First focus on the quality of the action so that the children skip with energy, bringing the knees high in front of the body and always landing lightly on the feet. At the beginning of the year, some of the children might not have developed a skipping action. With opportunity for practice and a focus on lifting the knees high, each child will learn to skip as soon as he or she is developmentally ready.
From here, you may introduce several ideas over time:
- Add a relationship: leading and following.
- Add a change of direction: backward and forward.
- Add a relationship: changing direction with a partner.
- Add a relationship: meeting and parting.
- Add a pathway: corners.
Add a Relationship: Leading and Following
This is one of the earlier relationships that children should develop because the focus is on the action and the fact that each child is either being followed or following. It demands that the children start accommodating a partner because one child may cover more ground with each skip and lose the partner! Each child needs to experience being both leader and follower. At a later date, you may introduce changing from one role to the other without stopping. When the leader wants to become the follower, he turns around (180 degrees) and the following child responds by doing the same, thus becoming the leader. With practice, the children will learn to do this without interrupting the flow of their skipping.
Add a Change of Direction: Backward and Forward
Let the children skip forward to establish a rhythm and then try skipping backward. This is more difficult than it sounds because a young child has a high center of gravity and has difficulty with balance when moving backward. To compensate, emphasize pulling knees away from the floor and leading the action with the buttocks. Practice moving from forward into backward and backward into forward so that the children learn to make smooth transitions from one direction into another.
Add a Relationship: Changing Direction With a Partner
When the children appear to be ready, they can practice traveling backward and forward with a partner. Two children face each other fairly close together. One child starts to skip forward, causing the other to skip backward. They decide when to reverse the procedure. To avoid collisions, it helps to have all the pairs facing north and south for this at first.
Add a Relationship: Meeting and Parting
For this relationship, the partners start away from each other, skip forward to meet, then skip backward to part. An excellent piece of music for this is “Les Petites Marionettes” by Raffi.
Add a Floor Pattern: Corners
Skipping diagonally from one corner to another sounds so easy, but several factors get in the way. Young children are still developing their perception of space, and few young children skip in a straight line!