Movement

I Can Brachiate...what?!

  • Time Length
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    < 1 hour

  • Mess Level
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    A Little Messy

  • Cost

    Materials or Fees

  • Difficulty
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    intermediate

bra·chi·ate
verb
  1. move by using the arms to swing from branch to branch
    “The gibbons brachiate energetically across their enclosure.”

Question and Wonder:

  • Why are they called monkey bars?
  • How do monkeys move?
  • How are you moving like a monkey on the monkey bars?
  • Have you tried the monkey bars before? Why? (You might need some help the first few times.)

Get some friends together and go to the playground. Challenge them to try the monkey bars with you. Start simple by just taking turns jumping up to grab them. Work your way up to swinging from bar to bar or rung to rung. Be sure to help each other and ask an adult for help if you need it.

Line up in order from tallest to shortest. Remember who you are next to, because you want to line up in the same order every time.

Imagine and Design:

  • Who should go first? The tallest or the shortest?
  • Who has the farthest to jump?
  • How long do you think it will take to be able to swing all the way from one end to the other?
  • Who do you think will be the fastest?
  • Do you think you will get better every time you do it? Why?
  • Are there exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles you need for the monkey bars?

Test and Discuss:

  • Once you all decide who should go first each time, everyone take turns jumping to try and grab the monkey bars. Who was successful? Is it who you predicted? Why?
  • By the end of the month, was there any change in your ability or your friends’ ability to grab the monkey bars? I wonder why?

Did you Know?

Brachiation is the activity of swinging from one arm to another on overhead equipment. It’s the motion Gibbons and Siamangs use when swinging through the trees. Gibbons and Siamangs  are actually apes (they have no tails), so they should be called ape bars, but monkey bars sounds better.

This type of movement is important for a child’s brain development because the act of swinging from one arm to the next makes the brain work the same way – left, right in an alternating pattern. Other benefits  of brachiating activities:

  • Strengthens the upper body and develops grip strength
  • Increases endurance, flexibility and general coordination
  • Promotes kinesthetic awareness and rhythmic body movement
  • Develops gross, small and fine motor skills
  • Helps develop hand-eye coordination
  • Helps develop visual perception of distance
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