Instructions for Stretching Activities for Children
Stretching activities help grade-school children minimize injuries and improve their joints' range of motion. These activities should have a balance of fun and creativity with practicality, because children will get bored easily if an activity isn't fun. You do not need any equipment, and you should incorporate static and dynamic stretches in the activities. Static stretching is where you stretch a muscle group for a time, while dynamic stretching is moving your joint or muscles in their full range of motion in repetitions, according to physical educator Robert Pangrazi.
Full-Body Dynamic Stretch
Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your hands by your sides and your feet pointing forward.
Raise your arms in front of you and over your head. Exhale and look up at the same time, pushing your hip slightly to the front. Exhale and bend forward to touch your toes or the ground.
Walk your hands forward on the ground until you are in a push-up position with your heels off the ground and your body parallel to the floor. Do not lift your buttocks up. Stay there for two deep breaths.
Walk your hands back to your feet with your legs straight. Slowly stand back up to return to starting position. Repeat the exercise four more times.
Call out a letter of the alphabet and have the children form that letter with their body. Tell them to hold that position for three seconds. Choose five to six letters that they can do.
Instruct half of the children in the group to form bridges with their bodies. Tell them to form an obstacle course so that the other half of the group can crawl under. Switch group functions after one group have completed the course, and have the crawling group make body bridges.
Ask the group how a certain animal would move, stand or sit, and have them mimic that animal for 15 seconds. Tell them to behave like that animal, but discourage any movement that would harm another child, such as biting, clawing or kicking. Choose three different animals.
If one side of your body is tighter than the other side, do an extra set of stretches on that side, physical therapist Chris Frederick recommends. Do this in every workout until both sides feels even.
- "Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children"; Robert Pangrazi; 2006
- "Stretch to Win"; Ann and Chris Frederick; 2006
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