Have the children pretend they are flamingoes, and try to balance on one foot as long as possible. Now the other one. Try balancing on different body parts. Which ones are easier? Impossible? Try balancing with your eyes closed. Easy or hard?
Find an open space and twirl around and around. What happens when you stop? How do you feel? Are you able to stand up/still easily?
Let’s walk along on a low wall; a balance beam; on stepping stones; on far-apart stepping stones. Do it with your arms at your sides. Now try it with your arms stretched out on either side of you. Which is easier?
People are able to use and develop their sense of balance by combining 3 things: some tiny tubes inside their inner ears that are filled with fluid (vestibular system); seeing with their eyes and focusing on a target; and the information that our brain receives from tension in our muscles. The last two can be developed with practice. Aren’t we amazing?
Some people that have a very well developed sense of balance are gymnasts, acrobats, ballet dancers, ice skaters, construction worker on high building, and high platform divers. Why do you think these people need a strong sense of balance? Let’s try to do some of the things they do.
Astronauts have to practice in spinning simulators to develop their sense of balance before they go into space, because in space, away from the earth’s gravity, all the senses necessary for maintaining a sense of balance are disrupted.
Walk around with a book resting on your head, and try to not have it fall.
Walk from one side of the room to the other, holding a spoon with an egg (hard cooked or play egg) on it. Try it first while looking at the egg while you walk. Now try it while looking continuously at the spot where you are walking to. Which way was it easier to balance the egg?
Have a discussion about motion sickness.
Pretend you are a person who needs a strong sense of balance in their job or sport. Tell us a story about yourself.
Some people can stand or walk on their hands. Can you? Let’s try it.