Relay races or even just relays are really fun ideas that can work on gross and fine motor skills as well as teamwork, cooperation and social skills. All this while the kids are active and playing! Depending on the skill level of the kids involved you may need to modify these but they can be used for groups of kids or for one kid at a time (that’s the beauty of using a timer – they get to ‘race’ against the clock).
Egg and Spoon Race – You can use a typical plastic or metal teaspoon with a plastic egg filled with beans or sand. Or, for younger kids or kids who need a little more help with their stability or balance you could use a bean bag with a plastic serving spoon (the large ones). You can keep it simple by having the kiddo walk straight across without having the egg fall off the spoon or you can have them weave in and out of cones or walk backwards or sideways. You could also play pass the spoon down the row if you have a bunch of kids! If you have a scooter or rolling chair you could incorporate hamstring strengthening by having the child sit on the scooter/chair and use their legs to ‘walk’ themselves to the other side or you could get some teamwork going and have another kiddo push the one on the scooter/chair. All this without letting the egg fall off the spoon!
Three Legged Race – You can get some bandanas or use thera-band or any material that you can tie two legs together. The kids have to work together to get from one side to the other. You can make it more challenging by having them have to hold something or bend down and pick up things from the ground as they cross. One kid can hold the container while the other kiddo picks the item (i.e. bean bag or smaller if you are working on fine motor skills) up and places it in the bag/container. Talk about teamwork and balance skills! If its just one kid you are working with you can partner up with them or get a sibling involved!
Potato Sack Race – This one can be done with store bought potato sacks or with oversize pillow cases or actual potato sacks. Have the child get in and hop across to the other side. If they are much higher level have them hop on one foot over and the other foot back. For kiddos still developing jumping skills you can give them some hand hold assist while they hop their way across to the other side.
Over and Under – A great activity for teamwork and sequencing as well as balance and coordination. Get a line of kids all facing forward (using a tape line for them to stand on or individual spots may help with the chaos that could ensue). Give the first child a ball or a bean bag (or a water balloon if you are outside and its summer time) and have them reach over head to hand it to the person behind them. Once that kiddo has the ball then they pass it between their legs to the child behind them. The kids take turns alternating over and under until it reaches the end of the line and then they reverse it to get the ball back to the first person.
Magic Hat Race – You can put a bunch of options into a ‘magic hat’ and then draw out a piece of paper to see what they are going to do for that turn. Some options are: running, hopping, skipping, walking backwards, twirling, walking on tiptoes, crawling, bear walking, crab walking, etc. You could do this as many times as you want and get in lots of practice for skills. Its also interesting for kiddos who have difficulties with motor planning and coordination to see how they do when they feel like they need to move faster. It will give you an idea of what skills you still need to practice at slower speeds or by breaking them down into components.
Wheelbarrow – This is really fun when its two kids working together but even if its you and a kid its a great way to work on core and upper extremity strengthening. Depending on the strength of the child you may need to get on your knees because the higher you hold their legs the harder it can be for them. Same with holding them by the hips or all the way out by the feet (hips is easier than feet).
Tightrope Walk – Put a piece of tape along the ground and have the kids pretend they are walking on a tight rope and if they ‘fall’ off they have to start over. You can have them do it taking giant steps, baby steps, on their tip toes, sideways or even backwards to mix it up.
Logroll – Kids lie on the ground and roll from one side to the other. Its amazing to see if they can stay on track. If you have more than one kiddo have them lie down head to head and hold hands and try to roll together across the room without letting go of each others hands. I highly recommend you try it with the kiddos too – its lots of fun!
What ideas do you have or have you used??