January 7, 2015

Indoor Play - Following the Leader

I don't know about you, but I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold weather. I just want to hibernate under a blanket with a book and stay warm. However my kids need to get out some energy! Today I'm sharing some fun ways to get your children moving indoors so they're not bouncing off the walls (without permission).

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Young kids love playing follow the leader - especially if mommy is playing too! When I played this with my boys there was much giggling because they could make mommy do whatever they wanted! (Now do you have that "following the leader" song stuck in your head from Disney's "Peter Pan" movie? I do.)

Classic Follow the Leader 

Everyone playing stands in a line. Whoever is in front moves around the room in whatever way they like - skipping, jumping, hopping, crawling, etc . . . Everyone in line behind them copies their movements. Change leaders after a designated amount of time. (usually shorter is better - like after 2 minutes). 

Animal Variation

This is played like classic, except the leader pretends to be an animal of their choice. When the teacher/parent gives a signal, the leader switches to a new animal. Let each child lead as 3 or 4 animals before switching leaders. You can discuss ideas before you start playing to avoid children not knowing what to do, or the parent/teacher can announce the animal the leader should move like each time, which would work well for the younger kids. Some good animals to use would be: elephant, monkey, lion, frog, bear, horse, rat, bird, etc . .

"What are you stepping in?" Variation

Christopher about to dive into the swimming pool he's pretending to walk through

I couldn't come up with a good name for this variation. What I'm trying to say is that the leader pretends to be moving on or through different types of ground, ie. walking on sand, grass, water, mud, glue,  snow, hot lava, peanut butter, ice cream, egg shells, etc . . . Whatever the children can imagine. As with the animal variation, discuss ideas before play begins, and give the leader suggestions if they're unable to come up with an idea of their own. Kids love imagining what they're moving through, but don't be surprised if the group doesn't stay in a line. It's fine to just let them all move individually as they would imagine. The leader can be the one to choose what they're moving through.

Train/Snake Variation

Have the kids put their hands on one another's shoulders. The person in front is the "Train Conductor" or the Snake's head. Let them lead the kids around the room for a while, then switch.

Mirror Variation

Ha! Christopher's face in this one just makes me laugh

This is not played in a line, but is still a "Follow the Leader" type game. Each person needs a partner (or it can be done in a group of 3, but 2 works best). One child is the leader, the other pretends to be their mirror reflection. Facing each other, the leader slowly moves his body - lifting an arm, moving a leg, turning a head, or even making silly faces while the child who is the mirror copies. To explain the game to Nathan, I reminded him of the scene in "Muppets Most Wanted" where Kermit is pretending to be Constantine's reflection in a mirror so he won't discover him. We love that movie! Make sure the children know to move slowly so the mirror child can keep up. After a while, switch who leads and who mirrors. This game is too difficult for toddlers, but preschoolers love it. Nathan (5) needed help moving slowly, so I went first and modeled how. This was good for helping him learn to control his body. 

Bean Bag Variation

To make "follow the leader" more challenging for older kids, give everyone in the line a Bean Bag (or small stuffed animal) to put on their head. As they follow the leader they have to try and keep it balanced on their head, or elbow, or back, or shoulder, etc . . . The kids really liked this version! They wanted whoever dropped their bean bag to be "out", but I told them this time we were just playing for fun. If they wanted to play that way later, it was fine by me. 

Obstacle Course Variation

If you're playing follow the leader in a large space you can set up a sort of obstacle course for the line of kids. We put out an old board to walk on like a balance beam, chairs to move around, used a table to crawl under, and a pillow to hop over. If the leader is old enough, they can be the one to design the obstacle course. For younger kids, just put out some different options, show how they can be used, and let the child lead. They may just want to hop over the pillow over and over and over again. And that's okay. As with other variations, set a specific time limit for each leaders' turn to avoid shouts of unfairness in turn time. If you have the resources, there are some fun movement toys that would be great for an obstacle course. These are some I have my eye on: a tunnel to crawl through, Curve-A-Beam to balance on, Gonge Riverstones to walk across, Activity Cones to run around, and a Tumbling Mat to roll on. The kids would have so much fun with those! (or at least I would)

Freeze Dance Variation

Play "Follow the Leader" to music. Instead of playing in a line, have the leader out in front facing the group. The parent (or leader if the kids are older) can be in charge of pausing the music to make everyone "freeze" occasionally. Watching kids try to dance like the leader child is dancing is pretty funny. And mommy dancing in front of all the kids is even funnier. Good times.  

I hope this post has given you some ideas of ways to keep your children active indoors! This post is part of the Gross Motor Activities from A to Z blog hop. Our letter is "F", for Following the Leader.

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1 comment:

  1. Great idea! My two kiddos will love taking turns being the leader!


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