HALLOWEEN GAME FOR GROSS MOTOR SKILLS
As a child, I always wished I could juggle. I would practice for hours and hours and still only be able to manage two objects at a time…and only for a few seconds!! Once I got to college, it was a mandatory part of training for our basketball team to learn to juggle – 3 and even 4 objects – while standing, walking, running, moving backwards. It was the ultimate measure of hand eye coordination and it was my nemesis! Even so, juggling has proven to be a great treatment tool for me during my years as a physical therapist. It’s one of the best gross motor activities for developing hand eye coordination, reaction time, balance, overall coordination, motor planning and control, visual tracking, body awareness, and confidence!!
WHAT TO DO: To put a fall twist on this activity, we are going to use mini pumpkins! They are a great size for little hands and offer some weight, which helps with coordinating the movements. To begin, ask your child to gently toss one pumpkin up and then catch it. Toss and catch a few times so she can get the feel of the pumpkin. Next, suggest that she move a little while they’re tossing and catching their little pumpkin. Then, try playing catch with not one, but two pumpkins. You begin with a pumpkin and your child has a pumpkin. On the count of three, both of you gently toss the pumpkin at the same time. Do this a few times back and forth.
Once this has been mastered, try letting your child handle two pumpkins. Begin with pumpkins in both hands. Tell her to toss the pumpkin in her right hand up and pass the second pumpkin from her left to her right while the other pumpkin is still in the air, catching the tossed pumpkin with her left. This will take some practice! This is just about as advanced as juggling gets for young kids. If you are ever ready for that third pumpkin, come on back and I will give you some pointers! And, just a little piece of advice, try juggling on the soft grass or in a pile of leaves…..you might just save a pumpkin or two!
HOW TO CHANGE IT UP:
– Try other fall objects and have your child explain the difference in how it feels to “juggle” various textures and weights (pinecones, leaves, acorns)
– Try tossing for speed between two partners. Set a timer for 30 seconds and see how many times you can exchange pumpkins (or other objects) between each other without a drop.
– Can you toss and catch your pumpkin while standing on one foot? How about with your eyes closed?
THE HALLOWEEN GAME FOR GROSS MOTOR SKILLS AREAS ADDRESSED: Gross motor skills, visual motor integration, coordination, balance, proprioception, motor control, visual perceptual skills
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