Strength: Jump the River Game

How do you play?

  • Place 2 long pieces (4 to 6 feet long, depending on the amount of room you have) of masking tape on the floor or carpet, next to each other so that at one end, the pieces are close together, and the other ends are further apart. / \. The pieces of tape should be only inches apart on one end to about a foot to foot and a half at the other end.
  • Tell the children that this is a pretend river. They are to try to jump over the river without falling in.
  • Start at the close-together end. Jump across. Move down the “river” to where it is wider. Jump. Move again and jump further and further, back and forth across the “river.”
  • As in teaching most concepts physically, if you can demonstrate, you should do that first. Demonstrate how to do a broad jump. Then help the children pull their arms back at the shoulders, hands behind their bodies, arms straight. Show them how to fling their arms forward at the same time that they jump forward, thus jumping farther out rather than just up and down. Now that’s coordination!

Bonus: Some older preschool-aged children find it fun to pretend that it is dangerous to fall into the river. Place plastic snakes, frogs, alligators, fish, or other water creatures, in the “river” between the two tapes to help the pretending.

Warning: Some children are more easily frightened than others. Use only friendly plastic animals for them. Also, help them understand that this is only pretend. If they are anxious or afraid, do not belittle them. Some children need a gentler approach. Jump with them for the first few jumps. I believe that some children get frightened at what others enjoy because the adrenalin rush feels exciting and pleasant to some and unpleasant and terrifying to others. Be understanding. Keep it fun, not fearful.