Motor planning is an important part of helping adults recuperate or develop their capacity to move and function freely. This lesson offers motor planning activities that are specifically catered toward a set of adult learners.

Teaching Motor Planning to Adults

Have you noticed that your adult learners struggle with moving carefully or freely? Perhaps they are recovering from injuries, or maybe they have special needs that make it challenging for them to engage in certain kinds of motion.

Part of helping students move better is teaching them about motor planning. Motor planning refers to the process of getting ready to carry out a particular action or set of actions. Some of us do our motor planning unconsciously, but others need to be really explicit in learning how to do a particular task.

Working on motor planning with adult learners can come with special challenges, as they may be embarrassed about their limitations and anxious to quickly learn to do things in a specific way. To help adult students develop their capacities for motor planning, you will want to have some activities on hand. The activities in this lesson can be modified to meet the needs, strengths and goals of your particular group of adults.

Activities for Adult Learners

Each activity offered here is followed by an explanation as well as some ideas for which students would benefit the most.

List Your Tasks

For some adults, it will be helpful to start by simply thinking about the different things they have to do over the course of an average day that involve motor planning. Explain to your students that they should think of at least five typical activities where they have to figure out how they will move and then carry out their plan. Listing these will help students get organized for practice and remain motivated to develop their skills.

Walking With Weights

Many people who struggle with motor planning can benefit from isolating different parts of their body at a time. Create weights by filling balloons or small bags with sand, and make them available to your students. Ask them to hold the weights in their hands and practice raising only one arm at a time, while keeping the other in place. Then, help them attach the weights to their ankles and walk around your room in one direction, then switch directions and walk the other way. Encourage students to move slowly and focus on what it feels like to walk with weights.

Toss the Ball

Once your group of adult learners is starting to get comfortable together, they can play this simple game to work on their motor planning. Gather them in a circle and provide a soft ball or bean bag. One student should start with the ball. She should say the name of another student, then throw the ball to that student, who should try to catch it. That student should then say the name of the next student, and toss the ball again. To add an extra challenge, once everyone has had the ball, see if your students can remember who threw it to whom and then repeat the sequence without saying names.

Draw, Then Do

This activity will be especially beneficial to the more visual thinkers among your adult learners. Assign each student a specific task in your classroom. Tasks might include sharpening a pencil, watering the plants, erasing the white board, etc. However, before your students actually do their tasks, ask them to create an illustration or comic strip showing what they will do in order to accomplish their task, one step at a time. After they have finished their drawing, they should carry out the task. Then, they should return to their drawing and modify it to reflect the actual motions or steps they went through.

Cardboard Obstacle Course

Many adult learners will benefit from the fun and lighthearted nature of this activity. You will need a series of different sized cardboard boxes. Place the boxes in different places around your classroom, or in a gym or outside area. Ask your students to walk from the beginning of the course to the end, weaving around the boxes without touching them. Then, challenge them to return to the beginning, but walking backwards! More advanced students can also try the course blindfolded, using their hands to feel their way.

Mirror Your Partner

Finally, this is an activity that will help your students form a connection with their classmates while working on motor planning. Break your students into pairs, and have them stand facing their partners. For five minutes, one partner takes the lead. She should move her hands and arms in a particular way, and the other partner should attempt to mirror these motions. Students who are ready can also involve legs and heads. Then, let them switch roles so that the other takes the lead. Leave time for students to reflect on what was challenging or fun about this activity.