Starfish Therapies

February 17, 2012

Balance Beam Ideas


I think balance beams are a lot of fun and really useful.  You can use store bought ones (like we have) or you can use ledges and curbs out and about in your neighborhood or community or you can create your own such as Growing Play does!  I have simulated balance beams with tape lines as well however there are pros and cons to having an elevated line versus having a line flat to the ground.

When you are on a balance beam you get to work on body awareness, depth perception, attention to task, balance, foot placement, coordination and motor planning to name a few.  You can also work on these with a tape line however if you step off the line you don’t get the instant feedback that you get from a misstep on a balance beam.

Recently I have been using the balance beam to work on various walking skills that are a little more challenging to practice on flat ground.  I have been practicing walking backwards and walking sideways (left and right).  Its been a little easier for me to encourage the kiddos to move in these walking patterns because they have a set path they need to follow.  I usually have to start with hand hold assist so that I can guide the movement and they can mirror what I am doing but eventually I transition down to one hand and then no hands.

To make it even more fun I added a crash pad at the end of the beam and of course I had to add a song to it.  The song was not creative at all although it went to the tune the lost boys song ‘Following the Leader‘ in Peter Pan.  Basically I repeat, whatever direction they are walking such as ‘forward, forward, forward-forward-forward or sideways, sideways, sideways-sideways-sideways and then reverse, reverse, reverse-reverse-reverse’.  For some reason the kids think its hysterical!

I also added in toe walking and attempted heel walking as well as heel to toe walking and backwards heel to toe walking to make it more challenging.

Why would I use a balance beam for these skills?  Well for a lot of the kids I work with it helps them to get the concept of paying attention to where they put their feet when walking so that we can work on higher level skills of walking on a tape line and not stepping off (in all directions).  It also helps their balance as well as provides me with the help of boundaries to where they have to step!

What are other ideas you have used a balance beam for?



  1. I use the beam for simply standing heel-to-toe. This is great for pelvic girdle and lateral trunk strengthening/righting. Also walking across while stepping over objects placed on the beam adds an extra challenge. I also have children stand sideways on the beam while catching and throwing or mimicking my body position to work on ankle balance reactions.

    Comment by Holly — February 17, 2012 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

  2. I too have used it for standing on while catching and throwing. Makes a great addition to any obstacle course. To add in some strengthening, put spots or beanbag on the floor. The child has to “squash the bugs” as they go along the beam causing them to use their quads in an eccentric and contentric contraction.

    Comment by Your Therapy Source — February 17, 2012 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

    • Whoops – sorry for the spelling error – concentric. You knew what I meant haha!

      Comment by Your Therapy Source — February 17, 2012 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  3. I love the ideas! I also regularly use them in obstacle courses or ‘adventures’ because we have 3 different sizes so I tend to call them bridges as the kids have to cross the water (blue mat). Thanks for all the ideas!

    Comment by Starfish Therapies — February 17, 2012 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

  4. We have a variety of balance beams to bring out in our sensory room and I bring them our regularly. As an OT, I gravitate towards the ones that have a tactile component.

    Comment by jd785 — February 19, 2012 @ 12:47 am | Reply

  5. I love to add “therapy cones” and tennis balls to my balance beam. You can have the child step over the obstacle on the beam to work on increasing balance challege…..or knock the tennis ball off without knocking the cone over to work on ankle dorsiflexion strengthening. You can also place these cones out to the side and work on balance with ankle dorsiflexion/ eversion to knock the ball over.

    Comment by Dawn — March 6, 2012 @ 3:21 am | Reply

  6. As an OTA student, I found this site, comments included, extremely helpful! I find coming up with treatment ideas very challenging so I appreciate everyone’s expertise.

    Comment by Tim — December 9, 2014 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

  7. […] child walk backwards or sideways! Here are some other post on similar ideas such as balance beams, more balance beams, and jumping paths – just adapt and use painter’s […]

    Pingback by Fun with Painter’s Tape | Starfish Therapies — September 4, 2017 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

  8. […] Balance Beam Ideas […]

    Pingback by Balance and Vestibular System Ideas | Starfish Therapies — September 29, 2017 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

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