Simple fun: balls, blocks and tubes

Sunday afternoon, I attempted to engage my 2-year-old son in some good ol’ fashioned block building. He was having none of it. Instead, he began placing blocks upright around the room. Hey, okay, whatever floats your boat. You have fun kid. I’m going to check my e-mail.

The next thing I know, he’s trying to kick the blocks down using a Nerf baseball.

Photo of my son kicking a soft baseball toward a row of a dozen or more rectangular wooden blocks that are standing on end. His sister is standing next to him watching.

My six-year-old daughter loved the idea of playing this new game with her brother.

You might call it Foot Bowling. Or maybe Soccer Sticks. We called it Wilson Ball.

My daughter refined the game by placing the blocks in a single row. It was aesthetically pleasing, but made it much harder to hit more than one or two blocks, usually obtained via a ricochet off the back of our couch or bookshelf.

When the excitement eventually wore off, I invented a new game called Papa Ball. Actually, my son balked at the name, so we called it Wilson Ball to appease 2-year-old rage.

I set up a string of block towers at one end of the room and my kids sat on a futon at the other end. Then, they rolled a ball through a long cardboard tube. The ball slid across the floor and laid waste to the block towers.

Photo of my daughter sitting on a couch holding a long cardboard tube extending from her hand to the floor. A ball is rolling out of the tube toward a tower of wooden blocks.

The tube came from a bolt of fabric, perhaps 5 feet long. The plastic balls came from a toddler toy, probably from a garage sale and probably broken. I have the balls, but not the toy.

Sister often helped her brother aim the tube.

Anyhow, hey, simple fun!

Pretty soon, my daughter fell into the trap of creating ornate tower structures using three different types of blocks…

Photo of my daughter setting up a rectangular room composed of blocks of two different colors and shapes.

Photo of my son rolling a ball through a tube at the newly constructed tower. His sister is helping to aim the tube.

Photo of the block tower falling as a ball hits it.

I say trap because then my daughter’s towers started getting taller, and she got flustered when her towers fell under the stress of her own building process.

The more time spent building, the less time spent knocking things down. My son grew impatient, his skin turned green, and the most astonishing growth spurt you’ve ever seen took place.

Hulk smashed her tower with his fists of rage honest fun.

A couple cooling time outs later, it was sister’s turn to invent a game. She created Sister Ball, or as we called it, Wilson Ball.

Photo of my son holding the cardboard tube on the floor, preparing to push it at three balls in order to push the balls at a block tower.

She placed the tube on the floor and pushed balls toward the block tower. Firing three balls at the same time, destruction was guaranteed. The kids were able to shoot the balls at a much higher speed, so there was an added degree of excitement.

Photo of three balls hitting a block tower after my son pushed the balls with a cardboard tube.

In the end though, Papa/Wilson Ball had the greatest longevity. We returned to it with moderate success for a while longer. There’s just something cool about sliding a ball down a long tube toward destruction.

A photo of my son holding the cardboard tube on a futon, cradling the tube between his feet.

Two photos side-by-side showing a tall block tower in three colors falling as a ball hits it.


5 Responses to “Simple fun: balls, blocks and tubes”

  1. adrienne says:

    We have a couple of those big cardboard tubes (5′ and 7′) from a local tent factory. They are so versatile.

    Building and knocking things down is a favorite pastime around here too. Every time we do it, I wonder why we bother owning any toys beyond blocks and balls.

    September 27th, 2010 at 11:53 am

  2. observer says:

    that is a cool game, and also a good lesson in physics and gravity. i will have to remember this game. and your kids look like they had tons of fun.

    September 27th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

  3. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    The kind of tube that works best for sliding balls down are the tubes that come in the middle of engineering rolls of paper.

    We go through these kinds of rolls about 2/week and early on I was taking the rolls home. My son LOVED them starting about 18 months. He still does when I get them out. The roolls are wide enough they work with many common toys (Playskool balls, the balls on the basketball “bopper” thing, Castle Marbleworks balls.) The tube is sturdy enough to handle a toddler lying on it. The fun is pure scream!

    September 28th, 2010 at 10:42 am

  4. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Oh the game we came up with that we had the most fun with (Having a carpetted area) was putting the tube against the couch and seeing where the ball came out, then using various available items to try to “catch” the ball so it would not go all the way around the room. A perfect score happened when the ball “bounced” off one obstacle and was corraled in a second in a different area.

    September 28th, 2010 at 10:44 am

  5. observer says:

    the best tubes for just about everything are round cement molds. they can be found at any home improvement store, and they make for some great fun.

    September 30th, 2010 at 6:02 pm

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