This activity is from our “Ball Games” unit and is proof that learning and fun doesn’t need to be expensive. One of the most simple ways to make a ball is to scrunch up recycled paper. This has benefits for both children’s fine motor skills and gross motor skills, and it’s a free way to entertain children!

[Note: as we’re writing this in November, keep this top of mind during holiday seasons when there is lots of trash to play with and very energetic children!]

Set up Time: 5 minutes


Gather together some scrap paper! This can be misprinted paper, old newspaper, or notebook paper.

Invite children to scrunch up the paper into balls. You can make a simple target on a wall with painters tape. We encourage you to extend this into a shape recognition game by making shapes out of the tape.

Alternatively, you can use a hula hoop or ring (we had a wooden ring) to invite children to try to move the hula hoop where you throw the paper balls.



  • Recycled paper
  • Craft tape

Learning Through Play

Physical: Gross Motor – As mentioned in the prompt, scrunching paper is great for fine motor skills, while throwing balls at a target is great for gross motor skills. Observe how young toddlers may throw straight down to the floor instead of straight out from their body. This is perfectly normal! As children grow and develop strength and coordination, they will eventually learn how to step and throw while winding their arm back and releasing it forward (like a baseball player!).

Social-Emotional: Self-Regulation – You might find that children sometimes throw things in an inappropriate manner, such as food, or interesting things they find outside. That can catch caregivers by surprise and sometimes can be frustrating. However, children are actually demonstrating curiosity and a desire to move and explore this important gross motor skill that is important for so much of their balance and coordination. If we give children lots of opportunities to throw in a positive context, we can give them an outlet for this important skill.

School Readiness: Shapes – As mentioned in the prompt, this is a great way to “hide” learning about shapes! Simply talk about the shapes of your targets (circle, triangle, rectangle, square) to incorporate the language of shapes into your play! No quizzing is necessary, you can simply use the name of the shapes in a natural way with children, or invite them to help you make the shapes on the wall with tape. Or you can talk about the circular shape of your hula hoops or rings.

See this activity in the Rayz Kidz app along with the other fun games. Rayz Kidz is your trusted source for play-based activities featuring over 100 themes and 500+ hands-on activities and clear descriptions of the beautiful learning that is happening through play.