Supporting Attention, Calming and Core Muscles

Do your students have difficulty paying attention when sitting at their desks? Is it the time of day when students are ready for a change and need to turn their energy down? Have you noticed some students who have poor posture?
Consider having students spend some time on the floor, laying on their stomachs and engaging in an activity/lesson that lasts from ten to twenty minutes.

I have observed a kindergarten teacher who routinely has her students take clipboards, paper and markers after a circle time discussion and find a place in the room to lay on their tummies to draw and write. It’s consistently a quiet and focused atmosphere during that tummy time.
A third grade teacher has discovered that allowing flexibility for some students in her class, who are known to have difficulty focusing, instead of writing at their desks are able to lay on the floor on their stomachs with clipboards. The amount of work accomplished is amazing.

Engaging in an activity while on the stomach with the elbows aligned under the shoulders supporting the upper body promotes attention, calming and core muscles. This position has students working against gravity which can have a calming effect. The back muscles and the shoulders are getting a workout which helps in flexibility of the spine and promotes good posture. The distractions presented when sitting at a desk are decreased. The endurance for this position may vary among students. Poor muscle tone and strength may be observed if you see heads down or support provided more on forearms and elbows not below the shoulders after a few minutes. It may be a good idea to try an enjoyable activity such as coloring for tummy time to promote good engagement. The following activities may be considered for tummy time. If you routinely observe some students having difficulty in this position, seek the consult of an occupational therapist.

Tummy Golf
Have students in pairs or in a large enough circle being at least four feet away from each other’s faces when laying on their stomachs. Use a foam or light weight ball about the size of a softball. As a “golf club”, use paper towel tubes or plastic paddles. For the hole, use a plastic 6 inch ring from a ring toss game, or something the ball can easily roll into, and place it in the middle or between students. Students hold their tubes or paddles with both hands and gently push/putt the ball into the ring. This game increases the challenge to keep the upper body extended when both hands are holding the “golf club”. If four feet is too easy, lengthen the distance between students if you have the room.

More Tummy Time Ideas
*Building a puzzle
*Popping bubble pack
*Using Lite Brite
*Playing Connect 4
*Reading a book
*Using Tricky Fingers
*Building with small blocks

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