Home ball pits are all the rage these days, and it’s easy to see why!
They’re relatively inexpensive, kids love them, they’re a great sensory experience, and by having one at home, you don’t have to worry about other people’s nasty germs!
However, as fun as they are, like everything, the novelty wears off eventually, and now you have this massive thing cluttering up your playroom and your kids are no longer interested. Sound familiar?
I can help!
Here are several creative ideas for new ways to play with your ball pit that will spark your kids’ interest in it all over again- and maybe even help them learn a little!
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#1- Rescuing Animals
Oh no! The animals are drowning in the balls! Can your little rescuers save them in time?
(This activity is even better when combined with a pretend animal hospital! Find out more about how to set one up in this post.)
#2- Colored Ball Drop
I was inspired by Smart Playroom’s pvc ball drop (Check out her Instagram post) but… I was looking for something a little cheaper and easier than that, so I made my own with card stock. Granted, it’s not as durable- I considered laminating all the sheets first, and eventually I may need to do that and make another one. Still, if you’re looking for quick and simple, here it is!
First, cut a piece of cardboard to be about an inch wider than a piece of paper (I considered painting it, but I’m glad I didn’t bother, since you can’t see the cardboard once it’s finished anyway). Roll a piece of colored cardstock and hold the two ends together with a small piece of tape.
Next, run a long piece of duct tape down the seam on the inside, place it on the cardboard, and wrap the ends around the back of the cardboard to hold it in place.
Repeat with the rest of the colors.
Trim the extra cardboard off the end, then run a piece of duct tape across the top to hold it all together!
Hang it on the wall above your ball pit- and play!
This toy was totally irresistible! Toddlers can drop the balls in, preschoolers can practice sorting them by color, and older kids can practice throwing!
#3- Number Hunt
Easy Peasy! Just write the numbers 1-10 on a set of balls, and toss them back in!
Then challenge your child to find them all! If you want to make it even trickier, make them find the numbers in order. You could also call out math problems and have them find the answer, or have them find a number and then count out that quantity of balls.
Obviously, you could write the alphabet as well and use it for
- Letter recognition
- Practicing their name
- Making sight words
- Phonics and word work
#4- Alphabet Target Practice
By hanging a giant poster of the alphabet above your ball pit, you open up all sorts of avenues for learning!
This poster will grow with them through so many stages of development!
- Toddlers can just try to hit any circle
- Then they can aim for a specific color (matching the ball to the color target is a bonus!)
- Preschoolers can practice letter recognition by aiming for certain letters
- If you do decide to write letters on a set of balls, they can hunt for the letters and try and hit the matching one (you could write lowercase letters to increase the challenge)
- Kindergarten and older kids can practice spelling and sight words by trying to hit all the letters in a word in order! (if they’re really good at it, make them start the word over every time they miss!)
To make your own, download this free printable of all the letters in circles;
Print them on six different colored pieces of cardstock or paper. I used neon cardstock for all the colors except purple so the letters would stand out. Pastel would work too, depending on your decor!
Cut the circles out and glue them onto black posterboard (it makes the colors pop so much more!)
Hang it above your ball pit and enjoy!
#5- Invent a Giant Marble Run!
This is a great STEM challenge for school aged kids! Ours used sheets of lightweight cardboard and painter’s tape- it was challenging not only to shape the ramps, but also to figure out how to stick them on the wall so the balls would roll from one to another. You could vary the level of challenge by providing different materials.
It’s also fun to create ball runs using different types of toys like blocks or other building toys. Here’s one using some pieces from our Fort Magic kit! This activity really forces kids to think, plan, and problem solve!
#6- Toss some balls in a bath or kiddie pool!
Kids will love taking a bath with a bunch of ball pit balls- with bubbles or without! It adds such a fun new element of play!
You can do the same thing in a kiddie pool- find out how to make this amazing bubbly ball pit at My Small Potatoes.
#7- Make a Nerf Gun Target Game
Find out how at Frugal Fun for Boys! How cool is that?
#8- Make a Color Sorting Game
This color sorting board looks pretty easy to make, folds flat for storage, and would stay fun for a long time! Find out how to make your own at Minne-Mama!
#9-Use the Balls with a DIY Bowling Game!
Find out how to make these cool bowling pins with recycled materials at U Create Crafts! Easy and pretty!
#10- Play Color Skee Ball
This is another activity that uses ball pit balls and can be set up easily using recycled materials! Find the full tutorial at I Can Teach My Child.
#11- Set up a Ball Pit Transfer Game
This activity is a great way for toddlers to practice fine motor skills and work on hand-eye coordination! Toddlers love scooping and sorting and moving things around, so this one is sure to be a hit! Find out more at Plain Vanilla Mom.
#9- Sort Balls into a Muffin Tin
This awesome idea from Fun Things to Do With Kids is another great fine motor activity that should keep toddlers busy for a while! You can extend it by challenging them to match colors or to make different patterns.
Which activity are you most excited to try?
What other creative ways have your kids played with their ball pit? Leave a comment and let me know!
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