Playing with Shapes

The last couple of weeks I talked about playing with colors and why colors are an important part of development. Now I want to focus on the second tool we use for differentiation – shapes!

What You Need:
Balls, rings, dice, boxes, cones, etc.

I love playing with shapes. There are so many ways to incorporate shapes into your lesson, you just need to be a little bit creative. Actually, you don’t – that’s why I’m here!

First, I’m sure that if you teach at a therapeutic riding center, you have lots of toys that fall into different shape categories. For example, we have balls of varying size and texture, rings, foam dice, cardboard boxes, foam cards, and cones. This means that I have circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles to play with at least. Let’s go through a couple games I use to play with shapes.

Circles: This can be done with any shape, but I’m going to focus on circles. Circles are one of the most useful patterns we use with our horses and one of the most versatile shapes in terms of toys. I will spend a whole lesson (or several) just focusing on circles. This only requires one shape, so I will pull out all the toys and tools I have that are shaped like circles. This can be balls, rings, basketball hoops, and buckets. I will have riders first show me a circle with their hands or arms. Then we play with circle-shaped toys and finally, we ride a circle pattern to bring the lesson back to the horse.

Shape Sorting: This is another game I love to play. I will bring out toys of all different shapes and ask riders to sort by shape. Typically, I will use circles, squares, and triangles. Riders need to get all the circle toys to one area of the arena, all the squares to another, and so on. Rather than focus on the toy itself, riders need to focus on the shape of the toy. It challenges riders cognitively while working on riding skills of balance and steering.

Are you interested in seeing an actual lesson plan and arena diagram of the games above? Let me know in the comments below!

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