There is much more to organizing the brain than just creeping and crawling. Yet, these movements are definitely part of the whole process. So it’s good to know that there are endless ways to organize the brain while having a good time.
Here are some creative ideas that Brain Highways parents have shared with us. Enjoy.
Michelle Jackson Cooper
My son invented the “Nathan’s Aim and Fire Creeping Game.” He hangs a Nerf target on our door at the end of his creeping lane and lays a Nerf gun on the floor at the other end of the creeping lane. He creeps to the Nerf gun, and then fires a shot. If he hits the target, he creeps a lap back and forth to the gun again. If he misses the target, he does a few vestibular activities first, and then creeps again. He likes to see how many “hits” he can get in his creeping timeslot.
Roll a set of dice and add the numbers. If it is an even number, you creep. If odd, you crawl. Depending on how challenging you want it to be, use 1 to 4 dice at a time.
Many times we have used a deck of cards to help chose between creep and crawl — black for creep and red for crawl.
A lot of times, it is math homework or online reading quizzes at the end of creep/crawl lanes. Saved a lot of precious time!
For the artist in all of us, our daughter puts a large sheet of paper on the ground and starts a drawing, adding a little to it each time she turns the end. Another favorite is playing hangman with spelling words. For other card game ideas, we’ve done concentration and addition war.
For the young boys (ages 3 to 5), in between creeping sessions, we sword fight using toy light sabers and keep our son’s mind awake by having him spin both directions while “fighting.” Great fun to keep his creeping going, as well as a good proprioception/vestibular exercise
For young ones (ages 3 to 5), we use activity type books (like Highlights magazine) and have our son do parts of an activity after a complete creeping lap. This keeps him engaged.
I hide gold treasure pieces around the house. When they find one, they put it in a little bag tied around their necks so they can keep crawling and find more. And when they venture into another room, I hide more pieces while they’re not looking (leprechauns are supposed to be tricky, right?)
Jennevieve Luther LaHaye
While we creep we like to read stories, play games like bingo, war, Battleship, and listen to music.
Tracy Keller Bremmer
At the end of each creeping “lap,” my daughter gets a penny for payment. She has to do a minimum of 40 laps (each lap is about 50 seconds). At the end of her session, she is able to go shopping at her creeping store, where we have little prizes that range in “price” from 40 to 80 pennies. She gets to count out her money and either buy something or save up for a bigger prize. These past two weeks, we did a “100 Penny Prize” if she did 100 laps in one day, and she won her prize today!
The child creeps as she makes a craft of her choosing, doing one piece at a time. I call it crafty creeping!
One of our favorite things to do is go to an athletic center, rent a racquetball court and do our creeping and crawling. Once we have done/ worked hard there, we play/honor them by a round of dodgeball or some type of game. They love it because it’s different, and they have something to look forward to.
Lisa Moerner Paul
Our newest floor time adventure is……BINGO! The boys are loving it, and the time is racing by. Earning money while wrapping myelin rocks!!!!!!
Claudia Lucia McKinney
We play a version of operator. The kids start at one end of the house and their dad gives them a funny phrase or word. They creep to me at the other end of the house, repeat the word, and then I give them a new funny word or phrase. Then they creep back to dad. Sometimes the words or phrases build upon each other to make a funny story or paragraph.
When I do Brain Highways I ALWAYS listen to music. I’ve downloaded like 20 new songs.
Stephanie Gagnon Walmsley
Philip and I pass the time with creeping and our “Fast Track” competition. The time just flies by…..
Diana Weinfeld Scherer
We do Mad Libs during creeping — Clay has to identify words for the different parts of speech, then enjoys a funny, silly story.
Creeping idea from Joey — “Mystery Toy:” Put a small toy or item into a paper sack and the child gets one clue per creeping/crawling lap that describes what is inside. After three clues and laps, the child gets one guess per lap until he or she gets it.
Creeping idea from Lucas — The child gets to use their finger strength to attach one clothespin per lap onto a checker. After 3 clothespins and laps, the child can spin the checker and see how long it can keep spinning during the subsequent lap(s).
Use play dough and try to create a character of yours. Write a sentence about an animal/person you think is fun or funny!!
Dana Frankel Mauro
Uno and Go Fish have been popular at our house lately! Annelise also made concentration cards with her addition math facts through 20 since she needs to memorize these by the end of the school year. I also bought the little mini peanut butter eggs to hide around the house, and she has to crawl to look for them. We have a little bag around her neck for her egg collection!
My boys are loving making paper airplanes. I bought them a book, and they are allowed to do one or two folds at the end of each lane. We now have several bags full of paper airplanes. At the end of the week, they test fly them and only keep their favorites (and we reuse the paper from the ones they don’t want to keep).
Stephanie Knight Scarato
My kids came up with “trick or treat” eggs. Fill plastic eggs with various treats and tricks. Treat eggs could have coins, pieces of candy, etc. Trick eggs could have you stand up and do 10 jumping jacks, an empty wrapper or a quick chore. Put all the eggs in a basket and open one for each lap you creep. One egg could have a grand prize in it, like $5 or a movie ticket.
I also use regular white paper and draw a shape on it. It might be a large or small triangle, a circle, long rectangle, squiggly lines, etc. My kids look at the shape and creep. While they creep, they think about what to add on to the shape to make a picture. They draw for about 10 seconds and then creep again. They keep adding on to the shape as much as they want. When finished with that picture, they get another shape.
We do our version of scratch and wins or hidden messages. I draw circles on white paper, use a white crayon to write something inside the circle — letters that spell words, monetary values, shapes for a match game etc. Then when you color in the circle after each lap with a felt pen (darker colors work best), the picture is revealed. Both boys love this and there are endless games you can come up with.
Challenges are really just opportunities to learn. With that mindset, we embrace struggles rather than fear them.
What do I mean? Well, suppose a child has Tourette’s Syndrome, which is characterized by uncontrollable sounds (e.g. coughing) or movement (e.g. facial twitching) which are called tics.
Okay, you may be thinking: What could possibly be the upside of that? After all, kids are just going to make fun of that child.
And you’re correct . . . there’s a high probability that child will be ridiculed at one time or another.
But while we can’t control whether our child has tics or how others treat him when they appear, we do have the power in how we teach our child to respond—and how we then respond, in kind. Those are the gifts that are waiting to be unwrapped.
For example, if our child has Tourette’s Syndrome, we can teach him to answer in a way that empowers him and leaves no room for feeling like a victim. Such a response might be, “My twitches are just a tiny, tiny part of all of me. How can I help you see all the rest of me?”
We can teach our child to appreciate and value friends who see beyond a physical impairment.
We can create opportunities where our child befriends another child with a different kind of disability, giving our child the chance to be the one who models recognizing and honoring the core of that person.
We can teach our child that another person can only hurt us to the degree that we allow.
We can model an attitude that reflects a sincere belief that challenges are opportunities to learn, reflect, and build character. Consider how that greatly contrasts with our modeling endless worry over how our child is going to feel if the dreaded scenario ever happens.
In short, worrying only amplifies a feeling of helplessness. If it actually influenced a positive outcome, then sure, we should worry all day long. But it doesn’t. It just creates more angst. In fact, the movie star Michael J. Fox says he never worries for one main reason: If the bad “thing” eventually happened, then he will have lived through whatever he dreaded twice.
So, yes, there are going to be challenges in all of our lives. Count on it. But when such struggles arrive on our doorstep, why not teach our children to ask: What gifts are wrapped inside this challenge?
The Dalai Lama recently visited San Diego, and he impressed every reporter who wrote about him.
And yet, when I read what the reporters admired, I couldn’t help but think . . . those very same actions are truly within reach of every parent.
So what did reporters note, and what can we glean from that?
1. After every speech, the Dalai Lama took time to pay his respects to the security guards, ushers, and hotel doormen.
For parents: We can take time to acknowledge people who have helped our child in different ways.
2. He was fully present while engaged with others.
For parents: We can set aside specific time each day to interact with our kids without any technological device in sight (let alone on).
3. He respected his nailed-down precise schedule, yet he also understood the need to sometimes change plans. For example, when the Dalai Lama heard a donor who had helped to underwrite his visit was too ill to attend the panel discussion, he went to the donor’s side for a brief conversation and prayer.
For parents: We can respect family schedules, but also trust our intuition to know when changes are warranted.
4. He was never more than about 10 minutes late to an appointment the entire three, whirlwind days he was scheduled for events in San Diego.
For parents: We can model being on time, underscoring that we respect the time of others.
5. He talked about his temper (yes, the Dalai Lama says he has a temper).
For parents: We can be honest about our own short-comings and negate illusions that suggest we’re perfect.
6. He was affable, open, and spontaneous (everyone noted that is was fun to be around the Dalai Lama).
For parents: We don’t have to take everything so seriously. We, too, can be joyful!
But here’s what seemed to impress everyone the most about the Dalai Lama. He didn’t just act a certain way in front of the cameras. He was the “real deal.”
The truth is . . . our kids are kinda like our own personal reporters. They observe what we do behind the scenes and form their own conclusions.
So, here’s what could happen if we did all of the above.
The Dalai Lama makes a return visit, and reporters once again portray traits such as paying respects, adhering to schedules (while also being flexible), being forthright about shortcomings, and acting cheerful as incredible, surprising ways to act.
Yet, as the rest of the world continues to be amazed by such poise and grace, our kids scratch their heads and go, “Huh? That just sounds like how everyone acts in our house.”
And from what I’ve read about the Dalai Lama, I think that response would make him smile.
I often ask kids what they like best about school. Hands down, the most common answer is . . . recess. Intuitively, kids know what science has now proven—both kids and adults need time to engage in pointless fun.
We used to call that “playing.” Yet in our current, overzealous, gotta-make-sure-our-kids-get-ahead-world, allocating time to play is often relegated to a back burner.
However, research on play shows that it makes us more adaptable, and it actually improves how our brain functions. For example, when we combine physical energy with a sense of joyfulness (i.e. when we play), we reinforce neurohormones. And when we engage in activities that free us from having a set outcome, there’s a positive effect on our mood and perceptions of time.
In fact, according to researcher Dr. Stuart Brown, we need play in our lives as much as we need sleep.
So what is Brown’s definition of play? He says real play has no purpose. We do it for its own sake. It’s voluntary. We may even lose track of time or temporarily forget who we are in real life.
What’s the purest form of play? That’s when we improvise, where we make up whatever we’re doing as we go along.
So back to recess . . . where activities have little or no structure, where nothing is measured or ranked, where kids are free to be loud and move as quickly or slowly as they choose. Is there any surprise that kids fly out the classroom door as soon at that recess bell rings?
But then, that bring us to this question: Since playing has a natural appeal and is now proven to enhance the brain, why not create family recess time in our very own homes?
Yes, why not have the whole family take a break from household chores or homework or paying the
bills. . . to now play together?
Note this is not just time for our kids to play. The idea of family recess is for us to play with them.
And guess what happens when we do? We discover that even though we’re adults, we never really lost our zest for play.
We prove that all the time at the Brain Highways Center. Here, parents enthusiastically engage in playful activities with their kids as part of our curriculum. In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to decide who’s having more fun when observing, for example, a beanbag “fight” between a father and daughter.
So for my proposal of family recess, any unscripted, joyful movement works. Here are some ideas to get you started, but be sure to ask your kids for their input, too!
Note that family recess time is not viewed as procrastination, where everyone is just putting off what needs to be done. Rather, the mindset is one that suggests less work and more play is truly productive.
In the twenty-first century, that kind of thinking may be viewed as radical and revolutionary. But in our home, we can make such perspective a way of life.
When I watch kids at the beach, I always find myself smiling. It may be one of the few places where kids can be loud and dirty and run here and there—without adults telling them to lower their voice, wash their hands, and sit still.
So I’ve come to think of the beach as a safe haven for kids, a place where they can just naturally be their age without conforming to adult perceptions as to what is “proper.”
Camping in the woods also comes to mind as another safe haven for kids. Once again, in this environment, adults seem to “let go” of their need for quiet voices, cleanliness, and being still.
But not everyone has access to the beach or woods or, if so, there probably isn’t time to go there every day.
Yet, that doesn’t change kids’ need for daily downtime in a place where they truly can be themselves without adult restraints.
No, I’m not talking about allowing kids to run amok or do something harmful. I’m just advocating that we allow kids time each day where they go with their own flow, move at their own pace, and engage in activities that naturally appeal to them.
With that mindset, we can be creative and ensure our kids engage in daily safe haven time. So, how might we do this within our already hectic schedules?
First, we need to list our possible safe haven environments. On such a list, we may write: the park, the backyard, the bedroom, the beach.
Note that some of those possibilities include places within the confines of our own home. That then makes it easier to implement daily, rather than weekly, safe haven time. In other words, if we don’t have to do more than open a door (to go to the backyard) or close a door (to go in a bedroom) on our part, then scheduling daily safe haven time won’t be that challenging.
So, what might be some guidelines for safe haven time? Here are some suggestions:
If we do the last suggestion, we may (initially) experience that our child has no clue what to do. So, he turns to us for some ideas. If so, we say no more than, “Just go with your intuition. What sounds fun or interesting to explore?”
In such case, we may also ponder: Is our child’s life so programmed that he has lost his natural spontaneity? If so, then asking for help with safe haven time can be viewed as feedback to ensure that we implement this daily.
But more than likely, you’ll get a different response. Watch your child’s facial expression when you tell him he’s now going to have daily safe haven time, where no adults are going to be on him to do this or that. You’ll probably see a look of sheer joy.
And that expression and feeling is what we want to make sure is part of our child’s life—each and every day.