Balance takes many forms. You need good balance to gain every gross motor skill from sitting to running and climbing. The following balance activities are for toddlers and up who are working on walking skills.
1.) Balance Beam:
This can be purchased through most toy stores but you can make your own out of a short scrap of lumber, bricks in your yard, or anything else you may have around. Use a railroad tie at a park or a curb outside as well. The most important part of balance work is keeping it safe and not pushing it too hard.
—Use the balance beam as part of an overall obstacle course. Set up pillows, the beam, a homemade tunnel, etc and have a crawling, climbing, walking obstacle course of your own design.
—Work on walking forward with one foot on and one off (a three year old skills)
—Work on stepping over the beam
—Work on standing on the beam with arms holding a wall—practice walking sideways facing the wall or forward with one hand on the wall
—Use the beam beside a couch for the same activities as in (d)
—Stand on the beam and practice jumping down (do so first by holding your child’s hands and then reduce to one hand, and finally no hands when they are ready)
2.) One leg propping:
You can sit behind a busy toddler playing at a couch and prop one leg on yours and let them keep playing. This promotes better balance and strength. If you child uses this to climb up on the couch, wonderful! This is also good. You cannot lose!
3.) Play Simon Says or Follow the Leader:
…to lure your child to do any balance move or pose you can dream up! Make sure to incorporate one leg standing and squatting up and down: for example, say “Simon says stand on one leg”, “Simon says be a rock”, “Simon says stand on your tip toes”. You are trying to create work in a fun way.
4.) Bear Walking:
some young toddlers do this but it is wonderful for older kids too. This is a great strengthening and balance game. Make it a race! Bear walking is when you walk on hands and feet with bottom up high.
5.) Ladder Games:
There are so many of these. You can make a ladder with masking tape on the floor, sidewalk chalk outside, or for older kids, use your sports equipment like field hockey sticks, etc.
—Jump over each rung of the ladder
—Walk over the ladder only touching between rungs OR only the rungs
—Bear walk up the sides of the ladder
—Use the side of the ladder as a “balance beam”
—Side step over the rungs
—Make two ladders and have a race taking toys, rocks, Easter eggs or whatever you want from one bucket to another.
The ideas are endless and so much fun.
Put on music and let your inner dancer go. You can also do structured dancing with movement songs and games. If you have forgotton the words, make up your own!
7.) Movement Games:
This is more than just dancing, this is also using specific hand motions and activities. See my Online Store for a whole book devoted to this wonderful world of fun and song.
There are many more ways to work on balance but these will get you started!