The last game we play with preschoolers each lesson is called Frozen. This game is like desert after a meal for kids. You can’t show the kid ice cream before they have eaten their dinner or the ice cream is all they will want.
Here is how it works:
- First, they have to collect all of the tennis balls we have used and place them in the basket
- Next, I play “Let it go” (Song from the movie Frozen: Idina Menzel) and they all start running away from “the Snow Monster”.
- It’s basically freeze-tag with snowballs.
While listening to the Let it Go, they have to avoid the snowballs flying at them. They can’t hide so they have to be fast. If they are struck with a snowball they have to freeze in place and wait for a friend to tag them to get un-frozen.
Instructors get to pause the game whenever they need to remind kids that they are not allowed to throw the snowballs because as soon as they touch a snowball, they are frozen! They will try to kick the snowballs and they will definitely not freeze if they don’t want to admit they were hit with a ball. It takes some time and some reminding, but they eventually realize that getting frozen is not at all a bad thing and they don’t have to lie about getting hit with a snowball. They get to ask their friends for help!
During the bridge of the song (2:25 into the Disney version) the tennis balls are all out of the basket and the kids must get all the snowballs back into the basket before the end of the song. This gives them about 60-70 seconds to clean up after themselves and I always bribe them with stickers if they are successful.
I used to give them stickers at the end of each lesson for “being good” but I recently decided to offer them a more objective way to earn their stickers. I explain to them that being good is subjectively judged and having an objective task to complete allows them the ability to confirm their sticker acquisition without the instructor choosing arbitrarily whether or not they kids have behaved properly enough. Tennis aside, I really love watching preschoolers understand the difference between the two concepts of “objective” and “subjective!”
As always, we do everything we can not to choose arbitrary games or expectations for the children we encounter at Ankle Biters ExtraCurriculars. Our lesson plans are not only full of fun games that the children enjoy; the games are designed to scale into their future. Tornado! is the 8 & under game that prepares them for what they will encounter as their tennis careers progress.
Good luck, and remind your child of Rule #1 for Ankle Biters Tennis:
- Never try to hit the ball with your face!