This is an excerpt from Scooter Games by Tony Larson.
Adding scooter games to the physical education curriculum gives children an opportunity to engage in beneficial play. It is a chance for them to create and transform their own ideas into endless movement opportunities. Propelling a small board on wheels and controlling the speed and direction are exciting and great fun.
Playing on scooters benefits children in other ways. It can give children many opportunities to explore various ways to move their bodies. It is a wonderful way to experience free play in a nonintimidating environment while conditioning their bodies. Creative play allows for self-expression without judgment from an audience. Using scooters in groups is a simple way to develop teamwork and address the issue of good sportsmanship. Many of these activities are very short in duration and can be modified in numerous ways. Often, children look at games as having one outcome—winning. With many scooter games, the focus can be on teamwork, sportsmanship, and activities that isolate specific muscle groups to increase the strength of each child. A few of my favorite activities are Mat Trucks, Body Bowling, and The Great Chariot Scooter Race. These games are exciting to watch and fun to play. Children leave the gym talking about their experiences and expressing enthusiasm for playing more scooter games.
Scooter activities offer movement challenges that enhance development in these areas:
- Physical development
- Social and emotional development
- Cognitive development
As children play on scooters, their increased physical activity contributes to the development of their gross and fine motor skills, refining and developing muscular strength in their upper and lower bodies. In addition, scooter play helps develop balance. This improved physical condition leads to improved self-confidence. In societies where children are pressured to succeed in all areas, confidence and competence are essential (Berk, 2002; Fromberg, 2002; Frost et al., 2001; Holmes & Geiger, 2002; McCune & Zanes, 2001; Murata & Maeda, 2002; Santrock, 2003). Success in scooter games, with their simple activities and attainable goals, builds children’s sense of competence and helps them feel better about themselves.
Children are motivated by energizing activities and experience a higher level of accomplishment when they are successful. Scooter tag activities and relays keep students involved and create various levels of work intensity. Scooter team games encourage team play, which focuses on motor skills and enhances communication and sportsmanship. Scooter games help children develop an active identity that allows them to understand the value of physical activity.
Social and Emotional Development
Children have a basic need to contribute to a group and be accepted by their peers. Scooter activities offer children many opportunities to work in groups and learn how to communicate and solve problems. As they play, children can compare themselves with their peers and discover both their differences and similarities. Cooperative play also instills sensitivity to others’ needs and values. Working cooperatively can provide situations that require self-control and emotional management. Cooperative scooter exploration offers independent and interesting challenges that can help children become flexible thinkers. The individuals can relate with others through movement, which helps them recognize their own and others’ talents.
Scooter play can help children develop empathy. For instance, children don’t always have the patience to work longer than their classmates to complete a task; they want instant gratification. Using scooters to mimic wheelchairs could provide an opportunity to discuss the challenges facing people who are not able to walk. At this point, a larger discussion about the frustrations that other people face daily might be possible; you could conclude the discussion by mentioning the importance of seeing things from another’s point of view.
Children like to make decisions. Through scooter play, children are given the freedom to develop and implement their ideas. A teacher doesn’t need to constantly provide instruction; children cherish the chance to think for themselves. When children are in an environment where they make their own decisions, they see themselves as capable of success. An example of children connecting their cognitive development to their gross motor skills is a rowing activity. The child pretends he is rowing, which stimulates his ability to visualize that task. It is a chance for the child to make his own decisions based on his snapshot of rowing a boat. This activity is a good introduction to developing their own creations without comparing themselves to their peers. Interdisciplinary activities, such as Money Tag, inspire many thought-provoking ideas and cognitive challenges in a physical education class. Individual scooter exploration provides opportunities for children to explore their personal capabilities and experience dramatic play, which enhances imagination and participation.
This is an excerpt from Scooter Games.