In each article of this series, few different ways of playing with a toy will be discussed. Let’s begin to explore the games and enjoy ourselves!
This article explores play with the ever-green Hula Hoop.
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Hula hoops are easily available at any toy shop. They can be of varying sizes (generally adult or kid sizes), colors (the sparkly multicolored ones are the most fun), some are detachable (this may, however, make it a little flimsy) while others are not, few make sounds (the soft jingling ones, can be quite soothing!) or may have light emitting from them!
Hula hoops are originally played to sway around the hips or other body parts (once you get better with the game!). It’s fun to do it along with music or play competitive games to see who rotates the hula hoop the most number of times.
Let’s look at some other games we can play with this item and dive right into the fun:
1. Jump within. This game needs four or five hula hoops. Place them on the floor next to each other. The child is required to jump from one hoop to the other. It can be made more interesting by getting the child to jump in different ways – first with both feet, then with one foot. Later the child can be asked to jump like a frog etc.
Numbering each hula hoop and playing can make the game more competitive. Get the child to jump to a specific number. The adult or another child should be able to reach the same number or further.
This game builds great motor skills, while also pushing concepts of number and social play skills (including competitive skills).
2. Obstacle course. Using hula hoops as a part of an obstacle course is rather fun. You can use chairs, sofa cushions, small mats for the child to step on or crawl under. The hula hoops can be placed vertically so that the child can walk through. The child should be told to go through without touching the hula hoop! That makes it a tad bit tougher. Build a lot of motor, sequencing and planning skills through this simple game of obstacles!
3. Aim and win: Suspend 4 to 5 hoola hoops in the air, horizontally. Tying them together with cable ties or thick thread would make them sturdier while playing. Take 5 to 6 small balls (tennis ball is the best size) for this game. Each player needs to aim the ball into the hula hoops. Mark a distance for the player to stand and throw from. The player with most balls through the hula hoop wins. The game needs a lot of concentration, motor coordination, and motor skills.
To add a little more fun, number the hula hoops. Points for each player are counted based on the number the ball was thrown in. E.g. If the child threw the ball in the hoola hoop numbered 2,3 and 5. His points are 2+3+5=10. This makes the game more competitive while understanding concepts of numbers and more or less!
4. Let’s crawl. Let’s make a tunnel by using three hula hoops and a bedsheet. Fold the bedsheet in a half and place it over the (vertical) hoola hoops. Fasten the bedsheet to the hula hoops with tape or few stitches. The bottom half would not be covered.
This can be rested on chairs are played indoors or played outdoors by wedging the hoola hoop in sand.
A lot of fun while building coordination, concepts of in and out or by making this part of an obstacle course!
5. Tick, tock. The hula hoop can be used like a pretend clock. Use chalk on a floor and mark the numbers of the clock within the hula hoop. Use fun toys as the minute and hand needles e.g. crocodiles or cars. Talk to the child about time and move the needs (i.e. toys) accordingly. A fun way to teach time concept.
6. Dance with me. Use the hula hoop as a prop for dancing. Great way to get the child to sequence actions, use motor coordination well, follow instructions while having fun! Use simple tunes at first with simple actions with the hula hoop, for example, swaying right and left with the hula hoop, when its held together by the child and adult. Independent actions can be added over time, more sequenced movements can also be coordinated as the child gets more confident with his / her skills.
7. It’s a goal. The hula hoops can easily become goal posts while playing a friendly game of soccer. Vertically lodge a hula hoop in sand. Use a soccer ball and get the child to aim at the goal. Animated excitement is called for when a goal is scored! A fun way to build attention, motor skills, and motor coordination. Add a lot of commentary and make it a language rich game too.
Hope you’ve enjoyed the ideas. Give us feedback. We would love to hear from you!
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