Stretching is one of the main elements of a yoga class. Beyond yoga, it is used in a dance class and other types of physical activities such as sports.
Stretching is something that is learned and with continuous practice, one can become quite flexible and agile, especially as one gets older.
However, children don't understand this concept and have limited patience with sitting still and holding a stretch. Understandable, as stretching isn't always easy to do. It is painful as your muscles and body try to grant you the ability to touch your toes or do a split. It is tedious as it does need some level of exertion and it is monotonous as, especially in yoga, you repeat and hold the same stretches several times.
It may sound like we are only pointing out the negatives, but unfortunately, these negatives are what children hold on to.
We've heard many of our students express these same sentiments in their own words, of course, and as a result, we have seen how difficult it is to follow through with planned stretching activities or sequences, especially during a yoga class. So in a bid to make our students a little more excited about stretching, we thought it would be a great idea to find a way of putting a fun twist on three different types of stretches.
Our current theme is "Carnival" and lately, we've been focused on the star musical instrument of the season - the steel pan. So we thought it would be a fun idea to combine the cardboard steelpan we made with stretching - ultimately combining music with yoga. The focus of this stretching activity is to help students remain engaged throughout a series of stretches while working on hand, eye and body coordination. In addition, this activity also teaches them about the steel pan and how it is played which is how the music element of the activity comes into play.
How did it go?
It was tremendously rewarding for both us and our students. Not only did they stay engaged throughout the entire activity, but they absolutely loved playing their steel pans and as a result, we were able to really hold the stretches longer than we would have without them and teach our students how to play the steel pan! We were also able to engage in little discussions about each stretch while holding them and explored different ranges of motion within each stretch as well. Though we did have a few students who focused more on playing with the sticks and the steel pan and not the stretching, we were still able to call their attention back to the main aspect of the activity without much problem.
One suggestion to make this activity flow smoothly would be to run through the stretches first before including the steel pan. If you hand out the steel pans first your students may just be fixated on that and not necessarily pay attention to the stretches. So once you show them what to do first (i.e the stretches) and you feel like they have a good grasp of it, then add the steel pan element to it. On another note, if you don't want to or can't make the steel pan craft then you can use something else as a substitute, something like a small hula hoop or maybe even a frisbee.
Take a look!
If you are looking for a new way to keep your students engaged during a stretching activity then we would recommend watching our video. You will see the steel pan and how we incorporated it into the activity. You will also see the stretches we used and the general flow of the activity.
Stretch It Out,
Tiva & Randa