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Mini Tramp In Class

Here is a letter from a concerned elementary school counselor and a response from an experienced Kindergarten teacher using a mini-trampoline in her classroom. Read on to see how the techniques in Terrific Tools for Teachers works. Then buy the DVD for your school here.

I purchased the new Terrific Tools for Teachers DVD. I am an Elementary School Counselor and I took the tools back to my school and my Principal has “bought in” to using the check, crisscross and shift as well as buying mini-trampolines for the kinder classrooms. But, the kinder teachers are nervous about having mini-trampolines in the classroom. They fear students are going to want to be on them all the time and that they are going to get hurt. One of the classrooms has several students (8 out of 24) who are “out of control” in their behaviors and she in particular is nervous that the kids are going to get hurt on it even with a para assisting. What type of trampolines are recommended (ie does it have a safety net around it or safety bar? Would you share specific rules around trampoline use? etc.) I really want this to be successful. Sincerely, Kendra, an Awesome School Counselor from WA

Good evening Kendra,

I am Wendy Pletz a Kindergarten teacher from Canada. I have used this program very successfully with challenging students for three years. It works! I am so glad your Principal has bought into this program. Hopefully, you will start seeing some changes with your students soon. Here are a few tips to pass on to your Kindergarten teachers.

Before I introduce the trampoline in the fall, I make sure my expectations are very clear. I talk to the kids about what good listening looks like (eyes looking, ears listening, mouth closed, body still, brain thinking). We practice good listening a lot. I praise the kids who are showing me good listening and ignore the ones who aren’t at the beginning. “Oh… I sure like how Chloe is showing me good listening!!!” etc. The kids that aren’t showing good listening always shape up right away. I also teach them mouth hugs to stop blurting (one hand over their mouth and the other hand up if they want to say something). I really focus on eye contact. I make sure I say, “Good Morning… Chloe” etc, particularly for the tough kids. My expectation is that they stop and say, “Good Morning, Mrs. Pletz”, making eye contact while they are speaking. I also teach good manners right away as well… “May I please… All of this respect is laid down on the first day of school.

Also on the first day of school, I teach the kids how to do CRISSCROSS. We do it in a positive way. I talk to them about how this posture is good for the brain, and how it helps them calm down when they are feeling hyper. We practice that for a couple of days before I bring the mini-tramp out. For your Kindergarten teacher, since she is upping the expectations at this point in the year, I would have her sit her kids down and re-explain her expectations, and then make sure she follows through EVERY SINGLE TIME. If she has an assistant in the room, have her work with the kids that need to go do Crisscross. For the kids that are, “Out of control”, I would probably start by pulling them out as soon as they blurt, poke, kick, talk to their neighbor etc. and have them do a CRISSCROSS away from the group, but not out of the room. Have the kids think about what happened, and figure out what they are going to do to fix it. Then make sure they follow through with the restitution at a time that would normally be theirs… recess, playtime or another break.

So to introduce the mini-tramp, I pull it out at Playtime. I let the kids know how to use it. Two feet jumping, no jumping on and off, one child at a time, stay in the middle, kids who are waiting need to be sitting in a line on the floor, nobody touches the child who is jumping. I teach them how to stop jumping… this is not nearly as hard as on a real trampoline! Then, I have the kids take turns on it if they choose. The first child in the line is responsible to turn over a 1 minute sand timer. When the time is up, the child gets off the tramp and it is the next child’s turn. I often will have the balance board or another gross motor type activity out at the same time. I usually put these in the hall and supervise the play closely making sure the rules are being followed. If there is any nonsense at all, I take them to do Crisscross. The kids learn pretty quickly that they can’t push, jump on and off, etc. I have had several kids over the last few years with gross motor issues. I have never had anyone get hurt on the mini-tramp. There simply isn’t that much spring in them. The tramp sits about 3-4 inches off the floor, so if they fall off, they are not going to hurt themselves. Nancy talks about putting the tramp in the corner and having a child with coordination issues hold a chair for balance. The boy I spoke of at the conference, Shaun, started off at the beginning of the year only able to jump 4 or 5 jumps independently. He is now able to jump for at least 5 minutes without any issues at all. I usually make sure the tramp is set up in an area clear of tables, chairs or counters, so that if the child falls off, he doesn’t hit anything. At the beginning of the year, my kids with coordination issues jump and sometimes fall off, but they always land on their feet. Pretty soon, they don’t fall off anymore.

As for the kids all wanting to be on it all the time… it just isn’t that much fun!!! As I talked about at the conference, if the Kindergarten teacher incorporates lots of rhythmic, repetitive, relational, relevant, repetitive, respectful activities whenever she sees that 2 or 3 kids are getting antsy, she will cut out many of her behavioral issues. Get the kids moving, singing and jumping and the kids won’t feel the need to be on the mini-tramp. I don’t make the tramp a big deal… it is just another way for us to get focused. I do make it available for anyone who wants to use it during playtime. I have had the tramp in my room for three years and have never really felt the kids were misbehaving on purpose just to get on the tramp. Remember, if they need to go on the tramp because of behavior, there is restitution attached to that. Most kids won’t trade their personal time just for a few jumps on a tramp that isn’t even too springy.

The mini-tramps we use are just the normal ones from the local Wal-Mart, or Target. We have a store called Canadian Tire that carries them as well. It is a hardware/sporting goods type store. It does not have a net or bar attached see a picture of the mini-tramp we use. I guess what I am saying is that the mini-tramp is an important piece of this program, but the respect, eye contact, manners, and follow through with having the kids think about their actions and doing restitution to fix their mistakes is the bigger piece. We use the mini-tramp to help shift the brain from the back to the front, and to regulate the kids when they are getting de-regulated, but encourage your K teacher put all the other pieces in place too. Your K teacher could also substitute jumping jacks at the beginning until the respect etc. is in place if they feel more comfortable with that.

Good luck!!!
Wendy Pletz