# Play Ball! (translated: Go Outside and Exercise!)

Today is Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds and is a big deal to the city. There is a parade, former players come back to see the game and be involved in festivities, and some parents take their kids out of school to attend the game and be a part of the fun.  Opening day always signals the beginning of Spring to me. We are finally seeing glimpses of that season and I am happy to see the temperatures are going to be in the 60’s after seeing cold temperatures and snow for many, many months.

How about celebrating Spring by going outside and playing some ball? Maybe you don’t have enough children for a baseball team, but all sorts of other games can be played involving balls.

Ball Games to Play

Volleyball This may be difficult to play unless you invite some friends over and you have a volleyball net, but you can play a variation of the game. Draw a line on the sidewalk and see how many times the ball can be hit in the air from one side to the other without it falling to the ground. A point is scored when the opponent cannot return the ball or steps over the line, or the ball goes out-of-bounds.

Catch Just toss a ball back and forth. You only need two people to play this game, which is great if you have an only child.  Have your child count how many times s/he is able to catch it. An added bonus is that you can include math in there too!

Pickle A variation of catch, but is played with three people. One person is in the middle and tries to intercept the ball as it is being tossed back and forth by the other two players. You can keep score by seeing ho many times each person intercepts the ball if you want.

Two Square You can use the sidewalk as a dividing line or you can draw your own square on the driveway. The idea is to stand parallel to the line and drop a large rubber ball on the ground and then hit it to your opponent. If the other person doesn’t hit it on the first bounce, you get a point. The first one to 10 (or what number you decide), wins. Did you know you can even purchase a ball that is perfect for that activity? It is called a playground ball.

Four Square This is a variation of Two Square and you can bounce the ball is any of the other squares. This makes the game a bit livelier, since you have to keep alert. You can do “dropsies” where you get low to the ground and drop the ball in the opponent’s square.  You can also bounce it really high, trying to bounce the ball in the other person’s square and not giving them an opportunity to hit it before it goes out-of-bounds. Your opponent cannot catch the ball, but must hit it with their hand. Make up your own variations and moves with the game. Maybe the players have to hit it with their elbows instead of their hands.

Tennis If you don’t have a tennis court nearby, play driveway tennis.

Relay Races Why not use a baseball or a tennis ball and have the children balance the ball on the top of their shoe? The first player who completes an up and back lap wins. You can also have the players bounce a ball up and back, the winner is the one who crosses the line first.

Dodge Ball This is not one of my favorites because it seems like someone usually gets hurt, but if you monitor how hard the ball can be thrown, the kids love playing. Decide on boundaries before beginning as anyone who steps/runs out of the boundary sit sour until the game is finished. One person is the thrower and the other players attempt to dodge the ball until there is only one player left. The player who is left is the person who gets to throw the ball the next time.

Kickball This is played just like baseball, but you play with a larger ball and kick it instead of hitting the ball. This can be modified if you do not have many people to play.

Get out there and enjoy the weather! You will not only have fun, but the children are having physical education and you can burn off some extra calories too if you join in the fun!

~Lisa

# Indoor Activities with Balloons

Brrr! It’s cold outside and everyone is getting antsy.  Here are some fun ideas using balloons to help your children expend their energy. You can also incorporate some math and science with that physical education!

Balloon Juggling  Blow up two balloons and practice “tossing” them from hand to the other. First, throw one of them high into the air so that it is floating. As it begins to descend, add toss the other balloon into the air. Hit the one that is descending, causing it to rise. Hit the next balloon as it descends, causing it to rise. Keep the cycle going! Add a third balloon when you have mastered two balloons.

Balloon Rockets This activity is fun for all ages. The longer the room, the further the rocket will go.

You will need:

Balloons (elongated ones work best, but round ones work too)

1 Straw

1 clothes pin (the type with a spring)

Fishing line

2 Chairs (Ones which you can attach fishing line)

Tape measure, pencil, paper, graph paper

First, place each chair on opposite sides of the room.

Tie one end of the fishing line to one chair, making sure it is taut, otherwise the balloon rocket will “stall out”.

Next, thread the straw through the fishing line and then tie the fishing line to the other chair. This will be your rocket line.

Inflate the balloon, pinching the end closed with the spring clothes pin.

Use two pieces of tape to secure the balloon to the straw on the fishing line. Be sure the clothes pin end is pointing towards the end of the track and the nose of the balloon is pointed toward the chair across the room.

Remove the close pin and let the rocket fly!

Okay, you know you can’t pass up the teachable moment so grab the tape measure and see how far the rocket flew.  Record the results and do it at least two more times. 🙂 How about graphing the results? balloon rocket data sheet   You can also compute the average distance, how long it took for the balloon to fly, and which one flew the farthest.

Balloon Volleyball

Items Needed;

1  balloon ( I like the 12″ balloons for this activity, but a 9″ balloon will work too.)