Two tasks, kick up and cart-wheel.
Kick-up, or handstand
Mats scattered throughout space, 1-2 children/mat. Each student uses half of the mat.
Direct students to stand behind mat, place hands flat on mat and kick up so their weight is on hands. Give students a few minutes to experiment. Kick one leg at a time, the other leg stays close to the floor. Come down from balance on feet, not knees.
Teaching Cues: Tighten your arm muscles, I equate this to when we push on the door to keep the door shut. I have them show me against wall. How do you push on a door. Tight arms, tight shoulders, forward/backward stance. Then we return to mats. Reviewing forward backward stance will help students land in the same stance. Have students attempt placing feet down softly. Again give students practice time to try kicking a little higher and holding a balance for a few seconds. I repeat the cue, “land softly”. As students start to kick higher, and balance I then instruct them that to land softly on feet, not crash down, they will need to twist a little, bringing their feet down to the side.
This lesson can be extended over a few class periods to include extending legs, stretching high.
Again mats scattered throughout space. But for this lesson I have about 7 mats folded on top of other mats, (see photo). I also have small mailboxes(see photo) scattered throughout space. These are called helper mats. Using just the helper mats I have students go through like an obstacle course. “Put hands on helper mat, kick feet over to other side.” I review the idea of “pushing on the door” (see above). I remind them that they are only going to touch their hands on helper mat and then land softly on their feet. At this point I have some students who can already do a cart-wheel. I offer to all students the option of continuing through the helper mats or moving to their own mat to work without helper mat. At this point I don’t put any emphasis on extensions, stretching or getting their hips over their hands. Any kick over a mat is a cart-wheel. Students move back and forth from working on a regular mat, to going back to the helper mat. In the next few lessons I introduce starting a cart-wheel from a forward backward stance. I have students work on extending their legs higher. Advanced students I have use helper mats and learn a one-handed cart-wheel. Next step is to try to slow cart-wheel down so there is almost a pause in the air. This requires students to have hips over hands. I have the full range of students, some still using the helper mats, some on a line on the gym floor, some off of a floor beam (really a round-off) and some on the floor beam.