Try a game of red light, green light (see below)!
4 – Stand and Stretch – The ULTIMATE strengthening activity! Have your child stand with the band under her feet and, using her hands to hold the stretchy band, reach up high, wide out to the sides, way in front, now behind. Whew!! Hard work and some great proprioceptive input to boot!
5 – Sling Shot – This was SO. MUCH. FUN. If you have a scooter, have your child sit on it, facing you with the band in his hands. You hold the opposite end and stay still. Your child will use his feet (and those strong leg muscles) to scoot the scooter backwards until he can’t go any further! Now for the fun part. Have him lift up his feet and “fly” to you!
6 – Inside/Outside – Need a little coordination work? With the Connect-a-Band clipped together in a circle, secure it low to the floor between two heavy objects that won’t move. Have the child jump into and out of the stretchy band either one foot at a time, or with two feet together.
7 – Up and Over – Have a big group of kids? Have them all get inside the band with the band around their waists. Now, have them pull it up and over their heads so they are now holding it in front of them — kind of like a parachute! Can they all hold it up high together? Can they hold it down by their feet? Can they all step back inside the band to get back to the starting position?
8 – Shapes and Colors – This creative group of kiddos came up with this game all by themselves! Make a shape by stretching the band, call out colors for a partner to run to and try to replicate the shape again! See the video for an example.
9 – Step Over – This last one is awesome for leg strengthening. Have the child stand inside the Connect-a-Band with the band around her ankles, pushing against the resistance. Have her step one leg out of the band, then back in, stretching the band apart again. Then repeat with the other leg. See the video for a quick demonstration.
What other fun ideas can you think of to try with the Connect-a-Band? This product from Bear Paw Creek truly is an awesome tool for inspiring movement activities for kids. It is, by far, my favorite toy in my therapy bag right now!
Thanks so much to Janet for the awesome product! Be sure to visit the Bear Paw Creek website to read more about this and other great movement props for your home or classroom! You can keep up to date on their latest product offerings and updates by following Bear Paw Creek on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.