Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Cerebellum: Balance, Muscle Coordination, and Proprioception

We had a great time studying the cerebellum, which coordinates muscle movement and balance. We also learned the new word "proprioception." It refers to the body's ability to keep track of itself---to know, for example, where your arms are in physical space. (It's why you can touch your nose or your knee accurately, even when your eyes are closed.)

We also discussed other senses besides "the five senses"---things our body can sense, like gravity, motion, posture, heat, cold, pain, direction.

This post has some good ideas about activities that use balance and coordination:
Balance – You want your child to be able to balance and keep control of their body – it is key to coordination. What can you do? Spinning, bouncing, somersaults and cartwheels are great ways to develop balance. Encourage your kids to walk on curbs, on lines, balance beams and walk toe to heel and keep their balance. Standing on one leg, then hopping on one leg is also great! When they are ready for a new challenge – have them close their eyes! 
Body Awareness – It is important for children to be aware of their bodies! Kids who aren’t will bump into everything, and have poor posture. Some will pull on their clothing and even bounce on their toes when walking. How to help? When these kids are moving challenge them to move in certain ways. "Simon Says" is a great way for kids to mimic lots of movement and be aware of where their body is in space. Have kids bounce and jump while staying in one place. Hopscotch is a great way for kids to work on accurately moving their body and placing their feet.  
We did some of these same types of things---balancing on lines, walking with books on our heads, hopping, etc.
Junie and Daisy really loved doing this!

We also tried a bunch of "body illusions" (some good lists are here and here). These are really fun to try---the children LOVED them.

Our last activity was going to play at a playground and give our cerebellums a workout! :) As it was a very cold day, we did this indoors at the Carl's Jr. playground, which was extreeeeemely exciting to the children (they are always pointing it out wistfully as we drive by). We had a great time!
And this happened (Goldie wanted to get in on the climbing fun!)

Hooray for the cerebellum!


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