Ten pin bowling, or “Skittles”, is such a lovely game to play with children from 2 years and up. The idea is to set up a row of objects and the child throws his ball to try to knock as many of them over as possible. You can use 2 litre coke bottles, 500ml drink bottles, milk bottles, toilet roll inners or tin cans. The younger the child, the bigger the skittles and the wider the row of skittles needs to be. As the child gets better at aiming, the skittles used can be smaller.
Set up the skittles in a long line at first. This gives the child a better chance at hitting over at least some of the skittles. It is important that your child experiences some success, as if he always misses the skittles with his ball, he won’t want to play anymore.
Let him count how many skittles he has knocked over, then let him set them up again in a line, and do it again.
As the child gets better at knocking down the skittles in a row, you can place them in a triangle, with one skittle in the front, two skittles behind that, three skittles behind that, etc. Placing the skittles like this also helps the child with counting, as there is 1 in the 1st row, 2 in the 2nd row, 3 in the 3rd row, etc.
This game develops the following skills that your child will need for school:
The eyes need to send the information that they can see to the brain, and the brain has to send the details to the hand muscles to tell them what they must do. These messages from the eye to the brain to the muscles have to happen very quickly, and this skill improves with practice. Why is this important for school? Think of when your child is writing in his exercise book. His eyes have to tell his brain where the first line is, and his brain has to tell the muscles in his hand where to put his pencil so that he can write on the first line. When his eyes see that his hand is coming to the end of the page, his eyes must tell his brain to tell his hand to stop, to pick up the pencil and to move the pencil back to the beginning of the next line. This is just one area where eye-hand coordination is used at school.
When he is throwing the ball at the skittles, his eyes are telling his brain where the skittles are, and his brain tells his hand which direction to throw the ball.
COUNTING AND ONE-TO-ONE CORRESPONDENCE:
By counting how many skittles have been knocked down and how many are still standing, the child is learning to say the numbers in the correct order AND he is learning to count actual objects. Many young children have memorized the number words in the proper order (counting), but sometimes do not yet understand that they must say one number with each object (one-to-one correspondence). For example, they might say “1,2,3,4,5″ but miss out an object. Or, they count one object twice. A child has to learn that for every item, there is a number that goes with it. It is important, therefore, that when a child is counting objects, he can either touch or point with a finger at each object as he says each number.
Without understanding one-to-one correspondence, a child will be unable to do Maths at school.
For those children who are in Grade R and older, you can write numerals on the toilet rolls or bottles and they can practice putting them up in the correct order. It is important that you draw the same number of dots on the back of the skittle as the numeral on the front, so that if the child can’t remember what the numeral is, she can count the dots on the back to remind herself. It is also a good idea to put a line around the bottom of the skittle, so that the child knows which way up the skittle must stand. This will prevent her from putting the numerals upside down and thinking that is how they must be written.