Baby Storytime: Using Beach Balls

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?
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  1. OK, I have NEVER seen this idea before but it sounds like so much fun! And I do like the idea of working those muscles and the vestibular and proprioceptive senses! Thank you!

    1. There you go with all the big words for what I summed up as "core work." Thanks for having the biggest kid-related vocabulary of anyone I know.

  2. I have never heard of this either but now I'm going to try it with my own Test Subject Baby at home.

  3. This sounds like great fun for the moms & babes, and so beneficial for developing their sense of balance & movement (as Melissa pointed out)
    Your blog is bursting with great ideas! I'd like to follow it , but I'm not sure how the RS feed thing works :) I usually sign up to receive emails of new posts, but I don't see that option here. Can you help me with this? Thanks!

    1. Thanks for letting me know that's a feature you would like, Amanda. I added a subscribe by email option to the sidebar on the right! I know RSS isn't for everyone, but I would be lost without it! There's a couple links to some RSS tutorials on the Flannel Friday website if you want to learn more about it. Check out this link:

  4. I was actually cruising your site when you adde the email option - I thought I missed seeing before & was feeling really dweebie LOL!
    Thanks for adding the feature, Amy.
    Is the RSS a good way to organize a lot of blog "subscriptions"?
    Right now they're starting to fill up my inbox, but I've been a bit nervous about trying something unfamiliar.

    1. That's exactly what it's great for. I subscribe to 324 blogs, so you can imagine what that would be like if it all came in my email! :) I'm a devout Google Reader user, but since they just announced they will be retiring on July 1st, I'm going to give a try because it will supposedly "play nice" with my existing Reader account.


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