Ball Pit Fun

For a few days there, we were getting out every day to run around in the newly green grass, but yesterday was drizzly and cold, and today is sunny and colder. So instead of going to the playground, going for a walk, or kicking a ball in the front yard, we'll be heading back up to our attic playroom to work out all of our afternoon energy. 

One of my favorite toys in the playroom is our ball pit. Relatively safe for my physically active and curious boy, colorful, and versatile! What's not to love? Our ball pit is a hodge podge of different items from different places and came together over time. First, I bought some balls second hand (which is how we get most of Will's toys) from someone at work. (The balls came with a purple and pink princessy blow-up contraption that I ended up stabbing with scissors after unsuccessfully trying to inflate multiple times.) Then, my sister gave Will the blue blow-up pool for Christmas after I tried to requisition her baby pool. And just a few weeks ago, I actually invested in 100 more brand-new balls to fill up the "pit" a bit more. Will has loved to climb in and out and move all the balls around ever since he was able to crawl over to the pool, and as he has grown, we have developed some (only slightly) more organized games.

IN and OUT
Get yourself in and out, put the balls in and out, take the car/bear/block in and out. This will probably just happen when you set your child anywhere near the ball pit and with a little encouragement can become a fun game and useful in many situations like cleaning up and following directions.

Matching--Pick up a yellow ball and ask your child to pick up a yellow ball. If they pick up a ball, that's great! If they pick up a yellow ball, that's even more impressive. If it's any other color, choose another yellow ball to match yours or choose the color that they have to match them. Usually, we then hit the balls together and someone usually tries to eat one.
Sorting--Take/throw all of one color ball out of the pool or into a bucket or basket. Try the same with two colors and two buckets/baskets. And so on...

Take an object that makes noise, place it in the balls, and turn it on. Encourage your child to find it. Start easy with younger children by leaving part of the object visible and make it harder by submerging the object or hiding objects that don't make noise as your child develops object permanence and gets better and better at seeking. Eventually, you might be able to ask them to hide objects for you or other children to find. (BE CAREFUL: Will loves to throw himself into the pit, so we make sure to remove all hard objects after each play session.) 

With some pillows, couch cushions, or fold-up tunnels, make your ball pit part of an obstacle course to chase your child through (which is what Will loves) or have them follow you through.

Encourage your child to push the balls around with his or her arms and kick his or her feet through the balls. Will loves to do this in a sitting position, but you could also try on their bellies or backs. If your child is really advanced, teach them the different strokes!

That's it! Do you have any other ideas for ball pit games or activities? I'd love to hear them because I know in a few short months, we'll be escaping from the heat to play in the attic.

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