If you want an amazingly simple tool for developing rhythm, fine and gross motor skills, and getting your kids moving, invest in some rhythm sticks. We bought a dozen dowels from Home Depot and use them as rhythm sticks.
Here are some exercises and activities that we do with our rhythm sticks.
Remember, active participation is best. Don't just call out orders, demonstrate what your child(ren) should be doing with the sticks! (Yes these photos are staged, which is something I rarely do. I couldn't take photos while participating.)
Start with one stick each:
- Roll the stick between each hand, first one hand at a time, rolling it between the fingers, and then in between both palms. The rolling motion should be similar to if you were trying to warm your hands.
- Balance a stick on top of the palm of your hand.
- Balance it on two fingers.
- Twirl the stick around and around by moving your wrist.
- Twirl the stick between your fingers.
- With one fist hold the stick then grab it over and under the first hand with the other hand. Switch the hand that holds the stick then repeat the over under grabbing with the other hand.
- Pass a stick around your body: behind your back, under your legs and over your head, and then make figure eight under legs by alternating which hand you grab it with.
- Have your child(ren) mimic patterns. (1-2-3-4, 1-rest-3-rest, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and, etc.) After he gets the hang of it, let your child make the patterns, then follow him.
- Hold the sticks in the palms your hands and roll them over each other.
- Use one stick like a hammer and the other like a nail, letting the second stick slip through your fist slowly. Switch hands and repeat.
- Hold one stick in the middle and hit it in different places with the other one (right and left).
- Stack the sticks one on top of the other.
- Hit them together at varying volumes.
- Discuss loud/quiet and hard/soft and fast/slow.
- Bang them on the ground like a drum. This is a favorite!
- Bang them between your legs then on either side (center, left, right). Call out patterns for your child to follow. (center, right, center, left or center, left, right, left, center, etc.)
- Criss cross your sticks. This is a VERY important activity. Crossing the mid line of your body is an important developmental skill. It aids in reading and writing and is something I do with my boys daily. (Not specifically with rhythm sticks, but we do criss cross activities with whatever motor development game we are doing.)
- Bang your sticks down low close to the ground, and bang them up high over your head.
- Bang them together on either side of your body.
- Pretend you are conducting and orchestra.
- Bang them behind your back. This takes a bit of coordination.
- Turn on some music, march around and pretend your sticks (either one or two at a time) are instruments. Blow that trumpet, beat the drum, play the flute, clarinet, saxophone, mimic a trombone, strum a violin. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
Not all ages will be able to perform each suggestion, but rhythm sticks are fun to do with a large range of ages, since there is something for everyone. If you have an older baby or toddler, give him a stick or two to bang along, taste, feel, and explore.
Two small sticks, and you can work on fine motor skills, following directions, left and right, balance, opposites, imagination, patterns, rhythms and gross motor skills all while having a whole lot of fun together.
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