Evan is a high energy little boy and learning activities that include gross motor movement are a big hit. A while back I came across this post (Word Family Slam) over at Toddler Approved. It immediately caught my attention because Evan loves throwing balls. What a neat way to combine learning and an activity he already loves to do for fun! The author mentions that she had her younger child practice throwing the ball at specific colors. Evan is learning his colors right now, so that is what I decided to do as well.
I started by laminating 6 different colored sheets of paper (red, yellow, blue, green, orange and purple). I laminated them because I wanted them to be durable and I wanted to be able to write on them with dry erase markers. This way I could draw shapes, numbers, letters, words, etc. on them and be able to wipe it off and re-use again. This didn’t work exactly as planned and I’ll talk about at the bottom of this post.
Once you have your paper laminated, you will need painters tape to attach it to the wall. I just used 2 pieces of tape on the top corners, but would suggest using some on all 4 corners if you want it to hold up to little hands who may be interested in ripping it off the wall. 🙂
We started by throwing the ball at the color I called out. Evan did a pretty good job, but he is still learning to identify colors by their names. He is much better at color matching at this point. As a result, he started to lose interest and just throw the ball at any color he wanted. This is one of those times where you have to think on your feet and adapt the activity for your child. That’s the best part of schooling at home. You can tailor it to your child. So I just started yelling out the name of the color he threw the ball at. As this got old, I started yelling the name of the the colors in funny voices and making silly faces. This renewed his interest for another couple minutes. At this age, that is about how long an activity will hold his interest before he wants to move on to something new. I definitely suggest changing up approaches as interest wanes. You’d be surprised how quickly you can turn things around.
After this I told him we were going to practice our shapes too. I got the dry erase marker and quickly drew a shape on each colored piece of paper. He had moved on from the ball at this point, so I decided to have him race to the wall and smack the shape with his hand after I called it out. He LOVED this, but wanted me to race him as well. This was slightly comical as I am 8 months pregnant, but I obliged! As we played, I found that it was easier for him if I told him what shape we were going to smack, let him locate it with his eyes and then said “GO!” This way he wasn’t just frantically running and smacking the first shape he got to, just to beat me. I would say that this whole activity (colors and shapes) only lasted 10 minutes before he was ready to play something else. So don’t get discouraged if your young child doesn’t stay with one activity for very long (even one as fun as this!). Just do a little here and there when they are willing to participate.
Now back to the dry erase marker situation. After the game, I tried to wipe the marker off and it was VERY difficult. It required A LOT of elbow grease and still left a pretty bad stain. I would definitely suggest using a wet erase marker on lamination. This wiped off easily with a damp napkin and left no stain. Hopefully this saves you from having to learn about lamination and dry erase markers the hard way, like me!
Hope you enjoy this fun gross motor learning activity! If you try it, let me know. I’d love to hear how it went for you.