Are you looking for a fun and easy way to incorporate movement into your child’s day? This game is so simple to put together and to play, but don’t let the simplicity fool you…. this game is rich in developing several of your child’s motor skills, plus it is so much fun for the kids to play! Some of the skills that this game will help your child to improve upon include:
- Eye-Hand Coordination
- Body Awareness
- Math Skills (yes, math skills…. see below for how to incorporate math into this game)
- Red Felt (a red marker or red construction paper would also work, but felt is the most durable option)
- Cardboard cut out in the shape of a heart
- 3-4 Ping pong balls (or any other small ball would work too)
- A small package of sticky sided Velcro (this part is important!)
- Tape (duct, book, or masking tape works best)
How To Construct
- Cut out a large heart shape out of cardboard
- Cut out a piece of red felt in the shape of a heart, but slightly larger than the cardboard heart
- Wrap the excess felt pieces over the edges of the heart
- Tape the excess pieces of felt over the edges of the cardboard (I found this works better than gluing the felt to the front of heart for appearance and stability purposes).
- Use the soft side of the Velcro to construct the eyes, nose, and mouth of the heart face. *Tip- The more Velcro you add to the face, the easier it will be for your child to get the ball to stick to the face, and the more “success” your child will have in the game. You may want to include ears, eyebrows, hair, etc…
- Stick pieces of the rough Velcro side around the ping pong balls. I used two small strips of Velcro per ping pong ball.
How To Play
Take or prop the heart up to a wall at a height that’s appropriate for your child to throw towards. Designate a line for your child to stand behind and then let the child throw the balls at the heart. After the child throws all the balls at the heart, the parent/ teacher can throw the balls back to the child (to work on catching skills) or have the child pick them up himself and return to the throw line and repeat.
How to Play (Smarter)
Develop Math Skills- (ages 1-3) Have the child count how many balls he has thrown and how many have landed on the heart.
(ages 4-8)Have the child keep score by writing down how many balls hit the heart and adding up consecutive turns to get a total score. Increase the difficulty by assigning varying point values for each of the facial features (for example, 5 points for each eye, 10 points for the nose, etc..) This will help with number recognition and addition skills. Work on subtraction skills by subtracting points for each ball that misses the target completely.
Therapist’s Tip- To help develop proper throwing skills, watch for the following body mechanics:
- Does the child use the same arm each time to throw the ball? (Hand dominance should start to be established around the age of 2 and should clearly be established by age 4)
- Is the child looking at the target as they are throwing the ball or does their head “watch” their arm (shows ability to separate body movements)
- Does the child take a small step with the foot that opposes their throwing arm? (shows proper body mechanics for throwing a ball)
- Can the child throw the ball without loosing balance (shows dynamic standing balance ability)
Enjoy this game year round but especially for Valentine’s Day party games for your child!!