Cartwheel-a-gator is a visual tool to teach kids how to cartwheel. We encountered several struggles when teaching cartwheels so we created the gator as a teaching aid.
Two recurring issues when teaching a cartwheel is teaching the difference between left and right sided cartwheels and getting kids to turn their hands sideways. Our preschool students kept putting their hands on the mat and doing a tuck jump over. Sound familiar? So we created a sideways visual by drawing eyeballs on the mat and telling our students to “close the alligators eyes.” Closing the alligators’ eyes is easier to explain and way more fun than just turning hands sideways! Our second issue was teaching kids right and left. We then realized that by creating two sets of eyes – blue and brown – we also had a visual representation to explain right side and left side.
Now, when we teach cartwheels, we tell our students: “Close the alligators eyes and make sure he cannot see you. Then take a big jump over his back so your toes don’t touch his teeth!” The students usually naturally choose one set of matching eyes. If they forget we remind them to put both hands on the same color eyes!
Introducing the Cartwheel-a-Gator at National Congress
We brought our friendly Cartwheel-a-gator stickers with us to National Congress. We met the wonderful Bob Mancino, of Mancino Mat at the Mancino Mats booths. He took the time to decorate his Cartwheel-inator mat with our Cartwheel-a-Gator stickers. It looked adorable! We also got a shout out from Linda Thorberg of Flipping Education at her tumbling lecture as Linda featured our gator as a cartwheel tumbling tool!
The Cartwheel-a-Gator is our preschool kids’ favorite way to learn how to cartwheel. We printed out extra vinyl Cartwheel-a-Gator stickers so that you can use them at your gym too for USD $30 for two gators!
Teaching Preschoolers Can Be Challenging
Making drills and exercises exciting and dynamic for preschoolers can be a challenge so sometimes adding a little bit of creativity can help get your preschoolers engaged and hyped. I find that using imagery or props that the kids enjoy creates an environment where class is fun and easy to manage. I no longer have to motivate my students to keep doing the exercises because the pretend animals, balloons or toy props do the motivating for me.
Sometimes it can go a bit deeper than just motivation though. Sometimes props can be used to explain the drill in a way that works for the preschooler. A prop or animal imagery can be the difference between little four year old Suzy learning the skill instead of being confused. In this case, the Cartwheel-a-Gator is often the difference between our students learning a cartwheel instead of tuck jumping over the mat! The simple visual imagery makes all the difference.
We hope our cartwheel-a-gator will help your preschoolers achieve cartwheel success! Use the cartwheel-a-gator to decorate any mat. However, it definitely looks particularly great on the Mancino Cartwheelinator. If you don’t own one already you can buy one here: https://www.mancinomats.com/mancino-cartwheel-inator.
Trying to create a full preschool lesson plan? Check out some tips here.