|Image from Open Clip Art Library|
I'm lucky to have worked with someone who really loved presenting baby storytimes. I was very hesitant about presenting this type of program at the start of my career, since I didn't have a lot of experience with babies. I was able to watch her do her thing and learned so much from her. One of the things she introduced me to was beach balls as a storytime prop.
The activity I first experienced comes from the CD Baby Games, by Priscilla Hegner. She has a song with instructions for placing a baby on their stomach on a beach ball, and then rolling them gently forward and back, from side-to-side, and in slow circles while singing Baa Baa Black Sheep. Some of my babies are too big to lay on the size of beach balls I have (their arms and legs touch the ground), so we also do it just sitting the baby on the ball and assisting them to stay upright. Never too early to start on core work right?
But this technique doesn't need to be limited to a set tune designed for this use. What about pretending the babies are surfing waves on the sea? You could gently mist the air with water to add the sensation of water, and include sound effects of waves or seagulls or listen to a Beach Boys song.
You could set the babies on the balls and pretend to drive cars forward and back, and round and round. The Learning Groove has a fun song set to the Blue Danube Waltz where you beep a car horn over and over. With the child on the ball, you could beep their tummy or their noses, or other body parts in addition to showing them how to beep.
Note: when blowing up the balls, It works best to leave them just a little shy of full plumpness. Ideally you want them full enough that they will still rock and roll with little effort, but soft enough that a baby won't slide right off. Test it out with a doll, puppet, or stuffed animal to see what I mean.
This type of activity works for me because I almost always have less than 10 babies at my storytimes. I blow the balls up ahead of time and then deflate them after we are through. The balls themselves are pretty affordable through sites like Oriental Trading Company, and if you have a hand pump (I've used the one from my exercise ball before) not too taxing on your lungs!
How are you using beach balls in your programming?
Links to actual products are for informational purposes only. I do not receive any compensation or other benefits.