I have always gotten a kick out of pom-poms. But I had never thought they could help toes! Toe-ga is the best exercise/game/activity/whatever you want to call it. Is it better than all the rest, really? YES! All you gotta do is get a bag of pom-poms of varying colors and sizes and throw them in the middle of your yoga mat circle. The kids will get excited. Very excited. They love pom-poms almost as much as I do. Ask them to stay at the front of their mats. This will build excitement. Before you start, go over the rules. They’re simple:
- Shout: “Toes UP! Toes Down!” repeat 5x. The toes are all you can use to get the pom-poms back to your mat.
- Put your arms behind your back. Choose between hands holding opposite elbows or hands in Namaste behind the back.
- No fighting over the pom-poms. Give an example: “What do you do if Talia and Fredrick want the same hot pink pom-pom?” Let the children answer this one.
- If you’ve got a rowdy bunch, remind them that they do not want to push each other. None of my classes have had this issue, though, because each child is so intensely focused on securing those pom-poms in their toes that they have no time or energy to be mean.
- Key Rule: Pick UP the pom-poms with your toes. No dragging! You can hop, skip, jump, or just walk once you’ve gotten those poms in your toes.
Once you’ve gone over the rules, let the game begin! Join in if you want or just sing and shout and relish in the fun of witnessing such enjoyment! Give a countdown when you’re close to the end. If you play KAY’s “Toe-ga” song, which I highly recommend, you’ll hear Haris Lender, the singer, and creator of Kidding Around Yoga, gear up for the end of the game.
[mp3j track=”www.kiddingaroundyoga.com/mp3/samples/Toe_ga_sample.mp3″ title=”Toe-ga”] [wp_eStore_buy_now_button id=4]
As all yoga games go, this is not about winning. Kids are used to having winners and losers if you say you’re going to play a game. Instead of just saying that no one wins or everyone wins, what I like to do is instruct the kids to gather up all their collected pom-poms into a pile on their own mats and create a special creature, imaginary or real, with their pom-poms. Or maybe create something that makes them happy.
As they’re working on their Pom Art, I walk around the circle, “meditate,” and OM. I say to them that I must meditate to determine the winner of the Pom Art contest. When everyone is done, I walk around and ask what each child has created. I ask one kid to stand up and walk over to the corner of the room with me. She is going to help me announce the winner. I whisper “you’re going to shout, ‘Everyone’s the winner!’“ and then… she shouts the announcement. It’s quick. It’s easy. If a kid asks why this is so, I always share that in my Kids’ Yoga classes, we don’t compete and so there are no winners or losers.
After the first time playing Toe-ga, the children get used to making cool art creations with their pom-poms and forget about the idea of winners and losers.
Now that you’ve got the game down let’s talk about why Toe-ga is so great.
- Children will develop strength and flexibility in those tiny toes. All ten of them!
- Any age person will have a blast playing, barring little ones that will put the poms in their mouths. This means this game is wonderful for family or mixed-age classes.
- Children learn concentration and focus.
- Some children find this difficult at first since their tiny toes may not be very strong, flexible, or big. Once they do it just a few times, they will get better! It’s a major self-confidence boost.
- Coordination, strength, flexibility, awareness, art, and FUN are all wrapped up into one game. Can’t beat that.
And here are some variations that add some more zest:
- Team Toe-ga: each team (groups of children or families) lines up on a mat, and one team member goes into the pom-pom area at a time.
- The children must get the largest pom-poms first, then the mid-sized, then small. Or change it up by color!
- If you want the game to be for an individual or you want to use it in an obstacle course challenge, you can put a pile of pom-poms at one end of the mat and instruct the child to move as many pom-poms as they can to the other end of the mat.
Now go enjoy Toe-ga! You might just learn that it’s good for your toes, too.