In 2014, movement educators from mostly Waldorf and Waldorf-inspired schools came together in Santa Monica, California to explore themes related to healthy movement, child development, and ball games. Led by veteran educator Edmund Knighton, and using our knowledge of the role of movement in child development, we created three new ball games appropriate for young children, ages 4 -7. We even videoed them, but kept the videos private until now.
These new ball games are not very polished but we decided to share them anyway as they provide rich fodder to nourish our understanding of the developing child. They also include working in movement with a group of children, ball handling, imitation, imagination and delight. We hope the videos provide some inspiration and courage to you, dear teachers, to explore such games with your classes, large and small.
We worked with these key principles of movement development for young children:
- the movements arise out of an imaginative picture, story or verse
- the movements illustrate the spoken word or song and slightly precede them
- each gesture is clear and true and worthy of imitation
- there is a clear beginning and end to the game
- the action and story provide an experience of the whole group moving together, in a circle
- as children reach 6/7 years, one child can leave the circle but always returns
- there is an experience of play of lightness and heaviness, up and down, in and out
Every new ball game should tell a story. For the youngest children, take a look at Sun Ball. Slow and careful, the game progresses with simple imagery and challenges.
We love Squirrel Find Nuts, too, for slightly older ones. How do we know this? While the start of the game is in a circle, one child will leave and return again. This is a picture of the growing child, age 6/7. If everyone stayed together in the circle in a variation, this might be nice for younger ones as well.
As you observe the development of the Fireman game, you might notice how simply it begins. As it builds steam, it gets livelier and livelier, and more competitive, making it suitable for our first graders. The tune for the game and verse for the conclusion need a bit of work (maybe you can enhance them, and let us know) but demonstrate a beautiful and strong way to build and close a game, allowing it to find its qualities of breathing out and breathing in.
These new ball games are works-in-progress. We’re sharing to inspire you, dear teachers. Introduce your students, parents, and colleagues to healthy movement play with the archetype of the sun, the sphere: the ball! We encourage you to love ball play, and to guide all your students into a loving and secure relationship with its lively dynamics.
“Valerie, if I’d had you as a PE teacher in grade school I’d never have been afraid of balls,” said a young adult student this year at Meristem.
It’s never too late for us as adults to love ball games. There is a place for them in the healthy early childhood classroom and the lower grades. Bring them in a gentle way, out of an imaginative story where every movement makes sense to the cohesion of the story. In this way you may strengthen the integration of movement senses into classroom dynamics.
Want more new ball games for older children? See our 94 Best Dodgeball Games in our Store.
Coming Up: New Live Master Class Webinars in 2017
August 24 Resilience for Teachers – A Back To School Primer
September 28 Agile Aging for Every Body – Enhancing Mobility at Every Age
November 2 Roughhousing, Wrestling, and Tussling from Infancy to Age 10
Check out our short videos and Master Class downloads on our Vimeo channel.