Bouncing Balls

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

If you’ve been following the World Cup Games in South Africa recently you know the passion that people around the world have for a simple round ball.

Spheres made of leather and manmade materials have challenged and amused people for generations. Throwing, serving, hitting, passing, kicking, dribbling and bouncing balls are actions that play key roles in a host of popular games.

Why not put the passion for balls to work in elementary classrooms to catch and keep K – 5 students’ attention!

I knew a teacher years ago who taught third grade students their multiplication tables with a pink tennis-size rubber ball. Ms. Gregory was ahead of her time. She would announce that every member of the class who was prepared to sit up, look up and listen up would get a turn at bouncing the ball to math tables. Ms. Gregory would begin the activity with a ball bouncing demonstration and cheer. “Two, four, six, eight…what do we appreciate?”  “Multiplication! Multiplication!”  The class would reply with mounting excitement.

Any kid in Ms. Gregory’s class who kept the ball bouncing and the math answers correct got to keep possession – a prize in itself!  This gifted teacher would start with easy sequences, counting by two’s. When the class was ready she advanced everyone to counting by three’s and so on. She got good results.

The trick to the bouncing multiplication ball was connecting spoken math answers with the action of bouncing the ball and the repeated sound that the ball made hitting the classroom floor. In American style football you could call it an “action play” for learning.

Did I mention the word fun yet? It’s a “no-brainer” that elementary children jump at any chance to play while they learn. Like I said, Ms. Gregory was ahead of her time.

If you like this teaching trick, you’ll be pleased to know that it works just as well with other activities as it does with helping children master multiplication. Check out future posts on Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers for more ideas on bouncing balls inside elementary classrooms.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

Barbara The Lovable Poet


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