More counting songs for: Climbing Classes
Counting songs are fabulous because kids can see the end. This helps when they are practicing a skill that they equate to a root canal. I use these ones in toddler & preschool classes with kids in the 1-4 year old range.
5 in the Bed (and the little one said)
All of my toys are named Bob. Mostly because I can never think of creative names. I have mermaids, ducks, cars, and sandwiches all named Bob. My favorite has to be Trash Can Bob. He encourages fine motor skills, keep kids entertained while waiting, and motivates frightened athletes. Bob is pretty awesome. He is velcro intensive, so he can transform from monster to fairy to superhero to mustache man. Let's be honest though- he usually sports his mustache.
Bringing Bob to Life
The small swing top trash cans work best. 1.5 gallons seems to be a standard size. You can usually find these in Target. Dollar Tree also has a smaller version in several colors right now. I really like this one because it's just the right size and the swinger doesn't fall off as often.
I attach Velcro in several spots for his eyes, arms, horns, wings, mustache, ears, etc. I place soft Velcro on the trashcan itself so that I can use appendages from Build-a-Puppets. I attach the hook Velcro to a variety of googly eyes, animal ears, butterfly wings and mustaches to give the man some personality.
The eyes can make the swing lid off balance, so I duct taped a piece of foam to the inside back of the lid.
There are also a lot of cute ideas if you search "muncher" + "trash" on pinterest.
I have tried all sorts of tactics to make velcro hold up in the pool. The adhesive on standard velcro is a no go. If you allow the proper setting time you can use plumbers pvc glue with standard velcro. I have used Christie's.
I've also used industrial strength extreme velcro. It's totally EXTREME brah, and it doesn't have the messy blue goop that you get from the pvc glue. Purple Bob's eyes did fall off after 10 days of pool use with this Velcro...
Progress Tracking- Pool
I set aside 5-10 pieces of food in a bowl for Bob. We feed him one piece after each turn (2 if I see a lot of focus and effort in the turn) and then when his bowl is empty it's time for a game.
Fine Motor in the Pool- Youngins
Sometimes Bob is hungry enough to eat a bus. I'll lay out small transportation manipulatives and matchbox cars next to Bob at the edge of the pool. These sink so I don't bother throwing them. 1 swimming turn = feed Bob 1 car.
I set out a variety of "picker uppers" so that we can pretend we are cranes lifting the cars or they are covered in radioactive goop and we can't touch them. I happen to have quite a few truck obsessed swimmers right now, but you can use any small objects.
Fine Motor in the Pool- Too Big for Their Britches
For older kids who can easily swim to the bottom we take it up a notch by using tongs or chopsticks. We spread out a bunch of small toys on the bottom of the pool and kids need to dive down and bring them up to Bob without using their fingers. I tried it myself with chopsticks and it's pretty hard!
This can be used as a fun reward or to encourage lengthening breath control without bringing attention to it. If some kids know that you want them to stay under for longer they will push their limits and hold their breath for too long. This is why you won't see "underwater contests" in swim lessons anymore.
Motivating More Wall Time
Some young climbers need a lot of coaxing to increase time on the wall. I like to turn Bob into a monster and place monster food (pom poms, or whatever you have on hand) in climbing holds at various heights. It helps to have a few "gimmees" that can be grabbed from floor level as well as some higher food that may take a few tries to reach. I place Bob on the gym mat and kids get a small break between climbs as they feed him. To incorporate fine motor or increase rest time you can use tongs or tweezers to feed Bob.
Progress Tracking- Climb
You can also use Bob for progress tracking as in swimming above. Lay out 5-10 pieces of food and students must complete a climb or demonstrate a specific skill for each piece. When Bob's bowl is empty they've earned a reward!
Grab Bag Skills
For older students you can place small foam shapes or plastic discs in holds throughout the gym. I also like to use the rubber duckies from myprevious post for this. Bob loves roast duck.
Each token lists a skill or drill that they must complete before feeding it to Bob. Tasks could include things like: 5 burpees, 3 consecutive dynamic moves, traverse using only crimps, climb a V0 with 1 hand, etc. You can also include some goofy skills like: create a victory dance on the finish hold, or name a type of food every time you touch a hold.
If I have a class of "new readers" who are just on the cusp of literacy I'll usually go around and read some of the discs as they are collected and act like it's part of the game. It can be embarrassing for a student to ask for help reading his disc. Whenever possible I also draw a picture.
Yoga & Fitness Games
Bob Eats His Feelings
After discussing different emotions and how to recognize them in ourselves/others it's time to get up and move again. I scatter the emotions all over the room and the class has to hop/skip/jump to grab an emotion and balance it on their head while delivering it to Bob. I've used laminated pictures with different emotions drawn on as well as emotional bean bags.
We start with a pop quiz where I hold up an item (play food, dollhouse pieces, small toys) and the kids create a yoga pose to depict the object. Students chose half moon for "banana" and child's pose for "strawberry". We scatter the objects all over the room and students hold each pose for 2 slow breaths before feeding it to Bob. You could also use laminated pictures of the poses you are learning that day.
I love to use silly words with a familiar cadence in all of my lessons. Even the infant classes start to recognize certain words and guess what's coming next. I didn't realize how many of them involved junk food until I wrote a list. Apparently I was hungry at the time. I'll have to add one about kale & quinoa that the kids can relate to.
Some of the phrases I use are:
Intermediate Swimming- Beginning Roll-Overs:
When introducing rolling onto the back to breath, I have kids say "Peanut Butter M&M mmmm" while on their back. As they say mmm (encourages blowing bubbles through the nose like humming) I roll them onto their belly. As they start doing roll-overs (swim 4 arms on belly, roll on back to breath, repeat) on their own a lot of kids will do a fast 360 and miss the breath. By saying "Peanut Butter M&M" out loud I know that they are breathing while on their back but not hanging out for too long.
Intermediate Swimming- Integrating Arms & Kick:
Some students have a great kick when using a kick board, but have trouble maintaining it while performing the whole stroke. I have kids begin with streamlining/kick for 3-5 seconds and then add in the arm stroke when I say "Cheddar Cheese Doodle".
Advanced Swimming- Breaststroke:
To encourage gliding in breaststroke and bring the timing together in a fun way we say "Pull, Breathe, Kick...Double Decker Chocolate Cake". As swimmers become more adept, we shorten the glide to "ooga booga" for a more natural flow. This tends to slow down the speed demon breaststrokers and bring some fun to learning proper timing- the most difficult part of breaststroke.
Yoga & Active Movement Games
Mindfulness- Introduction to Mantras & Walking Meditation:
I have used the silly phrases as a lead in to learning about mantras and walking meditation. I place yoga blocks in a circle or poly spots in a spiral. As we walk along the dots or blocks we say "yabba dabba doo" each time we place a foot. After getting out the giggles, we start to incorporate Thich Nhat Hanh's simple walking meditation (I usually only use the first two lines in kids classes):
l also love these posts about children's mantras from Left Brain Buddha and Move With Me.
Climbing- Static vs Dynamic:
I used to describe dynamic & static movement as fast and slow to the itty bitty climbers, but this wasn't even accurate enough for a 3 yr old translation. Now I have them hover their hand over the next hold and say a silly phrase before touching down. We use lots of different voices to keep things interesting as well. A climber should be able to pause at any time while moving statically, whereas he is committed to the dynamic move as soon as he leaves the first hold.
Climbing- Hold Types:
When reviewing hold types or simple movements you can keep kids engaged by calling out a hold when they reach it. For example, during a traverse we might say "crimper" in a small baby voice, "sloperific" with a surfer persona, or "jug" in a deep drawl when we come across each hold. I will also have students say "Matchey Matchey" in a bird chirp when matching feet, or "d-d-d-dyno" when making a dynamic move.
Rebecca & Sarah have been working with children for over a decade. You can find a compilation of ideas for the classroom, home, and athletic fields here.