Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrives in theaters this week, and its hero Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, is physical literacy personified. Your kids might relate to his character easier than some of the other comic book heroes, because while he’s obviously much stronger than the average human, he’s not a god, he’s not a giant green rage monster, and he doesn’t wear a metal suit.
“Captain America doesn’t fly; he doesn’t shoot lightning bolts,” says actor Chris Evans, who plays Captain America in the current Marvel film series. But by using an amazing set of movement skills he can run, jump, leap, somersault, and throw his shield with extraordinary prowess.
If you have superhero fans at home you might see and hear a lot more Captain America imaginative play in your house in the days and weeks ahead. And whether they see the film or not, expect them to be pumped and ready for action.
You can use the momentum from this film to inspire your kids to get active and develop skills like their favourite characters. Here are 6 ways you can motivate your kids to move like Captain America (not to mention Black Widow and Falcon – who also show off some amazing physical skills in the new movie):
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford
Studio: Marvel Studios
Format: In theaters
Run time: 136 min
MPAA rating: PG-13
1. Running: In the opening of the film Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson (Falcon) are each doing laps around a park. Of course, Steve’s a little faster, which frustrates Sam a bit, but it also inspires Sam to try a little harder. Challenge kids to race against each other. It’s great exercise and further develops motor coordination in the legs.
2. Climbing: Early in the film we see Captain America climbing up the anchor chain of a ship. This takes strength, dexterity, and spacial awareness. No ship in the immediate area? No worries, our Monkey Bar Challenge can help kids reenact this fun scene. Remember that younger kids will often need you to stick close by at first until they get the “hang” of it. Older kids could challenge themselves by climbing from underneath.
3. Jumping: From the tops of cars, rooftops, and even a helicarrier, Captain America and Black Widow do lots of jumping and leaping throughout the film. The good news is that kids don’t need such extreme environments to practice their leaps and bounds. Have a look at our list of activities that develop jumping skills.
4. Falling and somersaulting: In one scene, Captain America jumps from a great height, bends his knees upon reaching the ground, and rolls forward in a somersault. By doing this, he cushions the impact of his landing and redirects the energy of his fall. Learning how to fall – or direct a fall – correctly is actually a very important movement skill that kids need for many sports and life in general as they grow older. Meanwhile, somersaulting or rolling (which sometimes happens in conjunction with a fall) helps them build basic body-spacial awareness.
5. Basic gymnastics: During the course of the film, both Captain America and Black Widow perform some amazing acrobatic moves, not just for fighting, but also while propelling themselves through complex environments. A few moves your kids can try at home include handstands, cartwheels, and learning to balance while walking across a narrow object, such as a log at the beach … or for younger kids, even along a rope on the ground.
6. Throwing: You’ve seen Captain America throw his shield before, and he does it more in this film than any other … using it in some pretty creative ways. Your kids can practice similar movements using a frisbee. Like other types of throwing, hurling a frisbee through the air helps develop hand-eye coordination. While typical frisbee throws are underhanded, try throwing it overhanded, too – the way Cap throws his shield. Have your kids hold the frisbee with four fingers on the top of the disc and their thumb underneath. Then have them bring the disc from behind their back around to their front with their knuckles facing up. As they throw the frisbee, they should flick their wrist, which will rotate the disc counter-clockwise as it propels forward. You can also find additional throwing activities here.
Kids might also be very interested to know that Chris Evans took lessons in mixed martial arts and gymnastics to train for this movie. And knowing Captain America “did it” might be all the motivation your kids need to try a new activity.