After a few months with lots of snow and cold weather in Toronto, the sunny and warmer days are very welcome! I am so happy to see many children playing outside after school and on the weekend. Outdoor play is important for all students. For struggling students, movement is arguably even more important. Acquiring academic skills is not just a cognitive task. Most tasks require the coordination of gross motor, fine motor and cognitive skills. Children who are skilled at moving their whole bodies, and especially their hands, are well prepared to take on academic tasks.
My children and their friends are particularly enjoying a new toy that we purchased recently – Devil sticks!
These sticks have so many benefits. Kids are drawn to them and are naturally driven to practice so that they can throw and catch the devil stick. Kids will use their whole bodies to perfect that movement, and they work hard to get the timing of their movements right. The sticks always draw a crowd in the schoolyard and in the park, giving the added benefit of practising social skills and turn taking. For all the benefits, they are relatively inexpensive. If you are looking for a new movement activity that will help to build cognitive skills in the background, this is worth a try. Great for kids in grade one and beyond. (I first tried these in high school, and will freely admit that I really bought these for myself. Unfortunately, the kids love them so much that I rarely get a turn!)
Share your favourite outdoor movement activities in the comments below.