Today, we’re sharing some fun ways to play with one of our favorite therapy toys…The Zoom Ball!
A therapist’s bag is a magical thing. Kids can’t help themselves from digging through our treasures, knowing that we have all of the best toys and supplies!
Occupational Therapists carry around a lot of little things — they love play dough, fidgets, and fun toys like Squigz — to encourage grasping skills, hand strengthening, and more!
Physical Therapists love the big stuff — we always have the BEST balls, stepping stones, large dice, and scooters. Last week, I asked the kids I see in therapy to pick their favorite toy out of my therapy bag as their “treat” at the end of the session. By far, the most commonly chosen item was the Zoom Ball!
Kids see it as a football that zooms through the air on two strings – a fun and fast game.
As a PT, I see it as a prop for encouraging tons of developmental skills like balance, bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, and strength.
5 Fun Ways to Play with the Zoom Ball
1 || Back and Forth — this is the way this toy was intended to be used. Two people stand far enough apart to make the strings of the toy tight and zoom it back and forth between each other.
We like to see how many times we can play before we “mess up”. It usually takes a bit of time for a child to get her body coordinated enough to make that little ball move but, once she does, look out! The trick? Keep the body upright and move your hands out to the side smoothly without pulling back. Bilateral coordination (using both sides of the body at the same time) — Check!
2 || Kneel Down — No matter how you play with the Zoom Ball you’ll activate the core muscles. But when you take away some of the stability that is available when standing on two feet, those core muscles kick into high gear. Try kneeling on both knees or half kneeling with one knee forward (a lunge position).
3 || Standing on One Foot — When a child gets “bored” with the game and/or says it is “too easy” I chuckle a bit because I know I have more tricks up my sleeve to increase the challenge! Try playing while standing on one foot!! It’s harder than it looks!
4 || Use a Foam Pad — Once again, we are upping the balance challenge! Have your child stand on a foam pad to play the game. If both feet on the wobbly surface is too challenging, first try one foot on the foam pad with the other foot on solid ground.
5 || Vary the arm movements — After a child can smoothly move the Zoom Ball back and forth by moving their arms out to their sides, I have them try to move their arms up and down (like an alligator chomping). This just makes them think a bit harder about their movements and adds a major bilateral coordination challenge.
Do you use the Zoom Ball with your kids? What are your favorite ways to play? We’d love to hear! Leave us a comment below!
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Great ideas! I have had the kids do the alligator chomp or diagonal arm motions. Want a really hard challenge? Zoom ball prone over a ball!
Love that you shared this post on FB. My daughter was just talking about this from her brother’s OT sessions and I didn’t know what she was talking about until now. Pinned!
Robin Cudlitz says
I use zoom ball to work on Right and left discrimination. I call out directions to pick up your right hand, Left Hand, Left Hand, etc. Also works on following Directions
I use it in high kneeling position and have even thought lying prone on tummy would be great for their postural tone.
Robbie Waldron,PT says
I use the Zoom Ball every day in therapy. Do you know anyone who is selling the original Zoom Ball like the one you have pictured. I have not been able to find one in the past couple of years. When you use them too much the nylon lines get frazzled. Just wondered.
Marti Capuco says
I use the Zoom ball as also a cognitive task…counting by 2’s, 5’s or 10’s….spelling a word with each person contributing the letter in the correct sequence, etc. it is a great workout so I enjoy it too!
Such a great idea Marti! What a great way to make working on academic concepts fun and active! Thanks so much for sharing!
I rubberband toys to ball, usually superheros, barbie dolls, etc. ” Going for a ride”, ” To save the day”, etc.
JoAnn Kennedy says
Have a parent and child each hold one of the handles and synchronize their movements to send the ball to me. Works on timing and teamwork. I also recite poetry while ‘zooming’ to work on rhythm.
We also work on convergence and divergence with the eyes as we focus on the ball coming or going!
We increase balance challenges by also having them stand on an inflated cushion/disc or wobble board. Tall kneel is also challenging and tiring for some children!
Ive been following you for years and one way I use with select kiddos/geri’s in wheelchair’s is to loop their handles over handles ( behind, or to sides) and shorten the distance ,and let them pull the strings! Reminds me of the finger version using a button and string, to pull with fingers and make it “hum”!
Thanks for keeping the creative juices flowing!
Thanks for sharing this informative blog post!