It is SO important to incorporate movement activities for kids during the school day! Children need movement breaks to help them to be able to concentrate and learn. I like to do movement activities at the beginning of my OT sessions, prior to seat work activities. Many gross motor activities also have other benefits too and work on motor planning and proximal strength/core strength as well. Here are some of my favorites…….
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1.Tunnel-Tunnel activities are one of my go to warm ups with my pre school and early elementary aged kids. Kids love crawling through the tunnel, and crawling also provides some deep pressure/ proprioceptive input as well. I like to incorporate puzzles with tunnel activities (pieces on one side and board on other) for some added visual skills development. Tunnels also can be incorporated easily into a basic obstacle course.
2.Yoga– Yoga is a great gross motor warm up! It is good for proximal strengthening, motor planning, and some poses also provide proprioceptive/deep pressure input as well which can have a calming effect on the body. My two favorites are these yoga cards, which have actual pictures of kids and I have found are easier for some of my kiddos to follow (you can get these at www.imaginazium.com.) I also like to use the yoga spinner game (see below left,) and the super stretch yoga app for tablets.
3. Games- I love using some games as a gross motor warm up, they are fun and also work on social and turn taking skills. My favorite gross motor game is The Cat in The Hat I Can Do That Game. This is a great game for following 2-3 step directions (with visual picture cards) while completing gross motor activities. This game is also nice for incorporating positional concepts-over/under/in/on. Twister is a nice warm up game and is good for left right side body awareness. There is also a cute Disney Junior game similar to Twister called Super Stretchy, I don’t really love the way the instructions say to play this game (it’s way to challenging,) but I have been able to easily modify it based on the age/skill level of the kids, and the pre schoolers love the Disney Junior characters.
4.Scooterboard– This is another of my “go to” warm up activities. I usually have kids lay on their tummies and use their arms and legs to propel themselves. Scooterboards also work on motor planning skills, proximal strength, and provides some proprioceptive/deep pressure input too. These are nice, as you can tie in academic activities with the scooter board, similar to the tunnel- you can use them for transporting puzzle pieces, putting together letters to make words, etc.
5. GoNoodle- This is a great resource for teachers/parents/therapist that has countless short clips of a variety of movement activities (ie: yoga, dancing, running in place) often with music and silly characters that the kids love! Best of all …. it is free!!! So many of my teachers like this, as once your account is set up, it is super easy to use and incorporate a quick movement break at the touch of a button: www.gonoodle.com
I hope you have found this info helpful and have some new ideas for incorporating movement activities during the school day!
By Kimberly Heyer OTR/L