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skill building
photo credit: MeaningfulMama.com

Spring is here and the warm weather beckons back yard play.  Special-Ism is always seeking ideas to turn ordinary games into activities that offer skill building, therapeutic benefits – unbeknownst to the children.

Big Foot Relay was discovered by us years ago and we thought now was the perfect time to resurrect this fun skill building activity.

Big Foot Relay is a simple and fun activity for children that we extracted from the wonderfully resourceful book, Kids’ Outdoor Parties by Penny Warner. We then invited, Occupational Therapist, Lois Hickman to put her therapeutic spin on it.

The original game involves racing other children at a party while donning shoe boxes as shoes.  So, we encourage you to dig through your closets and find two shoe boxes per child.  Securely tape the lids onto the boxes and start building skills.

Skill Building Preparation

Have the kids decorate the boxes.  This is a great opportunity to throw in the benefits of at home art therapy.  Crayons and markers offer pencil grip development.  Cutting tissue or construction paper to glue to the box develops scissor skills and sensory opportunities. Painting the box with finger paint offers valuable tactile sensory input.

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After the boxes are all decorated, parents can cut a one-inch wide by four-inch slit in the top of each shoe box.  Have the kids slip their feet into the slits and let the racing begin.

Safety First

Hickman states, “To make it safer, especially for kids with coordination isms, just have one foot in the shoe box while the other foot is in a regular shoe. Consider letting the other foot go bare for additional sensory input from the grass.”

Explore More >> Long Grass and the Sensory Diet

Alternatives to the Shoe Box

Hickman suggests, “If you don’t have a shoe box handy or you have really little children, consider a tissue box.  For littlest feet, use the small vertical tissue boxes.  Also, kids love to wear adult shoes or boots.  These don’t have the potential to come apart and ruin the fun.”

Let the Game Begin

Establish a start and finish line.

Create a simple, mini obstacle course.  Perhaps there are just a few things in the way that the kids will have to run around such as a flower pot or a few yard yard toys.

For older kids, increase the challenge of the obstacle course requiring them to climb over a rock or climb through a tire swing.  You get the idea.

Create an Additional Challenge

Have kids switch the shoe box to the other foot when they reach the finish line.  After the switch, have them race back to the starting line and pass the shoe box onto the next child in line.

“No fair hopping on the un-boxed foot! That will get you disqualified!” exclaims Hickman.

As an alternative, have them race back to their team mates at the start line with the shoe box in hand.  The child passes the shoe box onto the next child in line.

This game is best if you have at least four children with two on each team.  However, you can certainly modify it in any way to suit your needs as Meaningful Mama suggests over on her blog.  Her girls simply raced around the yard.

Hidden Therapeutic Value

The box decorating.  Putting on and taking off the shoe box.  Running with the boxes on one or two feet offers valuable skill building opportunities.

The box decorating involves fine motor and sensory opportunities.  Decorating with a small group of children will offer social skill development.  “Can you please pass the glue?” “Can I use the scissors when you are done?”

Putting the boxes on and then taking them off the feet, as well as, thinking about walking with boxes on your feet enhances motor planning, body awareness and gross motor development.

If you decide to give this activity a try, snap a picture and share with us on Facebook!