Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Learning for Littles: Balls

For our first Learning for Littles segment, we decided to embrace the ringing in of the New Year by doing an activity about balls. Here in the United States, the ball drop is the cornerstone of the New Year's celebration, so balls seemed to be a fun way to play! For the activities step by step, click here.

We threw a "Noon Year's Eve" party for Jude's cousins, Jacob and Sean, and Jude's best friend, Sophie. There was some set up prior to the party that was done in order to avoid long wait times for activities. 

As the kids arrived, there were balls set out for them in cups to go and explore. The twins immediately saw the cups and beelined to them. They pulled the balls out of the cups, tossed them around a little, and rolled them on the floor. By getting them immediately interested in the balls in the playroom, this built up the anticipation needed to keep them engaged.

I talk a lot when Jude and I play. I try my best to talk about colors, shapes, and other simple concepts first, but I always throw in facts and more advanced concepts. While the concepts are not conventionally age appropriate, I believe that if you continue to talk about and model the concepts, a child will start understanding the concepts earlier. In the ball pit, we discussed colors. I asked the twins to hand specific ball colors to Jude. This allowed them to be challenged while also teaching Jude. 

In the early months of Jude's life, we spent a lot of time at our library events. During this, Jude most enjoyed the music. He specifically likes songs that ask you to do something and then stop, so I searched for a song that fit those interests. After a quick YouTube search, I found "Roll the Balls with Me" by Patty Shukla. Before we left the ball pit, we sang this song a few times. The twins especially loved when I called out to stop. They would giggle and roll the balls all around with their bodies when I started singing again. Jude enjoyed watching them while chewing on a ball. 

Next, we pulled out our ball bucket and sat down in a circle. Since I give Jude the opportunity to choose as often as possible,  I made sure to integrate choice into this play session. As an example, I held out an orange smooth ball and a blue spiky ball for the babies to choose between. This helped them get a sense of autonomy and allowed them to explore the color and texture of each ball. I also talked with the babies about those textures while rolling the balls up and down their arms. Sophie loved the yellow ones, while Jude liked more spiky balls. The twins joined us and they sorted by size, color, and texture. We rolled balls down part of the Nugget couch and watched as they zoomed around the play room.

It wouldn't have been a New Year's party if we didn't do a ball drop. After the ball exploring, each child got to pick a ball that they wanted to use. We had an official clock on and did a 10 second countdown to noon and then dropped our balls. 

We finished our ball lesson with a painting project. I found cheap bouncy balls at Michaels, put them in a plastic shoe box container, let the kids choose two paint colors, and watched as they shook the boxes to create their art. The balls left beautiful trails of color,  and the kids had a blast shaking the balls around. The kids were able to see that they have the ability to impact the world around them. The artwork made a great keepsake to remember the transition to the New Year!

(our finished products)

We had a blast learning about balls, and I am excited for you to try these play activities with your little one. For step by step instructions and pictures on how you can do these activities, click here.

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