Your toddler is beginning to understand how her body works and is experimenting with different movements, including jumping, climbing and other rudimentary gymnastic movements. According to KidsHealth, introducing tumbling games in a safe environment is an ideal way to harness your toddler's natural exuberance while refining and improving her motor skills.
Teach your toddler to limber up before tumbling by performing a few basic stretches. Help your toddler stretch and reach her toes from a seated and standing position. Ask your toddler to stand up tall and reach for the stars or sun in the sky. The “butterfly” stretch works your toddler's inner thighs. With your toddler in a seated position, help her place the soles of her feet together. If your toddler is having trouble catching on, provide her with a demonstration rather than trying to verbally explain each move.
Mimic Your Toddler's Favorite Animal
Mimicking simple, recognizable animal movements can teach basic tumbling skills that she can later translate into more advanced gymnastics skills. Help your toddler to get on all fours and hop around like a rabbit. Crawl around slowly on the floor with your toddler like a bear or turtle, and pick up the pace to mimic a scurrying mouse or trotting horse. Help your toddler build her abdominals and arms by walking across the floor like a crab. To perform the crab walk, help your toddler sit down on the floor with her hands directly behind her. Help her lift her bottom off the floor and walk backwards and forwards just like a crab. If your toddler cannot balance, help her by keeping your hand behind her back while she mimics a crab exploring the ocean floor.
Homemade Tumbling Toys
Transform everyday items around your home into simple, inexpensive tumbling toys. Lay five or six pillows on the floor and allow your toddler to free play, tumble and balance on top of each. Roll up a small area rug and allow your toddler to ride it like a horse or help her lie on her belly and roll over it onto the floor. Fold your child's quilt and allow her to jump off her bed onto the soft mat. Inflate a small pool and fill it with plastic balls to create your own inexpensive indoor or outdoor ball pit. Encourage your toddler to jump, play and tumble inside.
Transform your backyard or living room into a miniature, tumbling circus. Place a piece of duct tape across a hardwood surface and show your toddler how to walk across it placing one foot in front of the other like a real balance beam. Aside from walking across the “balance beam,” encourage your child to stand on one foot, twist, jump and turn on it. Hold a plastic hoop in front of your toddler and encourage him to act like a lion jumping and tumbling through a flaming ring. Cut out colorful construction paper letters or shapes and help your toddler jump and tumble from one to the next like an acrobat.