at home ideas

at home ROLLING and SLIDING adventures

Experimenting with objects that roll and slide and how they behave on different surfaces or with different objects creates a laboratory in which infants and toddlers can hypothesize, compare, contrast, and predict outcomes. This type of play can also build social as well as large and small motor skills.

  1. Household Hill: Create a hill out of pillows or furniture cushions. Sit with your child at the bottom of the “hill.” Roll a light weight ball down to your child. If your child is engaged, encourage the game. Let your child take the ball and reach up and roll it down to you as well.
  2. “roll-ability” survey: Gather a variety of items that can be rolled: balls, empty water bottles, toy vehicles, empty toilet paper rolls. Use a piece of cardboard, a cutting board, or other flat wide surface as a ramp. Hand each rolling item to your baby to roll down the ramp. You may have to model how it’s done first. Comment on the different items as they travel down and off the ramp. Repeat the ones that appear to intrigue your child the most. Talk about the object’s motion and speed.
  3. Baby bowling: Place light weight objects such as toilet tissue tubes at the bottom of the ramp. Model “bowling” for your child. Describe the action. You might also simply position your hill or ramp so that the sliding object hits a wall or something that makes noise.
  4. Slide Up: At the park, in a play room, or with an improvised “slide,” roll or slide items such as balls or blocks up the surface. Talk about its movement. Point out how quickly it moves back down the surface. If a “slider” gets “stuck” help your child to get it moving again. This kind of “backwards” way of doing things helps babies to look at familiar things in different ways and sets the stage for reversing an action or working backwards, an important problem-solving skill.
  5. Big Rollers: Use large beach balls (or exercise balls if you have them) to present bigger physical challenges as well as full-body ways of experiencing the concept of round. Make sure that the surrounding surface is soft—carpeting, mats, etc. Hold the baby around her waist and place her, tummy down, on the ball. Rock and roll her gently. Older babies and toddlers may want to master this move by themselves. Stay close, hold onto them gently, and “spot” their attempts. Conquering “big” things is very compelling at this age.
  6. Tunnels: Create “tunnels” through which your child can roll or slide a ball or block. A clear mailing tube will allow the baby to see the action; a cardboard tube or narrow box with the ends cut off may create some surprise when the object falls out the other side. Try different lengths of “tunnel” with older children. Babies are intrigued by the rolling and sliding action. The narrow space of the tunnel helps to focus the action on how the object moves. Varying the angle of the tunnel can also lead to new observations.
  7. Road Block: Place a lid or your hand at the end of a “tunnel.” Watch your child’s reaction when the object does not fall out of the end. Hand him another object and let the tunnel fill up with the obects. When full, remove the lid or your hand and let the objects spill out. Comment on what’s happening throughout the process.