All Kinds of Balls

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Travis and I are about to launch into his Game Day-themed kit from Raddish Kids, featuring a trio of recipes perfect for this time of year. Whether your family loves Sunday football, World Series baseball, or simply watching a local game of youth soccer in the park, there’s no better season for sports and eats!

It seemed fitting, then, to start off with this fun lesson plan on all kinds of balls, and namely: why some bounce and some don’t.

First, we needed to brainstorm a list of balls. I gave Travis a definition of the term: coming up with ideas in a safe space where all ideas are welcome and together we made a quick list. I guided him towards actual sports after his first few ideas were more descriptive (squishy balls, hard balls).

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We went through and talked about which was the biggest (basketball!) smallest (ping pong!) and most colorful (tennis!). Now it was time to watch how some of these were made.

Raddish included links for everything from a soccer ball to a baseball. We added in an old favorite video: check out the bowling ball factory nine minutes in (come for the bowling ball, stay for the jaw-dropping domino demonstration). Travis adores “how-it’s-made” videos like this and was a rapt audience.

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Now it was time to experiment with balls! Relying on what we had around the house, we gathered them into a pile and added a long yardstick.

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Bounce each ball and measure which goes the highest. Our clear winner was a squash ball (36 inches!) while others were duds like the soccer ball and baseball (about 9 or 10 inches).

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This prompted us to talk about why some balls were bouncy, and others not meant to be. (You can guide kids to think about how soccer balls are kicked, baseballs hit, etc., rather than meant to bounce).

For older kids, get into the specifics of kinetic energy here. The lesson was a bit over Travis’s head, but he did like watching a ball bounce in slow motion. We also tried experimenting with which balls bounced best in a certain direction but since all our balls were round (we couldn’t find our football) they all easily went into a target.

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Finally, we bounced them on a wood floor versus carpet, to observe any differences.

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Now for the best part: we made our own ball! Pour 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon borax into a clear cup and stir until the borax dissolves.

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In a second cup, combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons glue, and a few drops of food coloring. Travis chose a red ball.

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Add the glue mixture to the borax mixture. Your ball will start to firm up immediately. I worked the ball with my hands, dipping back into the borax as needed, until we had a nice round ball. Note: it is safe to touch Borax, but do remind your kids no matter their age that it is inedible.

Travis gave our ball a bounce – it worked!

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For some final fun, we painted with balls. Roll small balls like golf or ping pong ones in cups of paint.

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Place on a sheet of construction paper in a box. You can close the box and shake it, but Travis preferred to move the ball around with a chopstick.

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We finished with a few fun ball reads including: Round Like a Ball by Lisa Campbell Ernst and Goodnight Football by Michael Dahl.

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