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'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.