I have some students this year with extreme Latex allergies that have been unable to participate in some of the kinesthetic learning activities incorporated in our Middle School Health class. Thus, the challenge to locate a Latex-free ball became a major target that I wanted to aim for before this school year ended. Hours of my time before and after school was filled with both phone calls and researching to attempt to locate allergen-free physical activity products. When I finally discovered that S&S Worldwide made some Latex-free products, I began celebrating! Finally!!! I was so excited that these Latex-free gator balls would actually be able to be touched by those allergy-prone students. The first time that one of my students was able to join in the game, the entire group of 8th graders began clapping simultaneously. This young man’s life was socially, mentally, emotionally and physically improved because of this.
Here are a few of the games we play in the classroom once we have accomplished our Health Objective.
Silent Ball is played when there is at least 5 minutes left in the class that we enjoy playing inside the classroom. The students love it as a reward for having accomplished our daily learning objective. This also really motivates the students to stay on task.
Students stand in a circle within the classroom. The game begins when the teacher says the following words: “Silence begins now.” From this point on, even accidentally, no words or sounds may be heard. The ball is tossed across to another student, but may not be passed to a neighbor and no pass-backs are allowed. This is not dodge ball, therefore no pegging is allowed. If it is a bad throw, the thrower is out. Eye contact is encouraged to be certain that the student thrown to catches it and to be certain that the catcher is ready. Play continues back and forth, student to student, but in complete silence. A student is out when there is a bad throw or bad catch or if a sound is made. When a student gets out, they must sit or stand outside of the circle area. It is hard to remain quiet when they want to laugh and talk which makes it even more fun. When only 6 students are left, both neighbor passes and pass-backs become legal, which increases the speed of the game even more. The game continues until there is a winner! In my class, the winner wins a bottle of water!
Healthy MyPlate Ball Games
Within our Health curriculum, our class learns about the Healthy MyPlate and its 5 Food Groups. I have purposefully bought 5 specific gator skin colored balls corresponding to each of the MyPlate food group colors as listed on ChooseMyPlate.gov.
- Red ball – Fruits
- Green ball – Vegetables
- Orange ball – Grains
- Purple ball – Protein
- Blue ball – Dairy
The following are three Healthy MyPlate games we play to reinforce our subject matter. To reinforce the student’s learning of the Healthy MyPlate, we use the appropriate Food Group with a food example as described above in the 5 bulletin points.
When seated, students pass the ball around the room down the rows from desk to desk. Students try to identify a fruit example with the red ball or a dairy example with the blue ball, etc., when it is their turn. If a student cannot think of one, they say pass.
This same concept can also be done standing up. Students then only pass the ball to a student with their hand raised indicating that they can name a food example that corresponds. (For example: If fruit was the category, I would use the red ball and toss it underhand to a student with their hand raised who would name one. Of course, everyone wants to play, so hands go flying and they are quickly practicing recall of foods in each group.)
- 2 containers
- 10 Gator Skin Softi Balls – 2 each of Red, Green, Orange, Purple, Blue (you can get these individually or as a pack of 6)
I divide the class into 2 teams lined up along opposing walls if played inside. (If outside, they stand on 2 horizontal lines that face one another like 2 opposing sides of a basketball court.) Each team has 5 Food Group balls in a container placed in the center of the room or court between the 2 lines; therefore, two separate containers containing 5 balls of different colors in each. The container should contain 1 ball from each color per side so that each side has 5 balls in all to choose from. Students have been numbered off and must remember their number. (For example, Team 1 has students #1-15 and Team 2 has students #1-15.) I then call out a number and a Food example, such as #8 Broccoli. Now, the two #8 students from each side quickly go to the container and grab the ball that they think represents the food group. (For example, since “broccoli” was called, they would grab a green ball since broccoli is in the Vegetable Group. If “watermelon” was called, students would grab the red ball for Fruit.) Each team’s score is kept and once all #1-15 have been called, just add the score and declare the Winning Team!
Author: Sherry Dale, Health and Wellness Educator at West Valley Middle School