Make Your Own Soccer Ball

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After reading about homemade soccer balls used by kids the world over, specifically in Zimbabwe thanks to a Highlights magazine article, Travis was inspired to make his own! We sort of winged it on this one, but our little ball turned out great.

We only needed three items: a plastic bag, old newspaper, and string.

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First I helped Travis wad up newspaper and stuff into one small (3 gallon) plastic bag.

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I knotted it when about half full and pulled the bag inside out around the knot for a double layer. This was our “core.” We then repeated with a second bag and more newspaper, securing with a second knot and fold over.

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Knead with your hands into a more round shape if your ball is looking a bit oval. Now tie string around the outside. Four strings held ours tight.

Time to go play!

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Travis loved playing pass and taking shots on a goal. We were both so pleased with how well it rolled and held up.

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Next time you find yourself without a ball, don’t be daunted: make one!

Game of Soccer

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Now that spring is here, I’m taking Veronika on more outdoor excursions. One great way to spend time with your almost-six-month-old is to catch a local game of soccer! Not only will watching the action strengthen his or her eye muscles and tracking skills, but there is so much to see and talk about, and great new vocab to teach.

For Veronika, the soccer “game” was actually big brother’s practice. If you don’t have a big sib or friend to watch play, consider catching a local elementary school game, or even watching the big kids from a high school nearby!

Either way, Veronika seemed to love the atmosphere right away, soaking up the sun on a blanket despite an unusually chilly spring morning. I brought along a little ball so she could enjoy the tactile element, as well.

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We watched the big kids move down the field. I pointed out all their motions to her, which involved some great verbs. Running:

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Drills where they dribbled or tapped cones with their feet:

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She was very absorbed watching it all – quite the little spectator!

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In sum, a game of soccer is a beautiful way to spend some time with your baby, long before he or she is old enough to play.

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Early Explorers Sports



This month’s offering from Early Explorers, all about sports, was a fantastic one for getting active and introducing new games that even mom and dad didn’t know about! The booklet not only had us doing normal preschool activities – mazes, matching, patterns – but also brushing up on yoga poses and learning about neat new sports.

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And of course putting stickers on our map.

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Sports Craft: 

First up was making a game of tabletop soccer. First, glue green construction paper down into the bottom of a shoebox. We actually found that the shoebox lid worked better, since the sides weren’t as high.

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Use white paint to mimic the lines of a soccer field. Travis liked watching and naming the shapes I painted (which bigger kids can do themselves). 

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Fold pipe cleaners into the shape of goals and tape down. Now all you need is a pom pom and two straws to play. Players take turns blowing toward the opponent’s goal, while the person on defense tries to blow the pom pom away.

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Great fun!

Sports Science:

Ok, perhaps the following activity isn’t science, but since the booklet didn’t have anything that properly fit into this category, this will do: learning new games from around the world. The first, Semut, Orang, Gajah sounded like the Sumatran equivalent of Rock, Scissors, Paper but we got to learn cool new words and hand gestures. Here’s Travis with his semut (ant!) ready to defeat my gajah (elephant).

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The next game was a bit of a pickle: an Armenian form of egg jousting (!) played around Easter, where children crack hard-boiled eggs together until the loser’s egg cracks. How to veganize such neat sounding fun? I needed a food that would crack easily… So here we are chip jousting!

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It might not have been authentic, but it was certainly a delight.

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Sports Keepsake:

Travis loved the paddle ball from “Max and Mia” that came in this kit. He was determined to master the game, and I liked that it introduced him to a new activity.

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Sports Field Trip:

We had to go see a sport being played, naturally! Looking for cheap family fun? Check out minor league teams in your area. You’ll get great seats right up close to the action but minus the crowds, prices, and noise of major league parks. If you can’t make it to a local sporting event, tune into something on TV as a family and discuss the new game.

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Sports Further Activities:

We wanted to take the booklet’s suggestion and try a game we’d never played before. Little Passport’s blog post on games from around the world was the perfect resource. Okay, so we didn’t have enough players for a true game of Egyptian Drop the Handkerchief, but Travis loved diving in to catch it before the count of 5.

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We also got a great dose of physical activity with a family obstacle course. Stops along the course included: navigating a crepe paper spider web;

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and paper cup golf.

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As always, we hit up the library to further our exploration, opting for books on sports not featured in our packet.


We talked about our favorite and Travis said his was baseball.

Finally, hit up the park and just play! Toss a football, kick a soccer ball, play a game of croquet, or whatever else suits your family’s fancy. Many thanks to this kit for getting us moving.

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S Week!


Welcome to our S week of play! As always, thanks to Letter of the Week for some of the ideas below. Travis was funny about the letter, since my prompts that a word began with a “sss” sound made him think we were in C-week for soft c words. It turned into a joke, me pointing to our S poster, and him still saying “C!” Confusion aside, here’s some of the fun we had.


Shadows: We kicked off the week with shadow dancing! It was such a magical moment that it merited a blog post all its own, so please check out the link above. Shadows are also great for making animal shapes against the wall, or just observing as you walk outside in autumn sunlight.


Sun/Sail/Sand: A few Summer-y words made it a beach-y week here in the fall. Cute sun projects included making a sun on a stick (a yellow painted paper plate with orange construction paper for the center)…


… and magic sun prints.The result was cool even for me as a grown-up!

We then set up an indoor beach day with blankets for water and sand (with our sun on a stick of course!) and pulled out sand toys for make believe inside. To add to the s-themed fun, we turned one of his blankets into a “sailboat” and sailed around the room.


Meanwhile, there was so much to do with sand that I devoted a blog post to it. For simple sand play, just fill an indoor bin with a layer of sand and set out cars and street signs, then have your child draw roads through the sand with a stick or spatula.


Soccer: This word was perfect for our gross motor play of the week. Get outside and kick around a ball!


Shaving cream: As simple as can be; have some good old goopy fun and finger paint with shaving cream. Your toddler will thank you.


Stars: We had fun making a starry starry night painting, using both cookie cutters and sponges in the shape of stars to stamp onto construction paper. Travis added moons too, making for a very creative night sky! To continue the star fun, put together a toddler-sized pair of binoculars and head outside to spot the real thing before bed.

A few other things we did this week:

Fine art: Make a sand anthill! You could do this by sprinkling sand onto glue and pressing down, but we used sandpaper for our hill, and added thumbprint ants. Travis had so much fun that our anthill was soon teeming with denizens.


Food: Lots to choose from… we enjoyed both whole strawberries and strawberry pancakes for breakfast, and had soup one afternoon for lunch.


Books: It wasn’t the right time of year to play games in the snow, but we talked about the word with the help of two books: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Cat and Mouse in the Snow by Tomek Bogacki. Travis also enjoyed Sea, Sand, Me! by Patricia Hubbell and No Sleep for the Sheep! by Karen Beaumont.

Song: It was a no-brainer to introduce Travis to the Snowman, one of the most magical videos from my own childhood! More properly an instrumental video than a song, this classic hasn’t lost any of its beauty. Travis’s smile when the snowman came to life was priceless.

Math: I gently introduced the concept of subtraction with the help of a few more stars. Cut out paper stars and have your child make “shooting stars” flutter away one by one, counting how many remain. I promise it’s a coincidence that Travis was in his star pajamas!


There’s always lots we can’t get to of course. You might also want to play with snakes or go on a safari, or have soapy fun with dish soap. Please add your other S ideas in the comments!