For these balancing games, you may use any small stuffed animals, small soft dolls, or bean bags. Tell the children that this bean bag, doll, or stuffed animal is their “Buddy.” Play with your children, and encourage them to copy you. This activity teaches body awareness and also listening and following direction skills, along with balance.
- Begin with one “Buddy” on the floor in front of each child. Have the children kneel or sit on the floor. Give instructions such as: “Can you put your elbow on your Buddy?” “Do you have a wrist? Where is your wrist? That’s right! Can you put your wrist on your Buddy?” Keep naming body parts.
- Next have the children stand. Now balance gets harder. Give instructions again to put different body parts on the “Buddy.”
- Also have them place their “Buddy” on the body parts. Demonstrate the difference between the “Buddy” on them and them on the “Buddy.”
- Direct the children to walk, balancing their “Buddy” on their heads. You can play funky, funny music and dance or move around with the bean bag “Buddy” on different body parts. Try balancing on one foot with their “Buddies” on one knee. Hop. Dance or move with their “Buddies” on top of their feet, between their knees, on their shoulders, elbows, any body part.
- Teach 2-year-olds where their “knuckles” are. They love the funny names their body parts have. I’d probably save the “Achilles tendon” for grade school.
- Try crawling with “Buddy” balancing on different body parts. Crawling is excellent for wiring the brain even after children walk. Encourage it.
- Besides learning and reinforcing the names of various body parts, these games help them children learn spatial concepts such as over, under, around, through, in, out, or between. For example, “Put your Buddy between your knees. Can you walk like this?” Waddle around holding your own Buddy between your knees. Try making funny sound effects with every step. They’ll love it!
Need to make bean bags? Check out how: Homemade Bean Bags