Everybody's getting together on a weekend afternoon at your folks (or his) for backyard fun. Suddenly, half a dozen preschoolers are swarming the yard. Or, you and a few neighbors are getting together. When faced with several kiddies, you need activities. Preschoolers need the opportunity to handle balls and learn basic ball skills in a fun way. Through play, preschoolers develop their large muscles and practice hand-eye coordination. Give them a variety of balls, from light to heavy, large or small -- as well as colored balls. Watch what happens. Instant fun! Who knows an upcoming sports star may be in the making?
Cut two inches off the bottom of two 1-gallon-sized plastic milk bottles. Make sure to leave the handle in place to make a catching scoop. Cover the rough edges with masking tape. Invite the children to stand a distance apart and practice tossing and catching with their new homemade toy. Increase the distance as skill is demonstrated. Use a variety of balls -- rubber, tennis and even a ball made from crumpled newspaper -- make this game challenging and fun.
2. Number Bounce Ball Game
Eight- or 10-inch rubber balls are best for bouncing. Let him experiment with this ball so he can learn to bounce the ball before playing this game. Place five hoops on the floor with a number in the center of each from one to five. Invite the child to bounce the ball the appropriate number of times in each ring. Increase the number of bounces with the child’s skill level.
3. Kick-the-Ball Bowling
Controlled kicking may not be accomplished until an older age. However, preschool is the time for a child to learn how to swing his legs and aim toward a ball. Set up a line of empty plastic bottles. Challenge the child to kick the ball from a short distance and knock over the pretend bowling pins. Count the bottles knocked down together and reset them for another try. These plastic pins can be decorated as characters or with a seasonal focus for added entertainment.
4. Suspendable Ball Game
Hang a lightweight plastic ball from a tree limb using a length of heavy string. The ball should be about shoulder height. Invite the child to hit the ball with a paddle or plastic baseball bat. Instruct the child to watch the ball and hit it each time it swings back to him. Count the number of hits he makes.
5. Umbrella Basketball
This game is perfect when stuck indoors on a rainy day. Gather a stack of newspapers and show the children how to take a sheet and crumple it to make a ball. Make a pile of balls and wrap them with a few strips of masking tape to make them sturdy. Prop an opened umbrella in the corner of the room. Invite the children to toss the balls from a distance, in hopes he might score a basket if it lands inside the umbrella.
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