Teaching the skill of hand-eye coordination may be the most important skill an elementary aged student may learn. The true definition of hand-eye coordination is the ability of the vision system to coordinate the information received through the eyes to control, guide, and direct the hands in the accomplishment of a given task, such as handwriting or catching a ball. Hand-eye coordination uses the eyes to direct attention and the hands to execute a task. This article will explain a fun and challenging way to accomplish this particular skill.
Equipment: The first thing you will need is lots and lots of balloons. You will need enough balloons for every student in your class as well as extras due to accidental pops (more details on how to avoid the “pops” later) and for some that simply go flat after so much usage. The balloons need to be around 6” in diameter. Any smaller and the activity will become more difficult and any larger it will be too easy and they won't focus as much. My advice is to get a rainbow of colors and try to give each kid their favorite color – they love that. The only other equipment you need is music. Try to find music that's energetic. Songs on the radio work great as long as they are kid appropriate. It's funny to hear, “oh I love this song” or “hey, my dad listens to that song all the time”.
Diagram of X's
Preparation: In preparing for this lesson it's obvious that you will need to blow up all the balloons. When I first designed or thought of this lesson I bought the balloons, found my music, prepped the gym for the lesson and began blowing up the balloons – then guess what I realized.....I didn't know how to tie a balloon! How embarrassing! Needless to say with all the balloons I've blown up through the years, I figured it out. Describing it is a different story all together. All I can say is use both hands and use your fingers – sorry : ) Preparing the gym for this lesson. Place a specific color “X” around the gym. These X's should be directly across from another X, but at least 10-15 feet apart, both across and next to.
Step 1: Students should find a “green” X on the floor and sit down. Before handing out the balloons make sure to explain how careful they need to be with balloons. “What happens if we squeeze them?” They always answer, “they will pop”. My next words are, “You are right, and do we want that to happen?” And they always answer “Noooooo”. Of course there are accidents, but I never mention that, I always just leave as, “please be carful with your balloon”.
Step 2: After they all understand the importance of being careful with balloons, start passing them out by walking to each student and asking what color they would like. Once they have their balloons instruct them to stand up and softly throw the balloon up in front of their face and try to catch it. They can perform this activity until you get all the balloons passed out. Please don't give them a balloon and then demand that they don't touch it...that could be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
Step 3: Now that all the students have received their balloons it's time to explain some very basic rules. The first rule is the music. When the music is playing – they get to play with their balloon. When the music stops – they stop! Tell them to let the balloon fall to the ground and don't touch it. If you allow them to hold the balloon, they will never listen to your next set of instructions. The other rule is to make sure they are always standing on their X. If a balloon gets away from them, they should catch it and walk back to their X and start playing again.
Step 4: Now it's time to play! The following is a list of challenges the kids can perform that will increase hand-eye coordination as well as allow them to have fun. Make sure you demonstrate what the action looks like so they can see it. Each action is done for thirty seconds, then pause the music, explain the next challenge, turn the music back on, and then walk around giving the students positive feedback.
- Tap the balloon with one hand – keeping it in front of your face
- Tap the balloon with the other hand – keeping it in front of your face
- Tap the balloon with both hands . Hands are together – looks like a “bump” in volleyball
- Throw the balloon above your head and try to catch it
Throw the balloon in the air and -
1. let the balloon bounce off your head, then try to catch it
2. let the balloon bounce off your knee, then try to catch it
3. let the balloon bounce off one knee, then the other knee, then catch it
4. turn all the way around, then try to catch it
5. turn all the way around, touch the X, then try to catch it
6. lie on the floor and let the balloon land on your stomach
- Count how many times (Math) you can get the balloon to bounce off your head
- Count how many times you can tap the balloon with one hand in 30 seconds
- Count how many times you can tap the balloon with the other hand in 30 seconds
- Count how many times you can tap the balloon with hands together for 30 seconds
There are also more activities and games you can use with the balloons and eventually it could lead up to tapping the balloons with partners, but that's a whole other lesson plan. Hand-eye coordination is a very important skill that can be taught in the elementary and using balloons is an easy, fun way to teach it. Have Fun!
Lesson for an Overhand Throw
tshort23 (author) from Michigan on April 27, 2011:
Thanks Shellyakins! And you're right...these activities can easily be done at home!
shellyakins from Illinois on April 27, 2011:
Great ideas. My kindergartner loves to play with balloons. These are ideas I can do at home with him.