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Being active - Moving through space
Playing with balls  Like this activity  
15 - 30 mins activity Suitable for Birth - 5 years

Location Outdoor, Park

Playing with balls outside provides children with the opportunity to catch and throw, roll and kick, push, punch and chase after the ball. As the ball moves, talk about the way it is moving.

Is it moving along the ground at a fast pace or bouncing up and down on the same spot? Can you roll the ball under the chair or throw it at a target on the shed?

Count together the number of throws you can do before the ball hits the ground or the number of goals that you can kick. Does it make a difference to scoring a goal if you are closer or further away from the goal? Talk about which leg to use to kick the ball.

Do we always use the same leg to kick with? Is the left leg stronger and more accurate than the right leg? Is this different for different people?

Who can kick the ball the furthest - is it always the same member of the family or does it sometimes change?

Materials you will need

  • Balls

Why does this matter?

Playing and experimenting with the different ways that balls move helps children to understand everyday movement and navigation of themselves and objects through space. As children throw, catch and kick they are beginning to use language to describe how far the ball travelled, how high the ball bounced, how fast or slowly it rolled and how many times they were able to do this. They are beginning to use language to describe and compare the difference between their efforts and the effort of another child.

What does this lead to?

Using language to compare and describe helps children to understand that there are different terms and tools we use to describe measurement. Measurement helps us to understand size and to successfully navigate around the environment. As children develop an understanding of size they begin to explore their space and to experiment with the variety of ways they can move their bodies and objects into, around and through space.

Language and Questions to use

  • Fast, slow
  • Quick, steady, even pace
  • Under, over
  • Between, middle, beneath, within
  • Left, right
  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • How many times can we throw the ball without dropping it?
  • Which ball will get to the bottom of the hill first?
  • How many goals can you kick?
  • Are you more accurate if you stand closer or further away from the goal?
  • Can you roll the ball through the tunnel and out the other side?

Useful Tips

  1. Children under three years of age will find large balls easier to hold and move.
  2. Children under three years of age are still developing visual tracking skills. Visual tracking is required for catching a ball.
  3. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Hang tennis balls in stockings from trees for hitting.
  2. Roll balls down hills and ramps and time them to see how quickly they reach the bottom.
  3. Create tubes and tunnels for rolling balls through. Add blocks and boxes to change the height and angles of the tunnels.
  4. Use buckets or draw chalk circles on the ground for throwing targets. Add numbers to the circles to direct how many throws.

Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Draw chalk lines on the ground for rolling the ball between.
  • Use large, soft beach balls for throwing, catching and kicking.
  • Use large cardboard boxes for rolling balls through.
  • Count together as you kick and throw and catch and roll the ball.

Questions to use

  • How many kicks can we do?
  • Can you roll the ball between the lines?
  • Has the ball reached the other side?

Three to five year olds

  • Hang tennis balls in stockings from trees for hitting.
  • Roll balls down hills and ramps and time them to see how quickly they reach the bottom.
  • Create tubes and tunnels for rolling balls through. Add blocks and boxes to change the height and angles of the tunnels.
  • Use buckets or draw chalk circles on the ground for throwing targets. Add numbers to the circles to direct how many throws.
  • Build a marble roll game to see how far and how quickly the ball will travel.

Questions to use

  • How many times can we throw the ball without dropping it?
  • Which ball will get to the bottom first?
  • How many goals can you kick?
  • Are you more accurate if you stand closer or further away from the goal?
  • Can you roll the ball through the tunnel and out the other side?

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Playing with balls

Skills this activity improves

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