Puzzle Shuttle Run

The physical therapist who I work with told me that she had done a “shuttle run” with one of her kids — a timed activity or race where you must grab an object from one marked line and carry it down to the end zone, drop it off, then quickly run back and grab the next object, etc. I remember we used to do this in PE when I was a kid. Now, as an adult, I can see how it would work on quickly reacting, reversing body position, inhibiting movement, planning what movement needs to come next…and giving quick vestibular (inner ear) input to a body. Maybe even proprioceptive (deep pressure, inner body sense) input too, since when bodies run, their feet hit the floor and get stronger, more jarring impacts than when they walk.

Anyway, I could think of lots of good things about an activity like this and so when I found a fun foam puzzle while I was unpacking I had a flash of inspiration. I set up the outer foam puzzle pieces at one end of the open, running area. I set up all the inner, individual puzzle pieces at the other end and made a tape line. Then it became a race with an added element of visual scanning and visual discrimination. Because now you have to grab a puzzle piece, run down, look for its cutout/silhouette, and then smash it into place before you run back!

It’s also a race against oneself, which is my favorite kind of competition if I can swing it in a therapy session. It greatly reduces the feeling of fear of loss, which there often is for children in winning/losing games. Since fear doesn’t make anybody a better learner, I like to reduce it in my work whenever I possibly can. Instead, if the kids just want to grab and run for the fun of it, I’m all for that. If they want to grab and run and me time them on my phone and then tell them some amount of seconds and cheer for them about it, I’m all for that, too.

[Image descriptions:
The first image shows a tape line on the floor next to a stack of foam pieces that are various shapes — a plane, a car, an elephant, a crab, a fish, etc. In the distance are the foam outlines that have a silhouette cutout to accept each shape, to complete the puzzle.
The second image shows my written instructions sheet that is taped to the ground beside the game. It reads, “Take a puzzle piece and run to the finish line. Find where it goes! Run back! Do all 11 pieces as fast as you can! What is your speed record?”
The third image shows the puzzle outlines, with their central silhouette piece missing, up closer.
End description.]