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Garden Games For Gymnasts

Games based on gymnastics are a great way to burn off excess energy and improve gross motor and co-ordination skills.

Get outside, and start having fun with these gymnastics-inspired games and activities.

Make Your Own Balance Beam To make a balance beam you need two boxes, blocks or old tyres, and a 6 feet plank of wood. Make sure the children only used this plank for balancing on. Fancy tricks should be saved for the painted balance beam (see below)

Painted Balance Beam Top gymnasts perform crazy tricks 3 feet from the ground on balance beams. Create your own virtual balance beam by painting a long thing rectangle on the grass using non-toxic paint. Use this as a base for tricks like handstand, cartwheels or skipping along from one foot to the other. This will still improve their balance and co-ordination, while avoiding the risk of a heavy fall. A greta way to test their balance on the virtual beam is to place washing up sponges along the line at regular intervals, so they have to stand on one foot, and kick the sponge away with the other, while maintaining their balance.

Monkey Bars If your climbing frame has a set of monkey bars, these provide the perfect opportunity for some upper-body strength training. Beside swinging from one side to another, your children can practice chin-ups, seeing how many they can complete, or timing how ling they can hang in one spot for.

Hula Hoop A hula hoop is a very cheap piece of play equipment that can deliver a good workout, and plenty of opportunities for games. Practice spinning it on arms, legs, waists, rolling it across the lawn to each other, and even spinning it so it returns to the thrower.

Soft Ball A large soft ball, similar to one used in dodgeball is ideal for practicing balancing, throwing, and catching skills used in rhythmic gymnastics.

Floor Dance Remember that non-toxic paint you used earlier? Time to get it out again. Mark out a square on the grass, and dig out a portable stereo and some favourite tunes. Give your children 20 minutes to work out a floor dance routine, then let each one perform for you.

Simon Says Teach the children the names of various gymnastics poses, like bridge and splits then play a game of Simon Says, instructing them to get into various positions. They might not be able to complete the poses perfectly yet, but they will get more flexible with practice, and recognising the names of positions is just as important as being able to hold them.

Limbo Dancing You might not see this event at the Olympics but it certainly promotes flexibility. If you don't happen to have a limbo dancing frame at home, get two people to hold a rope straight across, or tie one end to the post of your swing set or climbing frame, and you hold the other end.

For more play inspiration, and ideas on how to make the most of your outdoor space, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

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