Rhythm and Movement Exercises

Rhythm and Movement for Developmental and Educational Support

Exercises for children ages 6 and above.  Please read the background information: Introduction to Neuro-Developmental Support under  Resources in the Menu bar.

Here is an introductory video to demonstrate how these work…

Materials: two bean bags per person. Website suggestions for instructions on making your own bean bags: www.kidspot.com or weefolkart.com or ask Google….

These bean bag exercises help integrate the vertical midline, promote hand-eye coordination, eye tracking, spatial orientation, rhythm, concentration, focus, language. These are key elements required for reading, writing and math. For Resources, please see a list of books and websites at the end of the article on Neuro-Developmental Support.

This set of exercises is organized into a sequence of skill development. I have divided it into five lessons for clarity’s sake, but as each child will be at a different developmental and coordination level, adjust the Lesson accordingly.
For instance, the exercises in Lesson 1 may take several sessions to master, or, the child may be ready to do Lessons 1 and 2 in the same session. If you are working with a child or youth with a developmental delay look at the page “Modifications”.
I recommend spending about 15 minutes a day or a minimum of three times per week to see progress.
If the student says that an exercise is too difficult, I agree with him that yes, it is hard but I know you can do it with practice. I am careful not to say that the exercise is easy as this may discourage him. I might remind him that if it looks easy when I do it, I have been practicing this for a long time. When something is perceived as “hard” and then the child begins to have success, his confidence level goes up. Then, later on in the series, if he is finding something very difficult you might remind him that the earlier exercises were also hard but he worked at it and now he can do those earlier ones.

I suggest that the parent/teacher learn the exercises first before presenting them to the child.
The exercises in the video are part of a program of “Educational Support” I have been offering for over ten years.

Some of the key points to keep in mind during these exercises:
– Always toss and catch the bean bag underhanded.
– Make sure the child turns the passing hand over when passing from hand to hand.
– Remind the child to look at the bean bag when tossing up and catching.

Check out the “Verses” page for more verses. You may have some you would like to add. Please feel free to share verses, or even videos of your child doing an exercise.

You will find the written Lessons below the demonstration videos.

Lesson 1

One bean bag per person:
1. Toss up and catch with two hands. Hold the bean bag in the palm of your hand. Toss it up with one hand and catch with two. Keep your eyes on the bean bag. Toss it only as high as your head to start with
– When you can catch the bean bag without dropping it five times in a row, toss it up and clap your hands once before you catch it. You can throw it higher now, but still keep your eyes on the bean bag. Do this at least five times. If you like, try clapping your hands two times before catching it. If you are working with someone who is sound-sensitive, who might recoil at the sound of clapping, you could suggest rolling the hands around each other, or touch your shoulders with your hands. Come up with a variety of different movements.

2. Pass from hand to hand: Start with the bean bag in the right (or dominant) hand, elbows at waist, both palms facing the ceiling. Slap the bean bag onto your left hand by turning your right hand over, then bring your right hand back to its place, leaving the bean bag in your left hand. Slap the bean bag back to your right hand by turning the left hand over.
The rhythm is kept by saying this verse:
Chop, chop, choppity chop.
We cut off the bottom and we cut off the top.
What we have left we will put in the pot .
Chop, chop, choppity chop.

Do the action and verse several times until the movement is smooth and rhythmical.

3. Pass bean bag around your waist: Start slowly and gradually speed up, then slow down and stop. Go the other way. Say this verse as you pass it round.

“Round and round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran.” repeating it as many times as necessary.

Homework: Try to practice at least 3 times a week for about 15 minutes each time. And then, start working on tossing the bean bag up and catching with one hand, then with the other hand. Try variations, for instance toss up and catch on the back of your hand. Toss from back of your hand to the other hand.

Since children are at different levels of movement awareness and coordination, some will want to go faster or slower through the lessons. To avoid boredom or frustration, you’ll need to judge when to move on to the next exercise or continue with the one until he/she has mastered it. Sometimes I find that if a child is not quite getting it, but appearing frustrated, I will change to something light and easy like tossing the bean bag up and seeing how many times he can clap his hands before catching it.

Lesson 2.

1. Review exercises from Lesson 1.

2. Pass from hand to hand and around behind body.
-Begin the same: Start with bean bag in right hand, both palms facing the ceiling. Slap the bean bag onto your left hand by turning your right hand over, then bring your right hand back to its place, leaving the bean bag in your left hand. Now, take that bean bag in your left hand and pass it behind your back, grasp it with your right hand and bring your right hand to your right side. Both hands should now be back in the starting position with the bean bag in your right hand with palms facing the ceiling. Repeat. Add the verse. When the rhythm and movement are in sync, start the movement pattern with the bean bag in the left hand. This time you will be passing the bean bag around your back from your right hand.

3. Toss up and catch with same hand, then with the other. Try variations from Homework.
– Variation: have a bean bag in each hand, and alternate tossing up and catching. Keep your eyes on the bean bag that is in the air. Always catch underhanded, and try to catch it just above or at waist level.

Lesson 3.

1. Review previous exercises.

2. Loop Pass
– Begin with the bean bag in the right hand, both palms facing the ceiling. Toss the bean bag up in a loop and catch with the left hand. The bean bag should go no higher than the top of your head. Toss it back to the right hand in a loop. Practice this until you can consistently catch the bean bag. Follow the bean bag with your eyes.
– Add: Pass (or slap) the bean bag across to the other hand. The sequence is: loop pass, slap across to other hand. Repeat with the verse. Then begin the pattern with the left hand: loop to the right hand, slap across to the left. ( Note: You will need to judge when it is appropriate to introduce this step. If you start before the child has some facility with the toss and catch exercise, it may become frustrating.)
– Add: loop pass, pass behind the back. Start with the bean bag in your right hand. Toss pass to left hand, pass behind your back. Bring both hands back to the starting position. The bean bag will be back in your right hand. Add the verse, “Chop, chop.” Practice several times in one direction, then change directions, starting with the bean bag in the left hand.

Lesson 4

Warm up with toss up and catch, building the number of times you can clap hands before catching. Review previous skills.
Two bean bag toss and pass. In the starting position, hold a bean bag in each hand. As you toss the bean bag from your right hand in a loop to the left, at the same time slap the bean bag from the left hand across to the right hand. Then prepare to catch the bean bag from the right hand in your left hand. Practice by starting the toss up with your dominant hand, until it feels quite comfortable. Then start the toss up from the other hand. Always catch underhand. See the video for the rhythmical element.

Lesson 5.

-Review loop and pass.
-Review two bean bag alternate toss up and catch. Keep your eyes on the bean bags.
-Review the two bean bag simultaneous toss and pass.
-Toss and pass behind your back. Again, practice starting on just one side, and change sides when you are comfortable on the first side.

Have fun! The next series of Lessons will offer some partner exercises.