Good morning! Yvonne Leialoha here again with something a bit different. You see, Tuff Spots are often associated with messy play and fine motor skill activities, but we’re gonna shake things up a bit. Today’s activity is based on gross motor skills (sometimes referred to as large motor skills). As you may have guessed, gross motor skills have to do with the larger muscles of the body, and basically the movement and coordination of those muscles. They enable actions such as running, jumping, climbing, and balance.
Today’s activities focuses on strength, balance, coordination, and motor planning (the ability to think, and act through a plan of motion).
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Here are the materials I used for our Gross Motor Ice Target Tuff Spot –
– Thick Weave non-adhesive Shelf Liner (18-20 inches x 6 feet, white): (similar to this)
– Muffin Tins (and Jelly Sheet Pans – optional) (I grabbed the cheap dollar versions at Walmart.)
– Liquid Food Coloring and Water
– Hammer ** (adult sized or short is fine) ** Note – Because we were only doing short range tapping, we felt the kids wouldn’t need safety eyewear, but if you are worried definitely have your little ones each use a pair.
I mixed up four colors – red, blue, green, and yellow, and used them to make 24 muffin ice pucks. You can’t tell too much in the photos, but the colors actually sank as the water was froze. Because we had good light though, the color still shined brightly enough to tell the colors apart. I have read that using liquid watercolors will produce perfect blocks of ice with no sinking, but just note that it would be a bigger cleanup after the watercolors melted.
I also wanted to see if using a thick weave shelf liner would give it enough friction so that the ice would not slide around as much but we found that it did not make that much of a difference once the ice started melting. It was however a nice contrast, making the colors pop. I would purposely use it again whenever we decide to do another ice activity. It also protected the tuff spot from the hammer.
For this activity, we had close adult supervision and the following ground rules:
– Both hands on the hammer at all times when tapping on the ice.
– No reaching into the tray when someone is using the hammer.
– No raising the hammer high or attempting to smash the ice with full force.
It took a few minutes for the kids each to get a good grip on the hammer so that they could not just hold it but tap effectively with it as well. Figuring this part out in itself is great use and practice of gross motor skills!
The kids then would try and tap the ice once or twice to see if they could get hit their targets. Once they had some practice, then we encouraged them to see how much they could tap the same target in a row. My daughter was able to get to 20 before she stopped counting, simply because she was excited. We encouraged them to try and follow the ice targets if they slipped around. My daughter tried to follow it while my son prefered to stop, put the ice piece back into place and try again. They became even more excited as the ice melted and pieces would occasionally break off or apart. It made them feel strong. We even got an arm flex out of our son!
After a bit the hammer was put aside and I brought two of the muffin tins back in and we practiced tossing ice pieces into the tins. It took a bit of showing by example for my son to toss it rather than throw it but he caught on pretty quickly. They were both excited again seeing that they could get the ice back into the tin!
Finally, we decided to try and see if they could toss the smaller ice pieces up straight into the air and follow it, then see if they could even catch it. We already knew they most likely wouldn’t be able to catch them, but they really had fun trying! They had so much fun with the activities that they were really disappointed when it was over.
Gross motor skills used and practiced in this activity include, but are not limited to:
– Arm strength, coordination, and balance through holding the hammer properly as well as bringing the hammer up and down in a tapping motion.
– Motor planning by thinking which color they wanted to hit and then following through to hit the target. Planning also came into play as they followed through tossing ice pieces into their intended tins.
– Jumping up and down, clapping hands, and even flexing when excited.
– Using proper muscle movement to ensure ice pieces were being tossed lightly underhand into the tins, or straight up into the air.
I think this will be a favorite for many kids, especially those who love either water play or those who love whack-a-mole arcade type games. (Just remember, close supervision when the hammer is being used is highly suggested.)
At the time of this activity, my ice breakers – Miss K and Mr. O, were 5 and 3.
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Yvonne Leialoha is an introverted night owl, and a perfectly imperfect mother of two. Along with with being way too over-excited about creating scenes and sensory play for the Tuff Spot, she loves playing with her food (and then photographing it for good measure). She has an incredible knack for adding new and creative ideas to an already infinitely long to-do list.