This time of year, kids come into yoga classes with energy to spare.
A warm-up game played to the song Water Balloon by the Okee Dokee Brothers is a great way to burn off extra wiggles while encouraging kids to notice how their bodies are moving, turn on their self-control, and explore the concepts tense and relaxed.
Here’s how we play:
• First, we pretend to hold water balloons in our hands and talk about how they move and jiggle in a loose, floppy way. We stand up and practice moving our bodies that way, letting arms hang loose and allowing the torso and head plenty of give and sway.
• I tell the kids that as long as they hear the Water Balloon song playing they can run around the room (of course, be sure the running they do is safe and appropriate for the space you’re in), letting the top part of their body move like a water balloon, muscles as relaxed as possible.
• When the music stops kids run back to their mats and stand sideways, in Star Pose. They make every part of their body as tense as possible. I say something like: “Tense your feet and grab your mat with your toes! Tighten your leg muscles! Suck in your belly muscles! Arm muscles tight, tight, tight! Tight fists! And squinch up your face like you just ate 300 lemons! Hold tight for 3…2…1…”
• When the music comes back on, kids continue running around with super relaxed “water balloon bodies.”
• At the end of the song, we all return to our mats and “splat” belly down like a burst water balloon.
• Because this is a very short song, I make the running-around bursts fairly short, and we usually do the song twice in a row.
• The water balloon warm-up will leave you with happy kids laying on their bellies, breathing deeply, and usually more focused and relaxed than when you began. You’re ready to transition into a quieter, more focused game or activity.
Have fun, and prepare for many requests for this song!