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Thursday, December 5, 2013
A KINETIC CHRISTMAS: Christmas Crawl
FROM CRAWLING TO SKIPPING (Approximately 6 months & up)
In our new book, A Moving Child Is a Learning Child, we talk about why crawling matters. Not only does it help develop muscle strength and physical coordination, crawling "accelerates the growth of critical connections between the right and left sides of the brain."*
Most adults think of crawling is a "stage" kids go through, and once little ones are up and walking, crawling is a thing of the past. But in fact, crawling is a power-packed developmental fuel that should be encouraged all throughout the early years. And it's especially important for children who have "skipped" the crawling stage and gone straight to walking. (Please note: There's nothing wrong with early walking, but crawling has so many benefits, I always encourage parents and caregivers to get kids back down on all fours whenever you can.)
Here's a fun little game that can be played during the holidays or any time of the year. Indoors or out, the object of the game is to encourage kids to crawl. It can be played at any age just by adding the number and level of challenges.
To begin, create a trail to follow. Use tinsel, ribbon, rope or anything you have handy. Make the trail as short, long, straight, or winding as you like. Along the trail, create play stations using whatever you have around the house. Here are a few examples to get you started...
FOR FIRST-TIME CRAWLERS: CRAWL TO ME
You are her favorite play station. Lay out a short trail and go to the end of it, encouraging her to crawl to you. Cheer her on and give her a big hug when she arrives!
FOR EARLY CRAWLERS: CRAWLING FUN
Once she's crawling confidently, add small challenges to the trail, such as...
CURVES & TURNS. Add curves and turns in the path to encourage her to "steer" herself in different directions
HILLS. Put a small pillow on the path to encourage her to crawl over it.
TUNNELS. Thread the trail under a table or chair or through a play tunnel or cardboard box to give her a sense of going in, under, and through space.
PLAY STATIONS. Put favorite toys along the path to encourage her to crawl to them.
FOR TODDLERS: CRAWL ALONG GAMES
Once little ones are walking everywhere, crawling does take a back seat as a mode of transportation. Encourage kids to re-engage the floor...
SHAPE TRAILS. Create a trail in different shapes such as circles, squares, triangles, etc., and encourage her to crawl on the trail.
TOY TRAILS. Cars, trucks, and animal toys get kids to stay on the floor and crawl. Use the whole floor space and create a track for her to crawl around to "drive" her toys.
CRAWL 'N SOLVE. Create a winding trail and place puzzle pieces along the path. Encourage her to crawl along the trail to gather the pieces one at a time and return them to the puzzle. (Alternatively, scatter pieces all around the floor and have her crawl to retrieve them.)
CRAWL 'N SORT. Gather a number of small toys and line them up along the trail. Encourage her to crawl back and forth along the line of toys. At first, she may just want to play with the toys. Later on, use the toys as a sorting game... sorting them from biggest to smallest, or by color.
FOR PRESCHOOLERS: CHRISTMAS CRAWL
Up in the North Pole things get very busy around the holidays so everyone chips in to help. But sometimes, too many helpers in the workshop is not that helpful after all!
For instance, last Christmas, things were especially busy in Santa's Workshop, so Santa asked the polar bears to chip in and help. They're always glad to help Santa, of course, so the polar bears marched straight over to the workshop, including young Polaris.
Now, for Polaris, this was his first Christmas Eve and his first chance to help Santa, so he was very excited, indeed! Polaris stopped at the door's edge, straightened his bright red Christmas bandana, and stepped inside.
The hubbub of Christmas was like nothing Polaris had ever seen! And it was clear, the elves needed his help. So Polaris jumped right into action… and, oops! He tripped right over his own four feet and knocked into an elf with a huge stack of presents!
Can you help Polaris pick up the presents and get them into the sleigh before Santa takes off?
PICK UP PRESENTS! Set out a bin to act as the sleigh. Scatter objects around the floor. When you say "go," have the kids crawl around, pick up all the presents, and get them back in the sleigh. Only here's the catch. Polar Bear don't have hands! Encourage (or assist) the kids to work out how to get the presents back to the sleigh WITHOUT using their hands! For instance…
BACKPACK PICK UP… The adult puts the present on the child's back and the child then carefully makes his way back to the sleigh without letting the present slip off.
NECKWARMER PICK UP… The child picks up the present with her chin, holds it against her chest and brings it back to the sleigh.
SEAL PICK UP… The adult puts the present on the child's calves and and the child crawls like a seal back to the sleigh without dropping the present.
And to encourage teamwork, try these...
SIDE TO SIDE PICK UP... Have two children wedge the present between their shoulders or sides, and together, return the present to the sleigh.
HEAD TO HEAD PICK UP... This one is tricky! Have the children put a present (a soft toy or pillow) between their heads and crawl SIDEWAYS back to the sleigh.
FOOT TO FOOT PICK UP... Trickier still, the kids can't see each other with this one. Have the children put a present between their feet and together crawl sideways back to the sleigh.
Tell us how it goes for your little polar bears. Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, active holiday season!
From A Moving Child Is a Learning Child: How the Body Teaches the Brain to Think by Gill Connell and Cheryl McCarthy, copyright © 2013. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.
If you'd like more information about A Moving Child Is a Learning Child, hop over to our friends at Free Spirit Publishing!
A KINETIC CHRISTMAS
24 DAYS OF ACTIVE HOLIDAY PLAY!