Helping adults prepare children for kindergarten and life.

Gathering Tennis Balls (Fine Motor)

Developing finger dexterity, using words, empty and full, and following directions

Instructions Printer-Friendly
Watch Video

  • Make a yellow square (square has 4 straight sides all same length and 4 corners) from a sheet of yellow construction paper
  • Help the child measure and cut out the square (Activity 3 Month 1)
  • Ask the child to stand on the yellow square
  • Give a child a full can of yellow tennis balls
  • Ask him to empty the can by turning it upside down
  • Let child gather up the yellow balls, and place in the can to make it full again and return to the yellow square
  • Ask him to touch the tennis balls and say how they feel
  • Ask him to empty the can again by turning upside down
  • Ask him to put one ball in the can, return to yellow square and ask if the can is full (no) 
  • Empty the can again
  • Ask child to gather the balls but leave one ball out of the can
  • Return to yellow square. Ask if the can is full (no)
  • Ask him to empty the can
  • Ask child to gather up the yellow balls to make the can full (all 3 balls)
  • Return to yellow square


Do each activity first and have child duplicate. For example, say "Stand on the yellow square" and adult stands on yellow square.  Next, tell child to "Stand on the yellow square".


  • can of yellow tennis balls (use lemons, golf balls, pingpong balls, roll up socks as balls, or other small balls and a bowl instead of tennis can)
  • yellow paper square

Share This Activity

  • icon-social-facebook
  • icon-social-twitter
  • icon-social-pinterest
  • email

Curriculum Plan Resources

Skills Focus

  • Shape - Square
  • Color - Yellow
  • Number - One, 1
  • Alphabet Letter - A, E
  • Senses - Touch
  • Character Trait - Caring
  • Target Words - In, Out, Empty, Full

Monthly Proverb

Swedish - The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

Did You Know?

Children who are not ready for kindergarten often have trouble succeeding in school. Those who do poorly in school are more likely to need to repeat classes, need special education, drop out of school, become teen parents, and get into trouble with the law. As adults, drop-outs have trouble making a living wage, and are at risk of poverty and homelessness

From Plan for the Washington Early Learning System – Draft 12/1/09 (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2005; Isaacs, 2008).

Books to Read

"The Mitten"
by Jan Brett (Activity 22)

"Little Blue and Little Yellow"
by Leo Lionni (Activity 8)

"How Kind"
by Mary Murphy (Activity 12)

Music Playlist

"The Hokey Pokey"
by Music for Little People Choir from album Toddlers Sing Playtime (Children) (Activity 14)

"Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K448 II."
Andante by Alicia de Larrocha from album Mozart: Concerto & Sonata for 2 pianos (Classical) (Activity 20)

"ABC (The Alphabet Song)"
from album Dora the Explorer (Children) (Activity 1)

Monthly Materials List

Click Here to view the list!

Fingerplay / Poems / Songs

Select one poem for child to memorize this month and recite it at bedtime plus one song/fingerplay to learn. Here are two examples:

My NAME Song

(Activity 25 Month 1 - Sung to tune of BINGO)

There was a family had a child

and Carly (insert child's name) was her name.

C - A - R - L - Y C - A - R - L - Y C - A - R - L - Y (spell child's name)

And Carly (insert child's name) was her name

Kind To Others

(Activity 13 Month 1 - Fingerplay)

5 little children

Standing in a row ( hold up 5 fingers)

They are kind to others

Everywhere they go. (walk hand in front of body)

I am one of the children (point to self)

Standing in a row (hold up 5 fingers)

I'll be kind to others (point to self)

Wherever I go. (walk hand in front of body)

(This fingerplay works as a reminder to a child to be kind in any situation- without saying a word. Just walk hand in front of body to silently signal a child to remember to be kind or use actual sign language for the word kind.)