Bounce it

3-5 years
Child Development
Vocabulary (speed and height words: e.g. high, medium, low; fast, slow); chanting; counting; writing numbers
1 medium sized ball
1 tennis ball
1 beach bucket per child
Physical Activity

Developing movement skills (bouncing, eye-hand coordination); participating with the children

How to Play
  1. Show the children how to drop and catch a medium-sized ball while standing.
  2. Encourage them to drop and catch as many times as possible in a row. Count the number of bounces and try to match or beat that number the next time. Help them write down the highest number reached.
  3. Keep count by chanting:
    1. One, to, three, ball bouncing.
      Four, five, six, still bouncing.
      Seven, eight, nine, keep going…
      Get to ten…begin again.
  4. Share the poem “Big” with the children. Invite discussion of new things they can do now they are BIG.
    1. BIG by Dorothy Aldis
      Now I can catch and throw a ball
      And spell
      Cat. Dog. 
      And Pig.
      I have finished being small
      And started
      Being Big.
  5. Children who use a walking frame, crutches, or canes to help with walking will benefit from sitting down so their hands are free to bounce the ball.
Change it up / Alternatives / Additional Options
  • Try bouncing and moving (e.g. follow a line, play follow-the-leader).
  • Change the rebound height by bouncing hard and soft. “Bounce low, tummy high, and reach for the sky.”
  • Older children might like to try bouncing a medium-sized ball with one hand (like a basketball).
  • Count and bounce on every second or third number (e.g. one, two, three, four; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…).
  • Bounce a tennis ball with one hand, holding a beach bucket or plastic container in the other hand. Catch the ball in the bucket.
    • As you do this, recite “Five Little Monkeys”…and bounce and catch the ball with the bucket each time the phrase “and bumped his head” comes around.
    • FIVE LITTLE MONKEYS by Anonymous
      Five little monkeys
      Jumping on the bed
      One fell off and bumped his head, [bounce and catch the ball in the bucket]
      Momma called the doctor and the doctor said [retrieve the ball from bucket]
      “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” [wag finger at the bucket]
      Four little monkeys…etc.
  • Read any one of the books about bouncing with the children.
    • Bouncing by Shirley Hughes
    • Bouncing on the Bed by Jackie French Koller
    • Bouncing Time by Patricia Hubbell

Excerpt from the HOP Early Learning Practitioners Resource (Decoda Literacy Solutions).