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
Thanks to Maria, our physical therapist, for her ideas.
Photo citation - valentinapowers