Gymnastics is one of the healthiest forms of athletics. Children are often drawn to the activity because their small bodies adapt well to the flexibility and balance required. Although rigorous gymnastics may not be the best choice for all kids, gymnastic-based games are great for gym class and allow children to enjoy themselves while getting a full-body workout.
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Crab soccer is a gym class favourite all over the country for kids in the 4 to 7 age range. The rules are exactly the same as for soccer; however, the players are required to move around the floor belly-up with all fours holding them up off the gym floor. The ball in crab soccer is much larger than a normal soccer ball. Oftentimes a beach ball is used. With such a large ball, the game is quite comical and often will result in bouts of laughter. At the same time, however, maintaining one's balance in the "crab" position puts many muscles to work, which is key in gymnastics training.
Another gym class classic is the human pyramid. This is when a group of kids stack themselves on all fours in a triangle with one at the top to act as the summit of the pyramid. This, of course, should not be attempted without safety precautions, such as plenty of gym mats below for cushioning. Usually, the largest/strongest kids will make up the bottom row with each higher row containing lighter children. What the human pyramid does best is to help kids sharpen their balancing skills, which are essential to successful gymnastics.
Freeze is a less interactive game, but can be quite effective in perfecting essential gymnastic skills. The game is simple and similar in some ways to musical chairs. First, a group of children skip, run or dance around the room to music. Then the music suddenly stops, and the children must freeze in position, whether they have a leg in the air or two arms raised up. They must hold this pose until the music restarts. This exercise, which could be compared to child yoga, helps build core muscles as well as balancing skills.
Snatch A Tail
Another fun game that gets children running around the gym in every direction is called "Snatch A Tail." Here, each child has a piece of string hanging from the lower back, like a tail. The goal is simply to pull the tail off of all the other participants. It hardly seems like an exercise since children enjoy chasing each other around so much, but to avoid having their tails pulled, they must engage in some impressive manoeuvring, such as running backwards or quickly changing directions. The development of these motor-skills is particularly valuable in gymnastics, which often requires 360 degrees of awareness.
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