One of my favorite ways to engage young children in gross motor activities and incorporate math at the same time is through the game squirrels. It is super easy to set up and the kids love it and it is great at the beginning of the school year as the theme of hibernation is very relevant to the time of the year. Another nice part of this game is that it literally could never end. If you students have energy to burn this is a great way to get them to get their exercise!
Object of the Game:
Each of the students are squirrels. They are on the hunt to gather food for the winter as it will be cold outside soon and there will not be much food! They must search far and wide throughout the field for nuts (aka, tennis balls) and bring them back to be stored for the winter (in your bucket).
Students must gather a specific number of nuts, based upon a preselected number by the teacher. This will vary depending upon your students ability. At the beginning of the year, you may only ask for two or three nuts. At the end of the year, you may ask for five or more, all depending upon how many they can carry and/or how many tennis balls you have in your collection!
When the students return the nuts you instantly throw them back out into the field where there are no children. To prevent chaos with large numbers of students it is nice to have two buckets with two adults throwing the nuts back onto the field. You can also easily assess whether or not they can identify their numbers. If students do not have enough, send them back for more! If they have too many, they must figure out how to solve their problem to get the correct number of nuts.
Playing this game on the field is much better than on the tarmac. The soft ground will help in preventing injuries. Always make sure your students look before they turn around and run into a student coming towards them.
You need a large bucket that can easily hold 40-60+ tennis balls that you can easily toss to throw the balls, but still hold on to the container.
40 to 60+ tennis balls are needed considering the number of students you have in your class. When we play, we have potentially 60 kids playing and I prefer to have enough for each kid to have several balls at the same time.
We ask for donations from our local tennis club. We have found that they are always more than willing to donate to schools to recycle old tennis balls!