Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beach Balls - More than just a day at the beach.

Did you know that you can have fun playing with beach balls all year long and not just when you're frolicking on the beach? Beach balls are a great way to help children develop ball skills. They're softer, easier to catch, lighter, and move slower than a regular playground ball. For these reasons they're less threatening to a child just learning to catch. The slower movement helps children develop visual tracking skills, improved reaction time, and eye/hand, foot/hand coordination. Catching is easier than throwing, so to start out, stand no more than 3-4 feet from the child and gently toss the ball to his/her outstretched hands. As the child develops skill in catching the ball, move further away. To practice throwing, begin by having the child throw the ball into a large container (trash barrel, bucket, hula hoop). Start at a close range and move further back as the child's skill develops. Once a child is having success in catching and throwing in these non threatening ways, you can start tossing back and forth with another person. Again, start at a close range and move further back as skill develops. Here's some other beach ball activities to help develop more advanced ball skills.
  • child returns a ball thrown to him/her by hitting it with two hands
  • bounce and catch - first to a partner and then to him/herself
  • kicking a stationary beach ball
  • kicking a moving beach ball
  • drop kicking
  • practice batting skills using a beach ball and a plastic bat
  • suspend a beach ball from a string to practice two handed hitting, one handed hitting, batting
Try some of these activities and have a ball!

Thanks to Maria, our physical therapist, for her ideas.

Photo citation - valentinapowers

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