Raise your hand if you’re always surprised when kiddos aren’t quite able to hang on the bar by themselves in preschool...
Yeah, me too.
It is easy to forget how tiny their little hands are, and how challenging it can be for them to support their entire body weight. As another hurdle, bars can be especially challenging to plan for parent tot classes!
After attending an awesome bar lecture by Sandi McGee at National Congress this year, I had a lightbulb moment. She reminded me that before bars, there should be grip strength stations to get those tiny little hands ready to wrap around the bar.
Then, *ding* lightbulb moment for me, I thought: Just because they aren’t swinging, doesn’t mean they’re not working!
I was inspired to create and practice more grip strength stations in preschool. Here are three great and super simple ideas to work that grip strength:
Squeeze the Ducky
This one is awesome, easy and even better if your duckies squeak. I put some ducks in plates on a beam station. The gymnasts walk down the beam, bend down (in a squat, hopefully!) and work hard to squeeze the duck. I got ducks of different sizes which made one more challenging than the other.
Pull Me Through the Sharks
This one is a Parent Tot special! Parents hang onto the tapping stick with one hand. They will walk backward. Gymnasts hold onto the stick with two hands. They will walk forward. When everyone is ready, parents begin to (gently!) pull the child, making the child have to work that grip strength to hold onto the stick. The parent gently pulls the child “through the shark tank”.
Heads Up: Explain to your parents we are NOT picking up the stick with the child dangling from it. Yes, in real life I had to say that to my class (*facepalm*).
Boys will love this. I repeat, BOYS. WILL. LOVE. THIS.
Step one: steal one of the team program’s therabands. Step two: tie animals to it in a way that doesn’t make it look barbaric. Step three: wrap theraband around the bar. Step four: gymnasts pull the band down as far as they can and let do WHICH LAUNCHES THE ANIMAL INTO SPACE! Just kidding, animal is still attached to the band.
Look how hard her hands are working to hold onto the band!
Happy Gym hot tip: use a pretty flexible theraband and explain the the gymnasts that this is a “one at a time” station. Make sure there is a LOT of room around this station as well (ie: don’t place your next station very close to this one).
Get a Grip On Things
Hopefully these stations got your creativity flowing a bit and inspired you to try some grip strength stations. Remember the most important thought with preschool: if it isn’t fun, why are you doing it?
Developing grip strength in a creative and engaging way will get your kiddos ready to swing their little hearts out when they’re ready. If you’ve got grip strength covered, check out The Idea Book for some awesome preschool bar stations!