The Ball Game – A Motion Strategy

Sometimes the simple things can make the biggest difference.

I use this anytime I feel my kiddos need “waking up” as it generates immediate interest. I keep an inflatable world globe ball by my desk at all times, just in case.

The game couldn’t be simpler. I ask a question, if the student knows the answer then they raise both arms to catch the ball. I throw it, they catch it, and answer the question. They throw it back. Repeat. The kids absolutely love this. If I ask a question that has a list for an answer, we’ll do a “think fast” round. In a “think fast” round I announce the topic (inventions, presidents, etc.) and start the game by throwing the ball to a student. If the student gives a correct answer, they then toss the ball to another student, who then answers.

Any ball will do, but the globes are great for social studies. A teacher friend of mine and fellow blogger uses a numbered soccer ball and pre-written questions. There are also commercially made inflatables with reading comprehension questions for informational texts that  the children also adore.

Here is a link to those on Amazon.

A teacher I work with kicked this up several notches, using a soccer ball and pre-written questions. I asked her to write it up for me, and she was kind enough to write a very descriptive post as a comment. Be sure to scroll down!

2 comments so far

  1. Eve Heaton on

    When I was in grad school one of the ideas for math was to take a black and white soccer ball and number it 1-12 on the blank white hexagons (pentagons?). Then students tossed it back and forth to each other and had to multiple, divide, add or subtract (depending on the skill level of the students) whatever two numbers their left and right hand thumb was on.

    I got the ball from Walmart (the only place that seemed to have the old “black and white” soccer balls) and did this with my math class when I was student interning.

    I moved into science and still had the ball so I decided to come up with 24 “must know” science questions for each unit and play the ball toss game that way. I would list 12 questions for the right hand thumb and then 12 questions for the left hand thumb. At the begining of class, for a warm up, I would have students stand and I would toss it to the first student, they would tell me what number their right hand thumb landed on and I would read the corresponding question off my list. If they got it right they passed the ball to another student and sat down. If they got it wrong they passed the ball to another student and stayed standing. I would alternate days – one day right thumb the other day left thumb.

    By the end of the year I had about 120 questions that students should be able to answer cold. We would play the game more frequently as we got closer to the end of year state test.

    Like Mendy stated, the kids love to get up and moving and any opportunity to throw a ball in a classroom is usually a winner.

    Some rules I discuss ahead of time – They stand up behind their seat with their seat tucked in. They are not moving around the classroom. They are not to throw it so high that they hit the ceiling or so low they hit another child. We practice throwing the ball so that studnets can see what “normal” throwing looks like. They are to be very careful around any student near computers. They can not take forever to throw the ball to another student they are to release the ball as soon as possible after answering the question. You are not allowed to talk after you sit down. That doesn’t take long to establish and enforce. If students start acting up I just take the ball way and say “We’ll try it again tomorrow”. They like doing the ball toss so normally the next day I get much better behavior.

    I highly recommend this as a fun warmup for any class!

    Eve Heaton

  2. Laura on

    Thank you so much for writing this blog! I happened upon it and your friend Eve’s blog over the summer, and I’m hooked on them both! I’m slowly trying out ideas in my classroom, where I teach all subjects. Keep the great ideas coming!

    Laura – 4th
    Greenville, SC

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