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.
I'm often looking for games that will keep the class occupied while one student is taking an individual turn. These matching games have been working well and are adjustable for many ages/venues. All of the games below use:
You can write directly on the ducks, but since I want to use the same tools for multiple games, I placed a small piece of Velcro on the bottom of each duck and disc using superglue.
Oriental Trading has a variety of character ducks, so I have also used this game in specific themes such as Monster Mania, Superhero Day, & Fairy Tale Adventure. I like the Monster & 123 ducks best for everyday use.
We play lots of matching games in the climbing gym by hiding the ducks on climbing holds and placing the laminates on the floor. Kids climb to a duck and bring it down to match it up! Non readers bring the duck to their instructor first for a translation.
To reinforce safe climbing rules I use pictures of climbers in different situations. Each duck has a disc saying "safe" or "unsafe". Each child climbs to retrieve a duck and then match it to a corresponding safe or unsafe picture. I have made up flash cards for this game with an easy level (green circles for "safe" and red No Symbols for "unsafe") and a hard level (no hints).
You can download my safety matching cards below:
Using the Monster ducks, I placed the wall angle discs on the ducks and drew stick figure walls on the speech bubbles to show overhang, slab, vertical, arete and dihedral. You can also use photographs to review lots of topics with this game. We have done wall angles, hold types and types of moves (matching, backstep, sidepull) so far.
You can "waterproof" this game by using the plastic tokens listed above (the wooden discs don't hold up in the pool) and waterproof plumbing glue to hold the velcro. I have made a beginner set and an advanced set that I can switch out as needed. The beginner set lists skills such as "eyes in", "kicks", "swimming arms" by showing a picture of each body part. The advanced set lists strokes and drills such as "butterfly", "3 arm backstroke", and "flip turns". One student swims to retrieve a duck and everyone performs the skill listed.
Duck In a Bucket:
In the pool it's especially important for waiting children to be engaged. In beginner lessons I scatter the ducks throughout the pool and place the laminates on a floating mat by the platform or on the pool deck within easy reach. I take each child out to swim for a duck and then they can match it up while they wait for their next turn. To maintain engagement I change up the criteria. They can place each duck on a bucket based on color, number (write a number on each laminated bucket), letter, etc.
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.