Students must remember many things while doing
a sport or dancing. Remembering which muscles to move, the order
in which to move them, and coordinating muscles to move at the
right time can all be important. Having a sense of where they
are in space is another skill that can help students coordinate
their muscles when doing gross motor activities, for example,
when trying to catch a ball or keeping their balance.
Choosing and ordering actions during a sport
or dance involves problem solving strategies and an understanding
of the steps in a process. Coordinating muscles for an activity,
requires a student to use memory to remember the procedure or
steps, to have a sense of spatial location in relation to other
people or objects, and to send signals to the right muscles at
the right time.
Knowing which muscles to use and which to not
use during an activity can also be important. For example, if
a student avoids using certain muscles when coasting on a bicycle,
it is easier to maintain his or her balance. As students get older
they are able to better control muscle use, in a sense, conserving
- Help students work on athletic skills and
sub-skills by practicing the activity in a series of steps such
as first practicing kicking a ball while standing still, then
practicing walking up to the ball and kicking it, then practicing
jogging up to the ball and kicking it, etc.
- Promote gross motor abilities with games that
target specific skill areas such as balance and coordination,
spatial awareness, eye-hand coordination, body image, and body
rhythm. For example, have students act out a pretend adventure
that encompasses many body movements. Incorporate different
scenarios based on students’ interests, a thematic unit
you are studying, events in the news, etc.
- Play Simon Says, specifying different
movements for different parts of the body, e.g., Simon Says
touch your left knee with your right hand, stand on one leg,
etc. Create playful and imaginative ways to play Simon Says,
asking students to be a tree on a windy day, popcorn popping,
a person walking through mud, etc.
- Provide light weights for students to use.
Weight use may improve a student’s awareness of body and
movements by increasing the feedback received when movement
- Introduce the Mirror Game, in which
students work to mirror or exactly copy each other’s movements.
Start by having students work in pairs facing each other. Ask
one student to lead by generating movements, and the other to
mirror by following the movements exactly, so that the students
are doing the same thing at the same time. Remind students that
success in this game comes through cooperation rather than competition.