It is important that young students learn gross motor skills such as balance, running and jumping as early as possible.
That’s why Tamarack Elementary School kindergarten teachers, MaLinda Gardner and Stacy Wilson, this week organized an “American Ninja Warrior Junior” obstacle course for students, inspired by the television show of the same title which invites contestants to compete in obstacles like a Tarzan swing, jump bars, a salmon ladder and a loading net.
Students performed a variety of tasks, such as balancing on a beam, jumping and ducking under the bars, riding a tricycle, and throwing a beanbag to hit a target.
It was all fun for the students, but it also taught them some important skills, Gardner said.
“It’s a great gross motor exercise for them,” she said. “They hit all the different marks like throwing, balancing, running and following directions.”
Throughout the obstacle course, signs were placed demonstrating a picture of the task, along with a word describing it, which was intended to help students who were confused. This provided what Gardner called a “print rich index.”
The school participates in field days and year-end drills every year, but with COVID-19 things had to be organized differently. In addition, preschool educators often have to adapt these activities to suit the age of preschool students.
Gross motor skills are a big milestone for preschoolers, Gardner said, especially for many students who live in apartments and are unable to exercise as they should.
“Things like this help them develop those gross motor skills that are important for them to develop and do certain things as they get older and older,” she said. “We also teach them to support their friends and encourage them throughout the course, as this type of teamwork is important as well. “