Balloons are a classic favourite that children never seem to outgrow. There are dozens of different games and activities that can be played with balloons that will not only keep children entertained and active, but can also assist develop motor skills and coordination. Although younger children are usually quiet happy just to run around with a balloon tied to a piece of string, they can also be used to teach children to catch, given that they float more slowly than a ball.
Balloons can be further used to assist children develop hand-eye co-ordination, by passing a balloon in figure 8 configurations through and around their legs, or in circles around their waist. This also teaches children to cross their midline which builds a foundation for academic learning. Setting challenges such as ‘carry the balloon across the room between your elbows,’ or ‘jump across the room with the balloon between your knees,’ can also be used to develop symmetrical movement and bilateral coordination.
For older children, more structured games that follow various rules can be played, like modified volley ball, basketball, or balloon tennis with a table tennis or other small bat.
To conduct a scavenger hunt simply create a list of things from around the house for the children to collect as fast as they can. Use it as an opportunity to help your children learn colours, numbers, letters, textures (e.g. find 5 things that feel rough- you might even like to try this on your hands and knees with your eyes closed). Older children might like to create their own list before setting off on an adventure to find them all. In searching for items children should be encouraged to look under, besides, behind, on top, inside, up high, down low etc. to assist develop spatial awareness (where am I compared to something else).
Just as fish need to swim, kids need to run, jump, crawl and climb. These activities not only burn some of that ‘never-ending’ energy that kids seem to have, but also provide an opportunity to practice motor skills and develop coordination.
Obstacle courses can be as simple as, crawl to the end of the hall, hop to the kitchen, and roll across the carpet. The key is to use a variety of movements, direction, and challenges to complete the course. You can also add other objects, like chairs, to climb over, blankets to crawl under, or pillows or paper plates to ‘scoot’ on (place them under your bottom, hands, knees, tummy or back).
For a fun way to design different courses, write 3 lists; one of different ways to move (e.g. jump), one of different directions (e.g. over), and one of different objects (e.g. pillow). Mix and match one item from each list to build the components of your obstacle course.
A list of ways to move could include, tip toe, bum shuffle, slither on your tummy, jump, hop, creep, leap, side step, walk backwards, or crab crawl. A list of directions could include, under, behind, through, around, over, in, between, along, past, or near. And, objects to include on the list could include tables, chairs, pillows, washing baskets, toy boxes, hoops, tunnels, blankets, skipping ropes, balls, or phone books.