Gymnastics gives kids the opportunity to showcase their agility, coordination, physical prowess and grace in a range of events, such as performing acrobatic skills on balance beams, bars or during floor exercises. With adult supervision and using mats, kids can play various games either to strengthen their existing gymnastic skills or develop new talents.
"Add-On" features kids mimicking others' gymnastic moves. One kid may start the game with a cartwheel; the second kid repeats the cartwheel and adds a somersault. Play continues in this manner, with each kid repeating the skills done before him and then adding his own. If kids forget moves or perform moves out of order, they exit the game. The last kid remaining wins.
Kids try maintaining balance in this game. An adult leader balances an eight-to-10-foot-long board on a couple of bricks, with kids taking turns walking across the board. The leader increases the difficulty throughout the game, such as having kids walk backwards, sideways or with eyes closed. Kids falling off the board exit the game, with the last remaining kid winning.
A leader awards blue ribbons for gymnast skills in "Body Mechanics." One at a time, kids perform a series of actions, such as hopping 10 times on one foot; jumping on and off a trampoline; jumping rope; throwing a ball in the air and turning around to catch it; or walking 10 steps backward without looking. The leader judges tasks based on factors such as agility, coordination and grace.
Kids divide into pairs, with one kid spotting the other as he performs a handstand. With a leader watching and timing handstands, the team whose players hold their handstand positions the longest wins. Alternately, kids perform various handstands, with the leader choosing the best of each type.
Larger/taller kids and smaller/shorter kids pair up for "Lovers Leap." All pairs follow a leader's commands, which may include the following: "Bunk Beds" (large kids lie flat on their back and small kids lie on top, facing their partner's feet, both kids holding up each other's feet); "Horsey on the Back" (small kids jump on large kids' backs); "Lovers Leap" (small kids jump into large kids' arms); "Santa’s Lap" (large kids kneel down with one leg out for small kids to sit on); "Turkey on the Roof" (large kids get on all fours and small kids kneel on all fours on top of large kids' backs); and "Water Under the Bridge" (small kids lie flat on their back and the large kids make a high bridge over them). Those who fail to perform a task exit the game, with the last remaining pair winning.
Kids follow a leader's "Natural Disaster" commands in this gymnastic game. Commands may include the following: "Comet," for which kids sit face down on their knees with heads tucked in; "Earthquake," in which kids sit down and bounce on the floor; "Flood," for which kids jump onto the mat like a lifeboat; and "Mudslide," in which kids lie flat on their stomach with hands above their heads. The last kid to perform the task exits the game, with play continuing until one kid remains.
Spread out to avoid collisions, kids divide into teams and cartwheel or somersault from the start line to a stop line roughly 15 to 20 feet away. Upon returning to the start line, kids tag the next person in line, who repeats the action. The first team to have all of members complete the relay wins. As a variation and depending on skill levels, kids may incorporate equipment into races, such as balance beams, bars and trampolines.
Jim Radenhausen is a freelancer who began writing professionally in 1998. A resident of Reeders, Pa., he spent over two years working at the "Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal." Radenhausen received his bachelor's degree in English/professional writing from Kutztown University in 1997.