Take Us Out to the Ball Game
Have a ball with these fun games!
- Grades: PreK–K
- a gym ball that bounces well
Children will engage in fun, cooperative games that develop gross-motor and memory skills.
1. Invite everyone to form a circle on the playground so that you can explain the game rules. Start by showing children how the first person bounces the ball on the ground and says her own name, then bounces the ball a second time, says the name of another child, and throws or bounces the ball to that child. The child who catches the ball goes through the same steps, and the game proceeds until everyone has had a turn. The goal is to keep the ball moving around quickly.
2. Try playing this game in a different form. Ask everyone to sit in a circle. Explain that the first child taps his thighs with his hands, says his name, claps his hands, and says the name of another child. That child follows the same pattern, and so on. When children are comfortable with this version, encourage them to think up their own patterns to do. For instance, one child might tap his thighs, clap three times, and tap again before he says another name. If children forget, encourage the group to help out, or you can just start the game over.
3. Play another name game that encourages listening skills, coordination, and cooperation. Ask one child to stand in the middle of the circle with the ball, throw the ball up in the air, and say another child's name. The child named then runs into the center of the circle to try to catch the ball before it drops (or on one bounce), while the first child runs back to her place in the circle. The activity is repeated until everyone has had a turn.
Tip: Most children enjoy having adults participate in their activities. Your participation provides an opportunity to model the actions of the game, assist children who may be having difficulty, and increase children's enjoyment in the game as you share your enthusiasm.
Spin-off: If children enjoy the challenge of repeating and building on one another's patterns, suggest this variation: Ask everyone to stand in a circle, give the ball to one child, and encourage her to say her name and then create a pattern of motions incorporating the ball. For instance, she might say her name, bounce the ball twice, and throw the ball up in the air and catch it before she says someone else's name and passes the ball on. Again, ask children to add one new movement for each turn and to help one another remember the pattern.
Children can learn about more outdoor activities as you read these fun books together.