As the weather gets colder, most adults want to curl up under a blanket and hibernate. Children’s energy levels, on the other hand, seem to go up as the temperature goes down! Playing “skittles” (made from empty coke bottles, milk bottles, toilet roll inners, plastic cups, etc) is a wonderful way of using up energy while helping children to learn plenty of new skills. The children can also build elaborate structures with the “skittles” before knocking them down.
This type of activity helps to develop proprioception, which is the awareness of our body position or a sense of how our limbs are oriented in space. Parts of our muscles and joints sense the position of our bodies and send these messages to our brain. We depend on this information to know exactly where our body parts are and to plan our movements. When our proprioceptive sense works well, we make continual adjustments in our position, which helps us to stay in an optimal position in a chair; to hold utensils such as a pen or fork in the right way; to judge how to maneuver through space so that we don’t run into things; to plan how much pressure to exert so we don’t break a pencil or hurt an animal; and to change actions that were not successful, such as throwing a ball that was off target.
The children playing skittles in the picture are using a ball made from bread bags and skittles made from 2 litre milk bottles. They belong to one of the crèches that Singakwenza Education and Health is mentoring in, thanks to generous sponsorship from the N3 Toll Concession. See www.singakwenza.org for more information.