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Entertaining the Young and Restless

Try some of these suggestions for teaching kids from former Inline Certification Program Director and current proud mom Kris Simeone.

3 & 4 Years

Attention spans are often very short at this age so your best bet is to keep them moving and their minds off how hot and tired they are becoming.

Gather the group in a circle and begin by singing "scissor right foot in, scissor your right foot out..." and let them shake their foot all about; end the verse with a little hop and you're onto the other side! They will be reinforcing their ability to do their heel brake stops along with increasing their agility to perform more advanced maneuvers such as the parallel turn.

These are a great trick for the timid 3 or 4 year old skater. Toss the balls out of their reach and the little skaters will have fun trying to bend down and scoop them up. This is a great way to get them motivated to move and also allows the beginning students the confidence and failing practice they need.

Singing the ABC's and counting as high as possible are additional ways to keep the mind off the matter if the skaters seem apprehensive or bored. Interaction and communication between you and the skater increases with this verbal exchange while providing additional reinforcement of basic skating, letter reciting and counting techniques.

Imaginations are running wild. Take advantage of their imagination and go on trips around the skating surface. Have them tell you where they want to go (Disney World, the circus, the museum,etc ... ) and then act like you are really there! This keeps them moving and excited about the possibility of actually being somewhere they don't get to visit all the time.

Children love stickers. While they are most often used as a reward, they can also be used as a learning tool. For example: Place a sticker on the inside of their skates. An A-frame turn can be introduced by telling them to squish their sticker on the ground to make the turn happen. Preschool age skaters often are confused about their right and left. Stickers place on hand be used to help distinguish a skater's right and left.

For those learners who are primarily visual, this will definitely aid in their understanding of the skills.

* Heel brake stops - draw a line and a stop sign. This gives them a fixed point to stop at.
* Swizzles - draw "footballs" and "lemons".
* A-frame turns - draw a train track. 

Using colored cones or other colored objects as petals, draw a stem with chalk. Ask each child to skate and stop at a particular "petal." This skill motivates them to move, reinforces their heel brake stop and increases their color recognition.

Children at this age are not usually reading, but most can recognize their names or at least the first letter. Write their names in chalk and have each skater skate to their name. This is another motivational activity to get reluctant skaters to move but also reinforces their skating and stopping skills along with letter and name recognition.

Tell the skaters a story about how there is this giant moon rock/boulder in your way and there is no way around it. To get to where you need to go (name a place) you need to push this object out of the way. As they "push" it (Arms in front with heads up) around the skating surface it continues to block their path. When telling the skaters to push, have them focus on their inside edges. A lot of stability and support can be found on a skater's inside edges - they especially come in handy for pushing a 300 ton moon rock!

Traditional Red Rover minus the closed gate and entrapment! Have the skaters form a circle and take turns having a skater to join hands with you in the middle. (Ask permission to hold skaters hand.) Call the next skater by saying "Red Rover, Red Rover let "(fill in blank)" come over. As skater approaches the middle, drop hands or let the skater dip and go under your arms.

Count the number of skaters in the class out loud. Ask certain skaters to skate to a different part of the surface. When the skater has skated away and stopped, ask the others how many are left. Also ask how many have skated away. This one is used once again for motivation. It gets them moving and helps them with their addition and subtraction skills.

Start with the heel brake stop.
Green light - skate
Yellow light - Ready position and scissor braking foot forward
Red light - light braking toe, apply pressure to brake and continue to "sit" until completely stopped. Talk about obeying traffic signals along with citing those skaters that do not stop completely.

Draw a circle on the surface. Make it large enough that all the skaters an stand around it. If you can't draw on the surface, create your own circle using the skaters as pizza crust. Determine braking foot for each skater. Tell them they need to shave some cheese on the pizza. Have the skaters perform a stationary heel brake stop toward the center of the circle to apply the cheese on the pizza. Let the skaters add their favorite topping, cut the pizza and let them have a piece!

Have the skaters form a circle with you included (instructor within the circle). Ask them if they want to blow up a balloon. Have them each through their favorite color into the middle of the circle. Stir up the colors for a rainbow colored balloon. Tell the skaters to start blowing up the balloon and show them how.(The Academy will be notified about your performance!) As the balloon is being "blown up," have the skaters step backward from an "Inverted V" position, backward swizzles or backward movement. This will give the illusion that the balloon is actually expanding. When the skaters are far enough apart, tell them you think the balloon is going to "POP!" The balloon then shrivels up and they come back together in a tighter circle and conclude by performing a heel brake stop. The skaters really seem to like this one. Once is usually not enough! Even try it with older skaters.

MICKEY MOUSE & CO plus the three R's
Cut out and laminate various pictures of popular characters, (Mickey Mouse, Barney, Big Bird), alphabet letters, numbers and colors. Tape these on to whatever is available. Ask skaters to "skate to picture of "__________." Find the color "___________." Who knows where the number "______" is? This will motivate them to move and increase their recognition of various subjects.
***Additional thought: Have them do a specific skill to a designated picture. Example: Please swizzle to (or away from) the picture of President Clinton!

5 - 8 Years

A sense of humor and keeping them guessing is the secret to your success with this age group. Keep talking down to a minimal and moving to a maximum!

Let each skater try to balance a pencil or water bottle on a clip board as they skate down the surface. The object is to get from point A to point B without losing the cargo. This exercise helps to keep their hands in front of their body, their shoulders in line and their upper body erect

Balancing quarters on top of the hands, placing a glove or scarf on top of the helmet or stickers on the wrist guards can help control out of control fly away arms and help skaters that have trouble keeping their upper torso erect.

Played like the classic "Mother May I?" They ask if they can do something, you say yes or no. If they ask to take 52 swizzles across the surface you would most likely say no, but you might say instead, take 10 swizzles into a heel brake stop.

Children love 'em! Change the formation, change the skill just use them when the kids seem bored and anxious or when you are bored and anxious.

If they don't know about these two, give them a quick update. Draw a line on the surface and explain that it is the end of a cliff. They are to skate toward the "cliff" and stop before going over the edge. If they stop before the line, they are the Road Runner. If they go "over the cliff" they are Wile E. Coyote. However, they were prepared for such a situation and therefore much smarter then the real Wile E. Coyote. At the beginning of the game, you equip them with an ACME parachute to help them if an emergency situation should arise! This game is usually a hit. No one really loses and the skaters really get into it.

Incorporate two foot turns, hockey stops, t-stops, swizzles, slaloms, etc... Relay races are a great way to end a group lessons and they help develop strong skating skills.

Give the class a skill such as stride 1, forward swizzles, backward swizzles, slalom, etc... and have them perform the skill for a designated amount of time(2 minutes seems to work) This give you the chance to see the progress of each skater while keeping the group moving. Get those heart rates up!

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