I love exercise balls.
They’re huge, bouncy, and perfect to sit on. How can one sit on an exercise ball and not feel five years old and happy to be alive?
That said, our exercise ball has done wonders for my son.
For balance, we had him lie on the ball, belly down, and practice lifting an arm, a leg, and then various combinations. As long as he had two – he eventually got down to one – limbs touching the floor, he was able to precariously hold his ground.
For challenge mode, he then flipped over onto his back. We went a little slower with the lifting, accompanied by death-defying circus thrill music. Yes, my son has a soundtrack to his life.
Another game we loved playing was the sock-throw. I’m sure my son would now call it the sock-throw-ball-game-of Doom, because at the moment everything is the whatever-of-Doom. It’s just so impressive sounding. Even paper-folding these days is not just origami… it’s Origami-of-Doom!
First, we set up a basket or bucket. Then I’d gather up all of the socks and make sure they were in little roundish bundles. He would be at a bit of a distance – not too far, not too close – with knees on the floor and exercise ball in front of him.
Then, the throw! If he caught the sock, he could then roll forward onto the ball and pitch it into the bucket. And yes, the crowd would go wild if the sock made it into the bucket.
Finally, our exercise ball fulfilled its most important -and yet dullest-sounding – role. He sat on it while we played clapping games – and imitation games – to improve processing speed. Doesn’t sound like much, but he rose to the challenge, played games while sitting on that ball, and after a few months was able to multi-task at a level we hadn’t previously believed possible.
Now, we occasionally lug it out to play games with. Sometimes, it even serves as an extra chair.
It tickles me no end, however, when my son asks to play a ball game and then disappears to fetch the ball. I, of course, expect a tiny little thing like a tennis or rubber ball, but no… his arms are filled with the giant blue exercise ball, and he’s grinning from ear to ear.
Note: Here’s Part 1, in case anyone missed it. Also, I must give credit to our occupational therapist, Kaela, who introduced us to the exercise ball in the first place. We got ours a few years back from Sears – and it’s still going strong – for about eight dollars.