The winding down of the dog days of summer, the excitement of a new school year, the familiarity of dropping back into a family routine...fall is a fresh start. It’s the best time to introduce or remind gymnasts about how to ‘fall’ in a safe way, as well as how to stay safe in the gym. This week is all about safety falling in an engaging, effective way.
To do this, have a think about what do kids love the most about fall:
Jumping in the leaves, of course!
Silk leaves are the only prop that matters for this week. You can pick some up at the dollar store, or amazon (they’re super inexpensive, yippee!) Will you have leaves everywhere? Probably. Will your gymnasts have a blast and learn how to fall in a safe way? Y-E-S. Worth it! If you’re not into getting leaves, you could also cut up ‘autumn’ colored fabric into small squares and have some pretend ‘leaves’ that will still be fun to roll through (gotta love that preschool imagination!)
Here are three ideas for a “Fall Into Fall” theme for the beginning of your fall session:
Plank to Safety Log Roll Through the Leaves
Gymnasts put their hands and feet on the balance beam in a plank position. They tuck their arms in and safety log roll off through the pile of leaves.
Tuck and Roll to Dunk
Parent tot: Parent sits on the edge of the floor with baby in their lap. Gymnast is holding the big, squishy ball. Parent and gymnast tuck, roll back and up. After the roll up, gymnast dunks the ball into the bucket. Make sure this station is on an elevated surface so it makes it easier for parents to roll back and up to stand.
3- 5 year olds: Gymnasts hold the ball and sit on the edge of the floor. Tuck and roll back. Roll up to stand and dunk the ball into the bucket. It makes it easier to stand up because they are on the edge of the floor. Extra challenge: roll up onto one foot, or roll up to straight jump then dunk the ball.
*Happy Gym Hot Tip: When teaching young gymnasts how to roll backward, their natural reaction is what I like to call the SPLAT. This is where you want them to roll back in a tight little tuck, but they shoot their arms and legs out while throwing their little elbows back to stop the roll. Total splat city with limbs everywhere! To help gymnasts with the backward motion, let them hold onto something cuddly while they roll back. This gives gymnasts some security while learning how to go backward. This is why gymnasts are holding a squishy ball in this station.
Leaf Walk to Safe Landing Postion Dismount
Gymnasts walk over the leaves. At the end, gymnasts turn and straight jump into the leaf pile, landing in safe landing position. Place an animal at the end of the balance beam for gymnasts to look at while walking.
Start With the Basics
There are TONS of super engaging ways to teach preschoolers how to fall in the gym. Before we teach our gymnasts how to do any sort of gymnastics, we need to start with safety. Falling is a skill that is extra important both for gymnastics, but also as a skill children will use as they return to school and hit that playground pretty hard during recess.
Happy Fall, Y'All! :)