Toddler Activities With Playground Balls

By Victoria Georgoff
A variety of skills can be learned from playing with a ball.
A variety of skills can be learned from playing with a ball.

Children learn through moving and doing. Finding activities that engage your child is an essential part of his physical and cognitive development through toddlerhood. Using playground balls is an effective way to begin developing gross motor skills and improving your child’s muscle development and coordination. Playground balls are also low-cost and extremely versatile, making them a perfect toy that grows with your child through all the stages of development.

Bottle Bowling

Bowling is a favorite game for children of all ages, but the heavy bowling balls and slippery floors are dangerous for toddlers. Make your own bowling ally in your basement or backyard using a playground ball and empty 2-liter soda bottles. Make the bottles more colorful by painting the inside. Squirt acrylic paint into the bottles and carefully roll them around until the inside is coated, and leave the cap off until it has dried out. Once the bowling pins are complete, your child can kick, roll or throw the ball at the pins to see how many he can knock down.

Kick Ball

While your toddler is not ready for a true game of kick ball, a modified game might be the perfect way to practice the basic kick ball skills. Start by having your child kick a stationary ball, followed by running the bases. He might also enjoy being playfully chased by you as you try to “tag” him out. Have him practice kicking with both legs to keep muscle coordination balanced. Once he has mastered the beginning skill, he can try kicking a moving ball that you slowly roll to him before rounding the bases.

Gross Motor Skills Practice

Your toddler can practice several ball-handling skills with a little guidance. Your child will have fun playing with the ball while developing gross motor skills and coordination at the same time. According to, from 12 to 24 months of age, your toddler should begin learning to kick the ball. Once he reaches 24 to 36 months, he should be kicking the ball forward, and throwing the ball overhead. You can also show your tot to bounce the ball -- as a foundation to learn to dribble a basketball in the future -- and catch the ball. Even a game as simple as rolling the ball back and forth is promoting muscle development in your child.

Cause and Effect

As your child grows, he will become more interested in cause and effect, and in learning how and why things work. Support that curiosity by arranging a mini physics lesson for your tot using a playground ball. Have your child drop the ball from various heights and watch how high the ball bounces back. Arrange a makeshift ramp out of an ironing board and the stairs and have your child roll the ball down the ramp at different angles. He will notice that the steeper the angle, the more quickly the ball rolls down the ramp. Your child will enjoy playing with the ball and be learning at the same time.

About the Author

Victoria Georgoff has been writing professionally since 2007. Her articles have appeared in "The Journal of Sexual Medicine" and "The Encyclopedia of Sex & Society." A dually-licensed mental health counselor, with additional EMDR certification, Georgoff specializes in writing about parenting, education, sexual health and psychology, but also writes prolifically on many other topics. Georgoff holds an Master of Arts in counseling from Valparaiso University.