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Need some rainy day games with a ball or indoor recess activities for kids?
Want to learn the magic of silent ball on a rowdy group of kids?
Or have you worn out the tried and true silent ball and need a new challenge?
I’ve been a Movement/Yoga/Mindfulness teacher of kids for over 6 years now, and I know that not every kid likes yoga. But most kids love group games!
Some days I’m tired of yoga myself and we just need to play games with a ball.
I had to come up with a bunch of group games and make them fit into my yoga and mindfulness curriculum.
Yoga games with a ball maybe don’t seem very much like yoga, but I made it work.
I’ve learned that almost any game can be modified a little bit to emphasize stretching, strength, or mindfulness!
The three tenets of my kid’s yoga classes 🙂
Since I’m not in a gymnasium and I don’t have a big classroom I had make sure my games worked for a smaller space. We also can’t be yelling or loud since there are 1st grade classes on either side of the thin walls.
I needed to come up with a list of games to play that could be done in a smaller space, with little to no running.
These are the balls that I use in my classroom, and here’s another option that’s a little easier to grab onto for little kids (yes, I know it’s for dogs but it works great!).
Here’s my list of games with a ball that you can play in a group, several of them are very yoga friendly!
Yep, this is a classic ball game and it works on most classes like magic. I play with my kids frequently because it also requires them to be mindful, use focused concentration, good eye contact, and have awareness of body language.
It also gives me like 10 minutes of blessed silence, which, when I have 9 classes of 40 minutes back to back I really need some silence occasionally.
All kids stand, in a circle or wherever they choose. Pass the ball to each other without talking. If you talk, you are out. Emphasize the importance of paying attention and using good eye contact.
- If you make a bad throw, you are out
- Dropping the ball or missing a good catch gets you out
- Being a poor sport gets you out or keeps you out
- Only the teacher or the “caller” decides who is out or in
You can add other “rules” too. The top three are always in effect, but you can add challenges to make it more interesting and add a level of mindfulness as well:
- Throw AND catch with one hand behind your back
- Stand in tree pose
- Close one eye
- Overhead throws with two hands only
- Boy-girl pattern (only throw to a person of another gender)
- Long sleeve/short sleeve pattern
- Snake eyes only (look at one person but throw to another)
This is a fun circle game with a ball that has the added element of competition.
Prep for the game by teaching kids wide-legged forward fold (the yoga element!). Feet are glued to the ground wider than hip distance apart, toes facing forward. Bend at the hips to lean forward and reach the ground. You may bend your knees slightly.
Once they all know that pose, get them into a circle with their feet touching the person next to them. This is the hardest part. I have them sit in a circle first, then stand up one at a time and place their feet apart. The next person to stand up matches one foot to the other person’s and stands with their feet far apart as well.
Once in the circle with all the kids standing in a wide stance and their feet touching their neighbors, each student will effectively have made a “goal” that is between their legs.
A ball is in the middle and gets rolled across the circle by the kids to try to score a goal by getting it between someone else’s legs. They also have to protect their own goal by hitting the ball away from their legs as it gets closer.
Rules for arm hockey:
- Push the ball with a flat hand (not your fist)
- Keep the ball on the floor
- Glue your feet to the floor (this is really tough, as they automatically want to step into the circle to get closer to the ball to hit it)
- Keep the ball moving (don’t grab it or stop it)
When the ball goes between someone’s legs they are “out” and either leave the circle or can sit down in wide-legged forward fold.
If they do the latter they can still play as long as they don’t grab the ball. This is sometimes the better choice because readjusting the size of the circle can be tricky.
Add in more balls as they get better at it for added fun and excitement!
This is like tennis, but with the ball on the floor, and the court is the mat. Also, you guessed, you have to be in plank the whole time!
Most of the time I let the kids play one on one, or in pairs. If you only have one or two balls for the class, you can get in a circle and play it a lot like Arm Hockey as well. (That way they can also take breaks if they get tired.)
First, teach them a proper plank, shoulders over hips and in line with heels.
If holding plank is too advanced for them, you can also play it in table top. Give them reminders about engaging their core, and maybe encourage them to have one foot straight back the whole time.
If in pairs, have one child at either end of the yoga mat, facing each other. Plank time! Pass the ball back and forth. If one person misses, the other gets a point. If one person falls or lowers down, the other gets a point. Let the kiddos help you come up with other rules and expectations too!
Add a challenge of keeping the ball on the mat the whole time (out of bounds means the other person gets a point!
Legs up the wall/Plow ball pass
This is a fun game to play either against a wall, in a circle, or pairs.
The object is the pass the ball only using your feet as many times as possible without the ball falling.
It requires strength, coordination and concentration, all great yoga elements.
Lay on your back with your feet straight up and hands by your sides or supporting your low back to lift your hips higher. If against the wall, pass the ball down the line and back again.
If you’re in a circle, see how many times you can pass the ball around the circle without dropping it.
For pairs, have the kids lay head to head and go from low boat to shoulder-stand essentially, passing the ball back and forth as many times as possible.
This game also works with yoga blocks instead of a ball!
A classic game with a ball. Or a beanie baby, or a block, or something a tiny bit fragile so they have to be super careful!
Stand or sit in a circle. Start some music and pass the “potato” as quickly as you can. When the music stops, the person with the “potato” is out. If you throw the potato, or fail to catch the passed potato you may also be out (lack of focused concentration in either case).
You can the rule of silence, if needed. (I usually need it!!)
Earth / Air / Sea
I like this game for older kids mostly, since it requires more thinking as well as coordination.
It’s another game with a leader in the middle. As the leader passes the ball to a player they say either “Earth,” “Air,” or “Sea.”
The person who catches it must name an animal or a thing that resides within that realm. (Earth-wolf, air-robin, sea-dolphin, etc.…). If they fail to name an item within 3 seconds, they are out. If they name something that is not correctly qualified, they are also out.
With my 5th grade class we eventually added the rules of: no immediate repeats, no repeating what you yourself said, and no proper nouns. Some of them got really clever and creative!
This is a fun game of concentration and, eventually, speed. Everyone starts standing. You throw the ball to someone else, and then sit down. Your job is to remember who threw it TO you.
Once everyone is seated, the game starts again but in reverse. Everyone stand up again, and the last person that received the ball, throws it to the person that threw it to them, and so on, sitting down again as you go.
If it gets back to the person who started and everyone is sitting again, you win!
I’ve played this game with kids as young as Kindergarten, but it takes a lot of extra explaining. 2nd grade and up works best.
Add the extra challenge of having voices off the whole time, and timing the process to see how quickly you can go.
Push and Catch
This game with a ball is fun and fast paced. The leader (in the middle, or on one side of a row) has the ball to start. As they throw the ball, they shout either “push” or “catch.” The person receiving must do the OPPOSITE of the action called out. If they fail the task, they sit down.
It helps to have one person assigned as the “runner” to catch the ball if it was not caught. (I usually choose the kid who has way too much energy to follow directions in the first place).
Set up 10 blocks like bowling pins. Take turns rolling the ball into the blocks to knock them all down! Go more quickly with two sets of 5 blocks and a bowling “competition.”
Try some other bowling challenges, like:
- Use your non-dominant hand
- Between your legs (forwards)
- Backwards between your legs
- Spin three times first
- Close one eye
- From Tree Pose (or triangle, or warrior 1, etc…)
Down Dog Tunnel Bowling
This is like the block bowling above, but without the blocks and kids are the “pins” instead!
10 kids make a down dog bowling pattern.
One person rolls the ball towards the “pins”. If the ball goes under the person, they stand up and move to the side (they’ve been knocked down).
See how many rolls it takes to get all 10 Dog Pins “bowled over”! 4 in the middle, 2 on each side, 1 on each end. It sometimes works better to have the kids closer together, overlapping a bit.
Also, remind the kids doing down dog, to keep looking back at their own feet (not over at the bowler, as tempting as that is). You want them to keep their form as best as they can and not hurt their neck.
I hope you enjoyed these fun, mildly yoga-like group games with a ball!
We love games in my room and almost always play them on “Fun Friday”
–though I try to remind them that every day is fun 🙂