My children are completely enamored with ping pong balls. They bounce beautifully, they’re too light to hurt you, and there always seems to be some lying around. Of course, anything my children love to play with, I try to find an educational use for. With that in mind, here are 10 different educational activities you can do with ping pong balls, a marker, and a pencil and paper.
Letter Recognition (Prek-K)
This is great for those preschoolers or kindergartners just learning their letters. They can pull the balls from the jar, say the name of their letter, and then write the letter down. It’s a fun way to keep them interested and motivated.
Shapes Recognition (Prek-3rd)
This activity is similar to letter recognition. The children pull a ball out of the jar with a shape drawn on it. They must name the shape and then draw it on a piece of paper. As they get older, the shapes can become more complicated and can compliment geometry lessons.
Reading CVC Words (Prek-1st)
This game is about the most fun you’ll have reading those early, beginning words. You’ll need two jars of ping pong balls, one for consonants and one for vowels. The child must pick out 2 consonant balls and 1 vowel ball. They then try to make a word. If the letters don’t make a word they can place them back in the jar and try again. You won’t have trouble getting your 20 minutes of reading homework done if you pull this out.
Write beginning and ending word blends on the ping pong balls. The children take turns pulling a ball out and reading the blend. They must then come up with a word with that blend and write it down on their paper.
Write digraphs down on the ping pong balls. When the children pull out a ball, they must write down a word with that digraph.
This activity will just grow with you. Start with pulling out 2 balls, numbers 1-10, and find the sum. Then add a 3rd ball/addend. When they are ready you can upgrade the balls to double digit numbers.
Greater Than, Less Than (1st-2nd)
You will need to create a greater than symbol. Then have the children pull out two balls and place them on the correct side of the symbol.
This activity is very similar to addition. Start with numbers 1-10. Pull out two balls and multiply them together. When the children are ready you can add 2 digit numbers into the mix.
Alphabetical Order (1st-2nd)
Write vocabulary words on the balls. Have the children pull them from the jar, and arrange them in alphabetical order.
Write your spelling words on the ping pong balls. Have the children pull them out, one at a time, and write the word out on paper. You could also do a team spelling activity. Assign each child a partner. Have one person pull out the ball and test the other on how to spell the word.
Just a word of warning, once the children start playing, they don’t want to stop. Also, the balls have a mind of their own and tend to wander off, so having a plate of sand, sugar, or beans to set the balls in as they come out of the jar is not a bad idea.
We hope you enjoy these games as much as we have. If you have any great ideas that we haven’t come up with, we’d love to hear them. Share your thoughts in a comment below.