I’m pretty sure the word “ball” was one of the first words for all my kids. Maybe your child’s too? And although we started with just one simple play ball, our ball basket is now bursting at the seams.
Here are a few roll the ball learning game ideas for parents and teachers of young children to introduce math, phonemic awareness and vocabulary development.
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Roll the Ball Game Variations for Kids
Best for Ages 6 months – 6 years
- Kid-friendly Balls
The Classic Roll the Ball Game for Kids
What to do? Sit V legged on the floor. Have the child sit facing you a few feet away in the same position. Gently roll the ball back and forth, catching and passing the ball with both hands. The outstretched legs act as a tunnel and will assist in helping the ball roll close to the child’s hands.
Pair this classic roll the ball game with a favorite Ball Book! Click here for a list of my kids —–> favorite ball books.
Roll the Ball Texture Game
Introduce texture and touch vocabulary. Select a ball that is bumpy, one that is plastic, and one that is soft. Roll the balls one at a time to your child. Encourage them to feel the textures. Talk about them.
Sample: When I put my fingers on the ball it feels knobby. It is not smooth. This ball is bumpy. <roll the ball to the child> Ask, “How does this ball feel to you?”
Roll the Ball Size Game
Introduce size and comparison. Select several balls of varying sizes. Place the balls in a line next to where you are sitting. Point to each ball and talk about the size using a variety of size vocabulary. Sample: “This ball is very small. It is a tiny ball. I will roll the smallest ball to you.”
During the roll the ball game with balls of different sizes, encourage the child to compare the ball sizes. Ask, “Are these balls the same size? How are they different?”
Roll the Ball Counting Game
Practice Counting. Bring a little math into the Roll the Ball game. Count out loud in order for every time you pass the ball from one person to another. For older children, challenge them to count higher.
Depending on the age and academic level of the child, you may even consider bringing in skip counting (by 5’s, or 10’s) or counting backwards.
Roll the Ball Vocabulary Game
Review unit vocabulary. Have you been learning about lizards this week? Bring a little vocabulary review into this ball game. Every time the ball is passed call out a word or something learned about lizards.
Roll the Ball Beginning Sounds Game
Strengthen phonemic awareness skills. As kids grow and develop, their interest and need for playing with balls does not leave. Bring more ball play into older preschool to first graders lives with phonemic awareness games like this one. Call out a letter name. Identify the sound that letter makes. Then, every time the ball is passed to a new person, that person says another word that begins with the same sound.
Sample. The letter S is called. It makes the /s/ sound like in the word SAND. The adult passes the ball to the child. The child then says another word that begins with /s/ such as sandwich. Play continues until the players run out of word ideas. Continue playing the game for several letters or until the child shows signs of being ready for the next activity.
WRITING EXTENSION: After playing Roll the Ball Beginning Sounds Game, you may invite the child to select one of the letters and write down as many words as they remember that begin with that sound.
Just for Teachers!
Teachers may use any of the above games in a small or large group setting. Have the children make a large circle and pass the ball to another student across the circle. Make sure all children have had a chance to catch and roll the ball before moving on to the next activity.
If you have a parent volunteer, this is a great 1 on 1 activity for a volunteer to play with the child that provides a little gross motor movement and academic review.
For even MORE Ball fun here at The Educators’ Spin On It, we recommend: