If there were simple activities that could immediately improve your students’ mood and help them read and write, would you do them? Of course! Get ready for some crossing the midline activities!
What Is the Midline?
Human beings are essentially symmetrical.
We have two eyes, ears, arms, and legs.
If you made a paper doll and folded it in half lengthwise, both sides would match up.
The folded line represents the midline of the body.
It runs from the top of your head down through your belly button to between your feet.
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What Is Crossing the Midline?
Crossing the midline happens whenever you use your hand or foot to cross the invisible line.
For example, when you use your left arm to pick up something on your right side, you cross your midline.
When you cross your legs, you cross your midline.
You cross your midline when you rotate your hips from side to side (which in turn moves your shoulders).
Imagine doing a side crunch (touching your elbow to your opposite knee). That is crossing the midline.
Why is It Important in Development?
Babies don’t start life crossing their midline.
It is a developmental stage.
At first, a baby will only pick up a rattle on the left side of her body with her left hand.
Starting at around four months, you will see a baby begin to cross her midline.
The skill of crossing the midline does not fully mature until 8 or 9 years old when core strength is fully developed.
It is an essential component of gross motor development.
Why is It Important in Education?
Crossing the midline is a gross motor activity that also affects fine motor activities.
This means they can use their dominant hand in skilled tasks such as cutting paper, coloring, and handwriting.
It can also affect the child’s ability to visually track from one side to another, which is foundational for reading.
Crossing the midline has a sensory component too. By doing cross-the-middle activities as a brain break, you can improve a child’s mood, increase his focus, and decrease his stress level.
Crossing the Midline Activities
These activities all require crossing the midline. They all work well in a classroom.
Play Simon Says, but have the students do movements requiring midline crossing.
These can include bending the upper body from side to side (like a metronome) and twisting the body back and forth (like a washing machine).
Any hand-clapping game can involve crossing the midline, especially if it requires facing another person and hitting your right (or left) hand with theirs.
Beading with a Long String
Give children beads and a long string. This will require them to thread the bead across their body.
Erase the Whiteboard
If a child needs a sensory activity to calm them, you can ask them to erase the whiteboard in broad strokes.
This simple task involves crossing the midline.
Many yoga moves involve crossing the midline, like standing tree pose, windmills (bending and touching your opposite toe), and eagle pose.
Bean Bag Toss
Bean bags are the perfect thing to toss in a classroom because they are soft and won’t cause damage.
Empty the trashcan and play a game of HORSE.
Set up challenges for the students to toss the beanbag using sweeping arm movements (and perhaps cross their body).
Twister is a fun game that definitely requires crossing the midline!
Move Like an Animal
You can plan a movement break where you mimic the movements of certain animals.
Moving like an elephant is ideal for crossing the midline.
Bend over at the waist and let your arm dangle.
Then, clasp your arms and swing them from side to side like a trunk.
Writing in the Air
This spelling activity requires children to cross their midlines.
Look at a spelling word on paper. Have students close their eyes and visualize it.
Then write it in the air in giant letters, like they are writing on the whiteboard.
Post some crossing-the-midline activities around the room. These will be your movement stations.
They can involve alternate toe touches, high knees (and touching your opposite knee), washing machines (rotating your torso with hands on hips), etc.
Play music and have your students march around the room.
When you stop the music, they have to perform the activity at the station where they are nearest.
Make a “challenge station” for extra fun!
Crossing the Midline Activities
These activities for crossing the midline will help your kids develop the strength and coordination they need for their academic progress.
They will also help them physically, socially, and emotionally.
Incorporate some of them into your school day.