Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ready for Kindergarten Book Study: Ball Handling Activities for Kids

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This month I am participating in a Ready for Kindergarten Blog Book Study. As part of the book study, I was sent a free copy of Ready for Kindergarten! by Deborah Stewart to read and share with you! All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Starting Kindergarten is really exciting, but it can also be a bit overwhelming or stressful if you aren't completely sure that your child is ready to go! 

Ready for Kindergarten! by Deborah J. Stewart is a book that was created to give you the tools you need to help your child prepare for kindergarten and feel confident that they are ready! 

The book shares simple tips so that you can make your child's pre-kindergarten year successful. You can read more about what is included in the book over on Teach Preschool's Ready for Kindergarten page. Each blogger participating in the book study will feature a portion of the book on their blog along with some play-based activities related to their topic. You can find all of the book study posts over at Teach Preschool.

Part 1 of Ready for Kindergarten talks about the importance of kids building strength from their fingers to their toes. Fine-motor skills, large-motor skills, and self-help skills  "all take time, patience, and opportunity to develop fully but all are essential components of kindergarten success." (p13)

Today for my portion of the Book Study I am going to share about Chapter 3: Large-Motor Movement Skills... and specifically Ball Handling Skills. 

Ball handling skills can be integrated into playful activities and are really important for helping kids feel physically and socially confident as they start school and participate in a variety of games that require the use of balls. 

In Ready for Kindergarten! Deborah mentions that kids entering kindergarten "should demonstrate a basic ability and knowledge of what it means to roll, throw, toss, bounce, and kick a ball." She also indicates that you can help your child develop ball handling skills by introducing them to several different types of activities that use balls. In her book she shares several simple ball handling activities to try.

Here are a few activities that we've done that can help your child work on ball handling skills too...

Play kickball bowling.

Grab some bowling pins and a kickball or soccer ball... and just kick down the pins! The further you stand back, the harder it is and the more you need to concentrate and aim.  

Regular bowling is totally fun (and great for teaching ball-handling skills too)... but getting to kick down the pins is even cooler. I think I need to work on this more. My 5 year old was way better than me.

Play Color Match & Bounce

We love making up new games. This one requires colorful paper, painters tape, at least two people, and a ball.

All you do is tape pieces of colored paper all over your floor- in pairs. Two yellows, two reds, etc. Make sure the papers are spread at least 3-4 feet from one another.

To play, have the child holding the ball jump on a colored paper. The other child has to run and go find the paper that matches and jump on that color. Then the child holding the ball bounces the ball to the other child...that child catches it... and then bounces it back. Once that happens, the next child runs to a different colored rectangle... the other child runs to jump on the matching colored paper, and they bounce the ball again to one another. This game goes on and on as they take turns picking the colored paper to jump on and then bouncing the ball to one another.

Notice we snuck some color recognition/matching into this activity too... which is talked about in Chapter 10 of Deborah's book... and some turn taking/social skills, talked about in Chapter 7.

Have a Number Toss 

For this activity you can use the same colored cards from the color match activity... but just grab a Sharpie and write a number on each paper. You need at least two people to have a number toss.

To toss means to throw lightly or casually. We emphasized tossing in this game... not catching, though my son enjoyed practicing catching as well.

To play each player needs to run around and quickly choose a number card to stand on. Once chosen, they need to yell their number so that their partner can hear it! (for example in this photo my son yelled 3!!) For kids who are ready for it, they can them work together to add the two numbers together. (ex. My son was on 3, I was on 5... we added them together and got 8!)

Once the numbers are yelled (and/or added together) then one player tosses the ball to the other player. Then the other player tosses the ball back. If they catch the ball it is an added bonus! Then they race again to go find a new different number to stand on and yell it out again... and repeat!

In this activity we managed to sneak in some number recognition and counting too! My 5 year old wanted to play this all afternoon! He loves math and tossing the ball with me.

Roll that red ball...

Do you know the roll that red ball song? If not, learn it and sing it while you play. Rolling is great for teaching kids turn-taking skills, concentration, and hand-eye coordination.  

Make a ball cone (and run around the room)

This activity combines some ball handling skills and balancing too... which are both important large-motor skills. We used a plastic orange cone and a ball. If you don't have an orange cone you can staple a piece of paper into a cone shape. It was so fun to do!

Developing large-motor skills are just one of the many ways you can get your child ready for kindergarten!

To discover more ways to help get your child off on the right foot and feel prepared for kindergarten, I recommend checking out Deborah Stewart's book Ready for Kindergarten! 

I really enjoyed reviewing Deborah's book and found many great tips and simple activities to try. As a mom of three little ones, I don't have loads of time to do complicated things. I really appreciate the simple and useful suggestions and activities that Deborah shares in her book. In addition to the large-motor skills section, I especially loved Chapter 7 which emphasized becoming part of a community of learners. Often parents get so focused on the academic components of getting their kids ready for school that they neglect how critical social skills and the ability to follow rules are for kindergarten success. These skills, and many others that Deborah shares, help kids be prepared to become part of a community of learners once they start school and make their classroom a place where learning can happen!

Ready for Kindergarten! is a great resource for parents, educators, and other caregivers. It is not just for those who have kids who are in preschool and pre-kindergarten. I wish I would've had this book to read when my son was a toddler. It would have made me feel far less stressed out about kindergarten and would have made me feel more confident. 

If you want to learn more about the book and check out the posts by the other Blog Book Study participants, head over to Teach Preschool. You can also buy your own copy of Ready for Kindergarten! on Amazon using my affiliate link.

Do you have a child entering kindergarten soon? Do you feel like he/she is ready?

What other ball activities do you like to do with your kids? You can find some of our favorite ball activities here.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of Ready for Kindergarten to review. It rocks. I definitely think you should get a copy for yourself. All opinions in this post are mine! 


  1. Introducing that certain kind of activity for them seems like a lot of help for them to have especially that they can learn something from it and gain some interest in playing with a ball in some sports.


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