Playing with balls inside the house is quite a thing for us. When our daughter was younger, she was not able to control the balls as well as she can now – it was a common occurrence for them to get away from her. Our kitchen is the kind you can walk through from one side of the house to the other. So, for some time, “no balls in the kitchen!” was frequently heard. This was not an arbitrary rule of authoritarian parents wanting to have it done “my way or the highway”. As you can easily imagine, there are legitimate safety concerns: elements, boiling water, hot oil, sharp implements, glass bowls, etc.
This wasn’t our only ball-related phrase either. Those slightly less frequently spoken included:
- We don’t throw balls at things!
- Watch out for the windows!
- Not in the bathroom!
- See what happens?
- Be more careful!
The repetitive “reading of the rules” and answering the inevitable “why?” response tended to sap the fun from the play. And to be fair though, it wasn’t always her who was at fault. 🙂 It began to feel like no balls in the house might be the better option.
But, balls are important play items! Balls are fun! Still, the rules were there for a reason… How can we have fun and still follow the rules?
Make it a Game!
Our daughter knew what the house-rules were, so it was straightforward to encourage her to come up with game-rules that included those requirements.
“In every job that must be done,
there is an element of fun.
You find the fun and
SNAP – the job’s a game!”
– Mary Poppins, 1964
Some examples we have used include:
- -1 point for hitting the ceiling
- Lose a turn if the ball gets away from you
- +1 point in the goal, but -1 point if the ball goes past the goal
“Extinction Event“ is one specific game that was spawned from this thinking. Here was a game where the whole point was to throw balls at things, with the pre-approved intent to knock them over. (This one also had the added benefit of leading to other learning during the gameplay)
The point of this story is that we have found various kinds of games to be useful for emphasizing certain values and rules as well as learning while still having fun. And, they help keep the raised voices contained to exultations of victory and cries of defeat! 🙂
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