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Progressive Gymnastic Circuits


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A neat gymnastics activity for grades 4-6.  
Submitted by Anne Whitmire, Hendersonville, North Carolina. 


Purpose: The progressive tumbling circuit was designed to address and teach a wide level of gymnastics skills found in our upper elementary students. It was also developed to stimulate interest and motivate our students to new skill levels in tumbling and gymnastics.


  • Tumbling mats (8 or more)
  • Parallel bars, side horse, vaulting horse, high beam, benches, low beams, uneven bars, and music!

Description: The room is set-up with mats and identification signs to let the students know the skills at each station. After a warm-up activity, the students spend a short time reviewing the fine points of tumbling and are given an overview of the common errors students usually make when trying to perform the tumbling skills. You can call this introductory lesson a “Trouble-Shooter’s Guide to Tumbling.”

Bonus Chips: After this introduction, the students move around the room on their own trying the skills at the different gymnastic stations you have provided (ex; tripod, cartwheel, headstand, etc). When the teacher sees a skill being performed well enough to know what it is, a “bonus chip” is given to the student.

You can use poker chips, milk bottle tops, or homemade construction paper chips. The students must work continuously and keep moving in order for the teacher to see them. Some students may have to do 13 or more cartwheels before they are seen.

Of course, this is a cooperative lesson. The students have the freedom to move where they choose and this seems to encourage the students to help one another earn bonus chips.

Chart Your Skill Progress: At the end of the class, you can use a lesson closure that focuses on the number of students who were able to earn bonus chips for each of the seven basic tumbling skills, the number of students who were helped by fellow students to achieve the bonus chips, and begin to calculate (using a battery-powered calculator) the percentage of students in the class who have mastered each skill.

Adding Equipment: As the circuit days progress, we add gymnastic apparatus when appropriate.

First, we add parallel bars to teach mounts (basic front mount, reverse hip mount, lazy man, under-over, and scissors). Handwalks, handhops, bar dips, and forward and reverse cross-riding seats are excellent skills to enhance upper body development.

Dismounts (side front, side back, front dismounts) are all very appropriate skills for this age group and interest usually proves to be high.

The side horse is another piece of equipment the students enjoy. Front leaning rest, the scissors, and traveling are interesting and challenging for students. In addition, the basic vaults – pike spring, straddle on, straddle over, flank, squat – are always popular!

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