These simple core strengthening ideas use a simple prop that almost everyone has on hand!
When you think of kids and their favorite toys, what is the most universal one that comes to mind? A ball, of course!
Balls can be used indoors or out, they can be dribbled, bounced, tossed, kicked or caught, and they can be large or small. One thing is for sure, kids love balls! And, guess what? So do pediatric physical and occupational therapists!
Why? Because they are the perfect props for promoting a ton of developmental skills for kids.
One of the most important aspects of child development that we talk about at The Inspired Treehouse is core strengthening. A child with a strong core is a child who thrives.
And when it comes to building core strength with kids, a simple playground ball is a great place to start!
Building Core Strength With a Playground Ball
Here are some of our favorite core strengthening exercises to do with a playground ball. Best part? Kids think they are SO fun!
1 || Wall Ball
Cut out shapes or letters and place them all over a vertical surface such as a wall or door. Position the child an arm’s length away from the wall.
Place a playground ball on the wall and have the child place her hands on the ball to maintain its position.
Then, call out shapes or letters and have the child roll the ball to touch each one as it is called. The child must use their core muscles to stabilize the rest of their body so that nothing moves but her arms to roll the ball.
2 || Ball Pass Sit-Ups
Have the child lie on her back on the floor with the ball between her knees and her hands overhead.
Encourage her to press her belly button down to the floor to activate her core muscles and then slowly bring arms and legs toward each other so that she can grab the ball from between her knees and take it overhead.
Repeat this movement to bring the ball back to hold it between the knees. Try for a set of 10! Ask her to count her repetitions so that you know she is breathing.
3 || Partner Pass Sit-Ups
This game is for two or more players. Have kids lie on their backs on the floor. One child’s toes should be touching the other’s. Give one child a ball.
Repeat the movements of ball pass sit-ups, but this time, instead of placing the ball between her knees when she sits up, the child will throw the ball to her friend!
See how many passes the set of partners can make before someone drops the ball! Encourage him to call out the name of the friend he is passing to for breath control.
4 || Hands & Knees Roll Outs
Encourage a child to get in the quadruped position (on all fours). Place a ball under her right hand. Place colored spots, pieces of tape, or objects just out of reach on the floor in front of her at various positions.
Have her roll the ball forward with her hand to touch each of the objects without moving out of the quadruped position. This requires stabilization of the core muscles to maintain balance when one extremity is moving.
Try this with each hand and each foot. Next, try with two balls. One ball under the right hand and one under the left foot. Can she roll the balls at the same time — forward and back, diagonal and back.
5 || Tall Knee Catch
Position the child in tall kneeling. Position yourself in a tall kneel position about 10’ away, directly across from him.
Toss the ball to him at his midline a few times so that he gets the hang of playing catch. Then, start challenging his core strength and stability by throwing the ball slightly away from midline. Throw it high, low, to the left and right. How many can he get before he drops one? This activity is also great with a weighted ball for an older child who needs a bigger challenge.
6 || Ball Squeeze
Position the child in standing, with legs about hip width apart. Give her a ball and ask her to squeeze it as hard as she can with both hands held at chest height. As she is squeezing, ask her to count to 10 out loud. This simple activity results in some major core activation!