Some of the simplest toys can bring the greatest growth. At Help Me Grow Utah, some of our favorite toys are books, balls, and blocks. Most everyone has them and everyone loves them! Some of my personal favorites are balls. As a kid, my brothers and I always seemed to have a ball within arms reach.
Balls have dynamics all their own: they bounce, roll when pushed, soar when thrown, move unassisted down a ramp and come to a complete stop. Because of this, the dynamics of moving balls can help your child learn principles of physics and cause and effect.
Here’s some fun activities to try at home:
Quite the Catch: Using a variety of balls, try the following activities:
Drop the ball, let it bounce and then catch it. Throw the ball into the air and catch it. See how high you can throw the ball and still catch it. Throw the ball into the air and see how many times you can clap your hands before you catch it. Throw the ball against the wall and catch it. Throw the ball back and forth with a friend.
Home Bowling: Using empty water or soda bottles, set up a small group of at least five bottles. Standing a few feet away, have your child roll a ball to the bottles and see how many he can know down. Make it a game with other people!
Balls in the Air: Hold the corners of a small blanket with your child to create a parachute. Place balls on the blanket and throw them up, trying to catch them on the blanket. Try different sized balls to add variation.
The Rhyming Ball Game: First have everyone sit in a circle. Hold a ball and say a word then roll it to the next person. The person who receives the ball then says a word that rhymes with your word. See how many words the circle can come up with, before picking a new word and starting again.
Monkey in the Middle: All players form a circle and choose someone (the "Monkey") to be in its center. The players forming the circle pass one ball among them while the person in the center tries to gain control of the ball. When this happens, the person in the circle who last touched the ball goes to the center.
Name Ball: Have children stand in a large circle. One child starts by saying his name and then gently passes a small, easy-to-grip ball to the child to either his right or left. The child receiving the ball must then say his/her name as he/she catches the ball. The process continues around the circle until all of the children have said their names. Once all of the children have had a turn, have them call out the name of the person to whom they’re tossing the ball. Variations include speeding up or using numbers for each player.