Monday, 20 October 2014

DIY balance equipment

We went to the museum and Seb just had to climb into every single thing!

Children love climbing onto stuff. Anything! Couches, tables, mum, trees. With complete disregard of safety, they practise their gross motor skills. It's great to watch them have such fun, or to be part of it!

I made a few things for Seb, to encourage his play, while keeping him from using less ideal objects. That said, nothing replaces me. He climbs on me, uses my legs as a slide, flips over bent knees like a somersault. He loves me lifting him over my head and slide down my back. There are many games that you can do to practise your biceps and other muscles! Just take care you don't lift abruptly by the hands or feet as you can dislocate little joints. I hold seb by the armpits and lift firmly and gently, taking great care and precision in my actions. 

Same day, same museum! Lucky they have more appropriate materials like this snake. You can use anything. In dance class we use big river stones, foam bricks, ropes etc. 

Balance beam
I was a bit lucky that when I pulled my bed apart, I was left with a 2m bit of wood, about 8cm square. Voila, balance beam! That's all you need, nothing more. It's not completely stable, which  is great as it makes balancing just hard enough. 
Alternatives are plenty and children seem to find balance beams anywhere! You don't even need something raised, a line on the ground works well too. 

Balancing on the board before I painted it. He loves it and it comes out regularly. 

Balance board.
This is a small bit of wood, I think is 5 ply, about 1.5 cm thick and about 25 by 35 cm square.  I screwed a bit of wood in the middle of it, to create a see saw and covered that with fabric. I painted two feet on the top, where you'd stand. It's great fun to stand on it and wiggle! The fabric underneath is optional, I did it because we have a wooden floor and it would minimise damage.
I screwed the beam onto the boards from underneath. Take care the screws can't go all the way through! It's not quite center, uhm, by design. I promise! Nah, I tried hard but once it was done realised my brilliance! It's different to balance on and requires greater precision. 

I think montessori schools have a round one, which moves any which way. This would give far greater diversity in movement.  I could have screwed a small square to the bottom and that would have done the same. 

Walk the circle.
Most, if not all, montessori schools will have an ellipse stuck on the ground. The kids can walk around, carefully following the line.  While I haven't seen this written anywhere, I imagine an ellipse is used because the angle of the line changes constantly, fine tuning your balance. I can't imagine Maria Montessori doing something without clear multipurpose.
I've got wooden floors and used making tape to create the circle. It's not as nice as I'd like it to be. But it does stick well, unlike the coloured tape I've used in the past to make shapes.

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