The seal

Most kids have seen a seal show at a marine park or aquarium, or maybe they've actually been lucky enough to see seals in their natural habitat. Either way, use this memory or image to get the kids to stretch their abdominal muscles and increase flexibility in their spine.

To do this exercise, follow these steps:

1. Have your child lie on his belly.

2. Tell him to raise the upper body up and rest his weight on his elbows.

3. Ask him to clap and make noises like a very happy seal (see Figure 14-2).

Let your child be as loud as he wants, and reinforce making the sounds, because if your kid is barking, you know he's not holding his breath, and he's getting all the oxygen his muscles need.

4. Continue barking for about ten seconds and then lower down and pretend to be sleeping seals.

5. Repeat the stretch two or three times or as long as your child's having fun!

Figure 14-2:

Seal stretch for abdominal and spine flexibility.

Figure 14-2:

Seal stretch for abdominal and spine flexibility.

A few do's and don'ts for this exercise: I Do make the stretch fun!

I Do encourage the kids to lift as high as they can without lifting their hips off the floor. I Don't criticize.

I Don't rush — let your kids play as seals as long as they want.

The dinosaur walk

Take your kids back to dinosaur times! Ask them to imagine they are turning into a Stegosaurus — not only will they have fun, but also they'll be stretching their calves, hamstrings, back, and shoulders all at once. (You may want to show them a picture of a Stegosaurus so they know what you're talking about — a quick search on the Internet will produce all the pictures you need.)

To do this exercise, follow these steps:

1. Have your child start with his hands and feet on the floor with his bottom up high in the air (see Figure 14-3).

2. Tell your child to imagine that he's turning into a very large Stegosaurus, and ask him to walk slowly forward around the room like a big dinosaur, alternating arms and legs.

3. Tell your kid to stop because it's time to take a bite of grass or a drink from a cool pond.

As he holds this position and acts out a Stegosaurus drinking or eating, he gets a great stretch without even realizing it.

Figure 14-3:

Pretending to be a dinosaur helps kids stretch their calves, hamstrings, back, and shoulders.

Figure 14-3:

Pretending to be a dinosaur helps kids stretch their calves, hamstrings, back, and shoulders.

A few do's and don'ts for this exercise:

t Do use your imagination to really playact with the kids. t Do slow the children down if they're walking too fast.

t Do walk around the room and see if you can get the kids to lift their hips a little higher or lower their heels to the floor (this tweak helps stretch their calves and hamstrings).

t Don't criticize or give too many directions — this exercise should be fun.

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Midsection Meltdown

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