By Connie Bergstein Dow, author of From A to Z with Energy! 26 Ways to Move and Play
On Your Spot is a multi-layered activity for children ages three to eight. It is especially pertinent now that many children are returning to in-person classes. On Your Spot teaches and reinforces the social-emotional skills of spatial awareness (specifically understanding of personal versus shared space); body awareness; listening to and following instructions; problem solving; and impulse control. Children will also use their creativity in responding to movement prompts, and perform a wide variety of age-appropriate large and small motor skills. The activity takes 20 to 30 minutes.
1. Mark spots on the floor 6 feet apart, with one spot for each child participating in the activity. You can do this with small mats, carpet squares, or masking-tape X’s.
2. Select upbeat music to accompany the activity—perhaps a class favorite.
3. Clearly explain the activity and boundaries: This is an activity that you will do while staying on your spot. You will imagine you are in a bubble of space that surrounds your spot. The size of your bubble is where you can reach all around you with your hands and feet while standing on your spot. We will see how many different movements we can do without leaving our spots! Listen and watch carefully as I give you movement ideas to try.
Begin the Activity
Share the following instructions with children:
1. Start out by standing tall on your spot. Using your arms and legs, stretch your body in all directions to explore the boundaries of your imaginary bubble of space while not moving away from your spot.
2. Move your head, your shoulders, your arms, your torso, your legs. How many ways can you move your body while staying in your spot?
3. Bend your knees and straighten them. Try it five more times.
4. Bend your knees and go up onto your tiptoes. Do that five more times.
5. Turn around your body all the way around. Now turn it around going the other direction. Do it slowly. Now try it faster.
6. Go up on your tiptoes again—can you balance? Can you balance with your arms reaching up high?
7. Stand on one leg and balance as long as you can. Then try it on the other leg.
8. Take ten full counts or beats to go to a sitting position on your spot. Now take five counts to stand up. Now go down in three counts, up in two counts, and down in one count!
Sitting on the Floor
1. Spin on your seat. Then spin the other way. Try it again spinning as fast as you can.
2. Bend and straighten one leg on the floor a few times. Then lift your leg up off the floor and try bending and straightening it in the air. Do the same with the other leg.
3. Try bending and straightening both legs while they’re on the floor. Then try it again while lifting your legs off the floor.
4. Move your legs in all directions.
5. Stretch or lean your upper body to the left. Now bring the your right arm overhead and gently stretch in that position for a few seconds. Do the same on the other side. Then repeat the stretch once more on each side.
6. Stretch your arms in all directions.
7. Clap your hands or arms in front of you, and then behind you. Do that four more times.
8. Clap your hands over your head, then tap them on the floor. Repeat several times.
1. Lie down on your back on your spot. Lift your arms in the air. Circle your wrists. Wiggle your fingers.
2. Lift your legs in the air. Circle your ankles. Wiggle your toes.
3. Now do the same thing with your legs and your arms in the air.
4. Imagine you are a bug stuck on your back. Wiggle!
5. Roll over onto your stomach, still staying centered on your spot. Try lifting your head, neck, shoulders, and chest, supporting yourself with your hands if you need to. Lower yourself back down, and repeat several times.
6. Bring yourself into a crouched position, on your feet, with your hands touching the floor and your head down.
7. Imagine you are a little kernel of popcorn. Let’s count together backwards from ten to one. Stay in that crouched position until we get to “one.” Then pop up and jump on your spot!
8. Turn around as you jump. Jump and turn around the other way.
1. Hop on one foot, then the other. Try hopping and turning at the same time.
2. Make a twisty shape with your body. Now make another one. Make one more. Now go from one twisty shape to the other: First twisty shape! Second twisty shape! Third twisty shape! Freeze! Do this a few more times, setting a faster pace each time.
3. Dance freely without leaving your spot. You can use the movements we have already done, and also see if you can find even more ways of moving on your spot! I will play some music while you dance.
Finish the Activity
Bring the activity to a quiet ending. Here are some examples:
Stand on your spot. Imagine you are a snowman. Make a snowman shape with your body. What will happen when the sun comes out? Show what happens by moving your body.
Either stand, sit, or lie down on your spot. Close your eyes and listen to your heartbeat.
Sit on your spot. Imagine you are outdoors on a cool evening and you have built a campfire. Feel the warmth from the fire. Lie back and look at the stars, Listen to the sounds of the night.
Connie Bergstein Dow took her first dance class when she was four years old and has been dancing ever since. After attending Denison University and earning an MFA from the University of Michigan, she danced professionally in the United States, Venezuela, and Guatemala. Connie has had a long career as a dance educator and has written two books for teachers about integrating movement into the early childhood classroom, articles for magazines and journals, and verses for Highlights. She shares her passion for dance by writing, teaching, volunteering, visiting schools and libraries, and offering movement workshops to early childhood professionals. Visit Connie at www.movingislearning.com.
Connie is the author of From A to Z with Energy! 26 Ways to Move and Play
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