by Craig Valency, MA, CSCS

It’s one thing to recognize a shape drawn on a piece of paper, but it is another thing to draw that shape.

Now, to take it one step further, what if we were to have kids create a shape with their body? Not only are they unable to see what they are “drawing,” but they now must direct their limbs, torso, and head to coordinate, move, and hold a specific pose.

While at face value it might seem that having a child make their body into a triangle is easy, it really tests a child’s preconceived notion of where they think their body is in space versus where it actually is.

Kids will look around and see different interpretations, and we will see how aware each child is of their body in space. With this information we can better tell what kids will need to work on just to be proficient in the language of movement.

If a child simply doesn’t know what a rectangle is, for example, this then becomes a great way to increase cognitive learning. When playing Body Shapes with kids we can guide them by telling them a triangle has 3 sides and a wider base, but we should not correct too much. We want kids to explore movement and figure some things out, not feel that they got a geometry question wrong!

Doing body shapes can be a challenge so a great way to get kids to create variety in movement and improve body awareness is to start with movement variables. These are simply ways to tweak a common movement, such as a skip or crawl, by changing the shapes, space, effort, or relationships of various body parts. For example, kids could be instructed to crawl with their legs wide, while moving in a zig zag pattern, at a slow speed (for a free complete movement variable chart click here).

Try Body Shapes with your kids and you will be amazed at how it gets them moving and thinking. You’ll learn a lot about how they can move and they’ll have fun figuring out new ways to move their bodies.

We would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and let us know some of the fun shapes your kids made and how they did with it.


Age: 5+

Total time: 1-2 minutes

Equipment: None

Group size: Any

Set up: None necessary

Fitness component: Awareness/Coordination

  1. Arrange children randomly in the space.
  2. Instruct them to make their body into various shapes, such as a round shape, a triangle shape, a twisted shape, etc.


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