Becoming Animals is one of our favorite lessons because this activity helps kids develop their strength and endurance while using a fun and creative approach. We introduce a series of locomotor movements that imitate the way animals move so that it doesn’t feel like “exercise” or “hard work” but rather something silly and imaginative that connects them to nature while indoors.
First we ask the kids to demonstrate their own interpretations of how different animals move — i.e. How does a seal move across the sand? — and then we demonstrate for them our interpretation and choose one for the group to use. There is no ONE WAY to do the movements as long as the kids feel physically challenged by the movement, so whatever interpretation comes up in your house, that is the right interpretation. After you’ve gone through all of the animal movements listed below, you will take the activity to the next level by reading to your kids a story that incorporates all the different animal movements. Each time you mention an animal, the players need to do its movement until the next animal is read aloud in the story and they switch to that animal’s action.
Once you’ve modeled for the kids how to tie all the actions together in a story (or you can use the one we’ve written below), then send your kids to write OR draw their own stories for the group, filled with different animal movements to share with the group (this activity is great for kids as young as 4.) The more creative and unusual the story, the better because laughter and silliness adds to the enjoyment! And if you or your kids come up with new animal movements to incorporate into the stories, that’s great, just remind them to teach the group how to do that particular movement before they begin reading. Kids feel amazing when they get to be the experts and adults are the students, so adults, if you are able, participate in re-enacting the stories your kids have written after they’ve re-enacted your stories!
Seal Crawl: starting in a push-up position, relax the lower body dropping feet and ankles flush with the floor, moving your body forward with the arms straight, taking small movements forward and dragging the lower body behind.
Mule Kick: start in a standing position, bent forward at the waist with the hands on the floor in front of the legs. Shift body weight to hands while kicking out with the legs behind while the weight is supported momentarily by the arms. Don’t worry about the height of the kick — focus on shifting weight from legs to hands.
Frog Jump: assume a squat position with hands slightly in front of the feet, jump forward landing simultaneously with the hand and feet… distance of the jump can vary, no problem if you don’t go very far!
Measuring Worm: from a push-up position with the knees straight, begin to inch the knees as close to the hands as possible, and then inch the hands forward again to regain push-up position and repeat having the knees move closer the hangs.
Bear Amble: bend forward in an upside down “V” position with palms and soles of the feet on the floor, begin moving forward with the arm and leg on the SAME SIDE of the body moving together and then move the other side.
Crab Scurry: squat down into a crouch and then reach behind you placing hands palm side down on ground without sitting down. While keeping tush up high, not touching the floor, use hands and feet to move forward.
Turtle Shuffle: with feet and hands placed widely apart in a push-up position, walk in any direction while keeping body upright.
A girl runs toward the ocean and sees a crab scurrying its way out of the sand. She hears a bark behind her and is surprised to see a seal crawling past. From a distance she notices a frog jumping enthusiastically toward a pool of clear water, splashing the slowly moving turtle shuffling towards a bush. She sits under a shady tree to take a break and sees the measuring worm working its way up a tree branch above her. Just then a mule wanders past and suddenly does a big mule kick. The girl is surprised by the mule kick but realizes that the mule was shocked because he saw a bear ambling towards the garbage nearby. The girl decides it is time to run home!!!
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