|Babies||Walkers to 2||2s to 3s||3s to 4s|
Overview and benefit
Being able to balance is of fundamental importance in young children. Balance begins to develop before birth and continues to develop until adulthood. Without balance, children can’t sit, crawl or stand,, and develop eye movement and vision. Also children with poor balance (or poorly developed vestibular systems) are more likely to have poor attention spans and be easily distracted. Good balance depends on strong back and tummy muscles, so activities to strengthen them are also crucial. The more movement that a child does the more opportunity there is to build muscle tone, stimulate balance and build the neural connections required for development. Practising balancing on different object sand uneven surfaces will build the skill and build muscle tone and control. This activity uses props to encourage balance in a fun obstacle course
Cushions or pillows (large enough to stand on), ropes or tape (to use a balance beam), mats or rubber stepping stones (ensure they are non slip), large beach balls or footballs (large enough for a small child to sit on and balance).
One to two weeks
How it works
Children will be encouraged to try all of the balancing activities on a variety of equipment.
What to do in the class
Lay out the chosen props in four different corners of the room. In a class of 16 you will need sufficient props for four children in each corner. Explain each task to the parents. But on background music and let the group circulate around each activity.
In one corner you could ask the children to balance on their parent’s toes whilst holding their hands. This is also great for developing core muscles needed for balancing.
With the large beach balls, as well as sitting on them, try having the toddler lay on their tummies on them, supported by the parents to ensure they don’t fall off. They can then rock gently forward and back. You could even place bean bags a little way in front of them and get them to stretch forward whilst laying on the ball to retrieve them.
Adaptations for older/younger children
This activity is designed for walking children
What to do in a nursery setting
You will need a member of staff to monitor each different corner and assist the children.