Thursday, 10 October 2013

The BIG Gym

If you ask any of our kiddos at STA to pick what room they are going to play in, the chances are good that they will say "Big Gym!" Or, if they aren't the type to verbally request, they will emphatically point to it on one of our room visuals.

So now you may be wondering, "What makes this big gym so great?" We'll tell you... Literally, everything.
For the most part it used by the Early Intervention Therapists as an opportunity to let the kids have a little unstructured time to burn off some steam and have a break from all the hard work they do in the classrooms. When the door is closed they can run, jump, climb, tumble, peddle, and roll their sillies out.  The joke is on the kids though as every awesome addition to the gym is an opportunity for them to practice some of their developing skills.

 Our red tire swing, mounted from the ceiling and surrounded by mats is conveniently just high enough that the kids typically can't push themselves. This creates a great opportunity to ask for "push" or "spin" from one of the adults or a bigger friend. If requesting isn't enough it also teaches them about sharing and taking turns so that everyone can join in on the fun.

We have a mini trampoline that is oh so appealing for the kids that like to jump or bounce, it's also a great way to develop leg strength, balance, and coordination. In the background you'll see our colourful barrel. Standing upright it makes a cool dark hiding place, on it's side and it becomes a tunnel to crawl through or, for the risk takers, you could crawl in and request to be rolled all around the room.

Even the grownups have fun with the plasma cars. Racing is a social activity and can encourage some social interaction between peers. For the kiddos who prefer a solo drive, these little vehicles help them develop their upper body strength, grip, and balance.

Indoor hopscotch lets us practice our numbers, shapes, and colours. You could count using one to one correspondence, identify what colours you landed on, and try to jump only on circles. All these academic skills can be learned while practicing jumping on one foot, jumping with both feet, and balancing while trying to stick those landings.

The big gym almost always features an obstacle course of some kind. Mats stacked for climbing and sliding down, small cubes for long steps and balancing, and a little indoor ladder to climb up and down are featured on the current path. With so much use this tends to change quite a bit throughout the day as our kids and staff get creative to make their own challenging pathway around the room.

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