‘Walk this Way’ is a set of 15 circular disks, each of which shows a picture of a child and the animal with the instruction to walk or stand like a…giraffe, bear, crocodile, flamingo etc. Each disk is 30cm in diameter (about the size of an average dinner plate), has a plastic backing so they can be used outdoors and a wipeable but soft material on the picture side.
I have been using this product in my work as an Occupational Therapist for the past month and the following are my observations/ideas for using this product in schools or therapy sessions. I also took the opportunity to use it in the children’s yoga class I teach and also with my own kids and their friends to explore how it could be used for different purposes too.
I intended to use this product for children with motor skills difficulties to create obstacle courses which would develop their motor skills (balance, bilateral integration and core stability) or as part of a sensory circuit for children who need sensory breaks/regulation. However, as always, the kids had other ideas…
The first child placed the disks in a format like hopscotch. We then had to throw the bean bag and depending on which animal disk it landed on you had to move in that way across the hotchpotch to collect the bean bag. This provided both the gross motor skills and sensory regulation the child needed and worked on his hand eye coordination at trying to get the beanbag to land on a disk too. Another child had a similar idea to throw a bean bag onto the disks, but this time we had to race as the animal it landed on in a lap around the room.
During my yoga class, I used the animal disks that most resembled yoga poses so the children would have a visual cue whilst I demonstrated the pose. I also used them to warm up by placing the mats in a line and one on each mat and the children had to travel across each mat as the animal. The children suggested using them to balance on their heads when we were practising sitting still during our breathing - which I also thought was a good idea! The disks could also be used as part of a sensory story or drama activity in a group, where young children could move as the animals in the story to make it more interactive.
With my own kids, they opted for animal charades or who am I - guessing which animal disk it was by the actions or clues the others give. They also put them upside down and the child had to pick one up and then act like the animal for one minute. They also suggested having them spread out in a large hall and the teacher calling out the animal and all the children race to that animal in the way the animal moves. Or animal rounders, where the bases are the disks and you move between the bases as the animal. Alternatively, you could arrange a football match with a soft ball where the players move like the animal on the disk the captain pulls out of the bag.
‘As the children demonstrated, there are lots of different ways to use the product which is great to maintain the children’s interest with the same product over time.’
So overall, I would say that this is quite a versatile product that could be used with the whole class or individually. The children seemed liked the look and feel of the disks and the pictures and instructions are clear making it very inclusive for those with literacy difficulties or younger children. The animals chosen on the disks, incorporate a large range of poses/animal postures which, from a sensory point of view provide a great range of sensory input and develop a wide range of motor skills (balance, core stability, shoulder stability, bilateral integration etc). As the children demonstrated, there are lots of different ways to use the product which is great to maintain the children’s interest with the same product over time.
It’s always been my experience that if you let children incorporate their ideas into games, they tend to be motivated to play for longer and push themselves to keep trying even if they are finding it difficult, and that certainly was the case with the children I tried this product with. Saying that, some of their ideas (like dodgeball frisbee, or using the disks as cup holders or seats for a picnic) weren’t quite as suitable and I had to intervene!
I think this product is a useful addition to a primary school or clinic setting and would recommend it as useful for children with sensory processing difficulties or motor skills delays, but as I’ve said it can easily be used with the whole class for games during PE or even for games in an outdoor kids birthday party!
Ines Lawlor, Senior Occupational Therapist.