A fun, low-cost activity that you can easily do together almost anywhere.

Why do it?

  • Balls are a readily available activity, enjoyable both outdoors and indoors.
  • Repetition builds strong pathways in the brain.
  • Ball play can involve both fine (small muscle) and gross (large muscle) motor skills.
  • Playing with balls is also good chance to:
    • build on and strengthen skills that are used in many other activities, like hand–eye co-ordination
    • practise taking turns
    • co-operate and collaborate with others — both children and adults
    • make use of low-cost or no-cost resources.

How to do it

You'll need: a ball of some kind

  • Gather some balls in a range of sizes, shapes and textures.
  • A simple and cheap ball can be made from scrunched up newspaper wrapped with a bit of sticky tape or from a sock stuffeed with tissues.
  • Beach balls can be safe for indoor ball play they can’t do too much damage.
  • Before you start any ball game, agree on the rules. For example, certain balls might be for throwing and catching outside only.

Playing ball games with toddlers:

  • Make sure the ball is small enough for a toddler’s hand, but too big for their mouth.
  • If your toddler is not yet walking, sit facing them with your legs apart and roll a ball back and forth between you. Your legs will guide the ball if it’s headed ‘out-of-bounds’.
  • Show a toddler how to throw the ball and chase after it. Give it to them to throw and ‘race’ each other to it when it lands.
  • Lightweight inflated balls work well with toddlers but need to be firm enough to prevent toddlers from biting them.
  • A simple sock ball game is aiming them at the washing basket, empty toy box or a container. Move it further away to make it more challenging. 

Playing ball games with 3-5 year olds 

  • Children between 3 and 5 years old will be mastering catching a ball. Start by standing close together and then move further apart as their skill and confidence grows.
  • Try out a variety of ball skills activities such as rolling, throwing, kicking and batting.
  • Introduce a simple target such as a box to get the ball into or to knock over, or a chalk circle drawn on the path, an outside wall or a fence.
  • If you've got a group of tamariki to entertain, get them to form a circle. Pick a category such as 'colours' or 'animals' and get each child to shout out an answer e.g. 'Blue' or 'Cow' before they throw the ball to someone else in the circle. 
  • Play newspaper ‘hockey’ with a newspaper ball and a hockey stick made of rolled up newspaper. This can be a vigorous indoor game for wet days if there’s a suitable space, such as a hallway.
  • Use a newspaper ball and play a version of volleyball over a string.
  • Play family games of soccer and hockey outside
  • Plan a half-time snack with your tamaiti.
  • Encourage tamariki to invent their own new ball games

Using more te reo Māori

Te reo Māori English
Paoro iti Little ball
Paoro nui Big ball
Tikina tō pōro Bring your ball
Homai te pōro e te tau Give me the ball my darling
Takahuri te pōro Roll the ball
Do it again
Nōku te wā My turn
Nōu te wā Your turn
Kei hea te pōro? Where is the ball?
Kei raro i te tepu Under the table
Kei muri i te tūru Behind the chair
Whiua te pōro ki a Pāpā Throw the ball to Dad
Kino kē koe e te tau! You're awesome my darling!