Fun Activities with the Toy That’s Always in Style
If you care about children, you probably agree that childhood is a time of life when kids should have a ball—playing, laughing, learning, and just plain being a carefree kid.
It turns out that indeed children should have a ball—not just figuratively, but also literally. If there is one toy that is remarkable for its versatility, its appeal to almost every age group, and its ability to inspire healthy activity through all stages of childhood, it is that most basic item found in nearly every toy box—the ball.
There are so many ways for children to play with a simple beach ball, a rubber ball, or a plastic ball. Throwing, catching, rolling, kicking, or chasing after a ball means they are moving around, building strong muscles, developing eye-hand coordination, and gaining confidence in themselves and their physical abilities.
Looking for fun ways to play ball with your child, whatever his age? Here are a few suggestions:
Babies: At two months and older, many infants enjoy being placed on a slightly deflated beach ball. With an adult holding the baby securely on the ball, roll backward and forward and side to side. Older babies may like the game of pushing large balls around when they crawl. Siblings or parents can have fun getting on their hands and knees and joining in!
Toddlers: Kids aged one and two can have fun playing a simple form of “basketball” by dropping balls of various sizes into a laundry basket or pail or cardboard box. This game can get progressively more challenging by adding more targets or having the child stand further and further back from the target as she becomes more skilled and can actually throw the ball. In addition to using those growing muscles, your little one will enjoy his successes and will learn how to keep trying when he misses.
Preschoolers: Starting about age three, many children are good at kicking. So grab all the soccer balls, beach balls, basketballs, rubber balls, and even tennis balls you have around the house and line them up outside. Play with your preschooler at kicking the balls one by one. Which one is easiest to kick? Which goes farthest? Everyone in the family can join in on both the predictions and the kicking.
Early elementary kids:
By the time children are five to six years old, most can throw balls and catch them from short distances and have enough dexterity to swing a bat. This is when so many are channeled into organized sports, but make sure they have plenty of opportunities for free play as well. It’s a good time to introduce ball-bouncing “folk” games that have stood the test of time, like “A, My Name is Alice”. Check out this website for games that use balls and the rules for those games: http://www.gameskidsplay.net/games/ball_games/index.htm