There is SO much a baby can learn and enjoy with a simple collection of balls! We explored textures, colors, and shapes among other things this week when we focused on playing with balls with W. We gathered up all the balls in the house and found a ways to play with her individually and with her older sister, G. I thought I would share with you the simple ways we introduced ball play with W. The benefits of simple baby play are many – helping to work on fine and gross motor skills, vocabulary, color recognition, sensory stimulation, and more.
Here’s what we used in our simple play with W and how we used them:
A Ball Bin
We spent some focused time with just W (10 months) during G’s (2 years old) naps playing with the balls in a bin. I gathered all the balls I could find in the house, so we had LOTS of options for fun. I included balls of all sizes and colors, textures, and materials. We had squishy balls, plastic balls, a tennis ball, and some balls with rattles inside. We also used the balls that can be made from this stacker. I threw all the balls into a round basket, so she could explore them in one place. We started out the week with a smaller collection and added to it throughout the week, just to freshen things up.
It was really easy to make a simple ball toy for W to play with, too. We took a clean plastic canister (the ones that Gerber puffs come in) added a few balls and put the lid on. Then we rolled the canister in her direction and let her explore it. Later we added a ball that lights up when bounced and a ball with a rattle. These were wonderful for her to explore because they are so sensory – appealing to her sense of hearing. This also helps her to practice fine motor skills related to dropping the balls into the canister and turning it over to get them out (once we remove the lid for her).
A Big Bouncy Ball
Working on gross motor skills while having fun with our baby is SO easy with the introduction of our big exercise ball! We helped her work on her balance by placing her (tummy side down) over the exercise ball and rolling and bouncing it ever so slightly. Of course, we made sure to have a helping hand for her at all times, as she is still getting her legs underneath her. She is just learning to stand up, so this was a wonderful activity to do because she could lean on the ball (while we were supporting it), in a standing posistion.
A Handle Ball
Lastly, we gave her a slightly smaller bouncy ball (the one with a handle) and let her experience it. The handle gives her the opportunity to work on grasping and shaking the ball up and down. Her sister can lay herself on it and bounce on it, but W had lots of fun just shaking and bouncing it while sitting next to it. She loved it! And the bright colors of both the exercise ball and the handle ball definitely engage her eyes.
Having a ball was easy with W because we had the balls all together and where she could reach them. She had lots of fun playing with them and is starting to recognize more words (especially “ball”) as a result of our simple baby play. The simple explorations she is able to do at this stage will help her later. And I love that she is learning primarily through simple play!
Does your little one have a favorite ball to play with?
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