I have done this activity MANY times in my sensory table but I just had a thought to transfer it to the pool this summer. The girls and I all loved how it turned out!
- Small balls ( I used pingpong balls from the dollar store but you could also do ball pit balls)
- Pool or sensory table (Check out THIS POST for how to pick out a sensory table)
- Additional toys
- Pool noodle
- Small paddles
I had previously made these pingpong balls, years ago, but we still use them all the time. I simply bought 24 pingpong balls and wrote the numbers 1 through 20 on each ball. The great thing is you could mark the balls with whatever you are working on. You could write letters of the alphabet or even sight words. You could mark the balls with different colors. You simply need to use permanent markers.
- Make your ping pong balls
- Fill up pool or sensory table with water
- Gather additional toys (BUT DO NOT PUT THEM ALL OUT)
I had my munchkins get into the swimming pool. I armed them each with a ping pong ball and started chucking balls into the pool! It was a mad dash and a lot of giggling! They had each filled their nets up with balls. I asked my oldest how many balls she caught. She LOVED adding up each girls balls and seeing who had more.
After playing CATCH ALL THE BALLS a thousand times I threw in half the balls and told them to find their number (how old they are). This was fun because it was like a treasure hunt.
Next I told them to throw out all the green numbers. (I had written all the teen numbers in green). We talked about what numbers were left in the pool.
My 2 year old got tired of the nets by this point so we switched to hands. I told them to pick a ball. They chose 8. Then they tried to toss the ball back and forth 8 times with out dropping it.
As you can see there are A TON of ways to play with these.
The next day they requested the pool and balls again. This time I added something new with the balls!
Have you all seen that you can slice up pool noodles!?! Brilliant. I also have loved the versatility of the classic pool noodle.
So I got to slicing and made some floats for our ping pong balls!
My girls loved making “cupcakes” with this new addition. I didn’t give them any direction I just asked a few questions.
- “How can you play with these green things?”
- “Can you put the floaties and pingpong balls together?”
- “What number is floating on that one?”
- “How many green floaties are there?”
Questions are a girls best friend if you want to reengage or extend an activity.
ANOTHER EXTENSION idea would be to add some pingpong paddles. I don’t have any and I don’t want to spend the money on them but I do have some badminton paddles. I think tomorrow I’ll have my girls hit the balls into or out of the pool.
I also added some colored cups on the second day and my girls loved filling each on to the brim with water and balls. There was a lot of discover happening as they discovered the balls will fall out of the cups if you fill the water too high.
REMEMBER: Even if you are not purposefully bringing your children attention to a learning objective they are ALWAYS learning through play. That is why it is SO important. Now get out there and play mama!