Helping adults prepare children for kindergarten and life.

Gathering Tennis Balls (Fine Motor)

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

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  • 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 (Month 1 Activity 3)
  • Ask the child to stand on the yellow square
  • Give a child a full can of yellow tennis balls
  • Ask the child to empty the can by turning it upside down
  • Let the child gather up the yellow balls, and place in the can to make it full again and return to the yellow square
  • Ask the child to touch the tennis balls and say how they feel
  • Ask the child to empty the can again by turning upside down
  • Ask the child to put one ball in the can, return to the yellow square and ask if the can is full (no) 
  • Empty the can again
  • Ask the 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 the child to empty the can
  • Ask the child to gather up the yellow balls to make the can full (all 3 balls)
  • Return to the yellow square


Prepare a yellow square for the child. Do each activity first and have the child duplicate your actions. For example, say "Stand on the yellow square" and adult stands on yellow square.  Next, ask child to "Stand on the yellow square". Hold a full can of tennis balls.  Let the child hold the full can of tennis balls.  Continue through all of the instructions with you being the "leader" and the child the "follower".  Encourage the child to be the "leader" next and the adult the "follower".  Let the child make up their own set of instructions using the yellow square and tennis balls. 


See how many times they can empty and fill the tennis ball can in one minute. You can set a timer, watch the clock, or count aloud to 60.

Try to pick up a tennis ball with your toes



What shape is a tennis ball?

How is the game of tennis played?

How many balls does it take to make the tennis ball can full?


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

Activity Resources

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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)

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

"The Mitten" VIDEO
by Jan Brett (Activity 22)

"How Kind" VIDEO
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)

"The Hokey Pokey" VIDEO
by The Learning Station (Activity 14)

"Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K448, II. Andante" VIDEO
by Mozart (Activity 20)

"ABC (The Alphabet Song" VIDEO
by Dora the Explorer

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.)