Activity 2: Lap-sit Balance Game
Activity time: 8 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Music tape or CD and music player
Preparation for Activity
- Select music. Arrange to have a music player for this activity.
Description of Activity
Ask the group if they can define the word "balance." Invite everyone try to stand on one foot. Explain that when your body is off balance, you sway to one side, and then you might sway to the other side, but balance is when you come back to center.
Gather the children standing in a circle. Ask everyone to turn one-quarter of the way to the left - you may need to demonstrate - so that they are all facing clockwise. Say:
Please take two big steps sideways, into the center of the circle. Keep moving toward the center until you are all standing very close together.
Tell the group that you are going to turn the music on and while it is playing they should walk clockwise around the circle but when they hear the music stop, they should bend their knees until they are sitting on the lap of the person behind them. Start the music. After 30 seconds, stop it. Help the children from outside the circle to help the group achieve balance with everyone sitting on the lap of the person behind him or her.
Once balance is achieved, have the group stand up, turn around and walk counterclockwise with the music. Again, stop the music and have everyone sit on the lap behind him or her. Keep the group in this position and ask:
- What would happen if one of you left the circle?
Allow some responses, but ask them not to move. Then ask:
- What could you do to try to maintain balance?
After they've answered the question briefly, invite one child to slowly, carefully remove himself/herself from the circle, while others try to compensate and maintain balance.
If necessary, reform the circle in lap-sitting position. Now ask:
- What would happen if more than one person left the circle?
Tell the group that you are going to go around the circle and choose people who should leave the circle slowly and carefully. Remove people, one at a time, until the whole circle has lost balance and can no longer maintain the lap-sitting circle position.
Have everyone sit down in the circle and take a few moments to discuss the experience. Ask questions such as:
- When you were sitting on laps, what helped you keep balance?
- What made it harder to stay balanced? (If people of different sizes were in the circle, include an observation about that.)
- When one person lost balance, what would happen to the circle?
Say something like:
Today we're going to talk about balance on the Earth. Nature is kind of like the circle we just made. In your circle, you were all interconnected. If one person moved it affected everyone. In nature everything is interconnected. We call that the interdependent web of all existence. When one part of nature changes, all of nature is affected and things can become unbalanced.
The goal of this activity is to give participants a hands-on, concrete experience of community-based balance. This will help them understand the notion of balance in nature later in the session. It is also a fun, group-building activity that will be beneficial to kinesthetic (movement-oriented) learners.
Including All Participants
To include a child who is in a wheelchair or has limited mobility, consider how you can keep this child safe during the activity. A child with limited mobility could have an adult leader behind him/her to help stabilize the circle and maintain safety. Another possibility is to invite the child with limited mobility to exit the circle first so that he/she will be less likely to fall as a result of the experience. A child in a wheelchair could have someone sit on her or his lap but cannot sit on the lap of the person behind him/her. He/she will have the advantage of not falling, along with the child on his/her lap. On the other hand, it will be difficult for the person behind the wheelchair to replicate the action of having another person on his/her lap, without tipping the wheelchair. Include these observations in the conversations you have about the activity. If any particular child would be unable to participate in the lap-sitting, you could ask him/her to control the music and/or to help people balance from outside of the circle.