Straw Soccer
Primary Market
Health, Occupational Therapy
Character Focus
Communication, Teamwork, Strategic Thinking
Items Needed
1 Toobeez set, straws (1 per student), ping pong ball
The Activity Time
30 - 60 minutes

Objectives

  • Weight bearing through upper extremities to increase strength
  • Collaborate with speech therapy to strengthen oral-motor skills and breath support
  • Build planning, strategy and problem-solving skills
  • (For small groups): Improve communication and teamwork to strengthen social skills
The Challenge

Holding the straw in your lips, blow the ping pong ball into the other player’s goal to score as many points as possible!

Preparation

Time: 5 – 10 minutes

Materials

  • 1 Toobeez set
  • straws (1 per student)
  • ping pong ball

Setup

1. Using two 36” tubes, four 16” tubes, six 11” tubes and 12 spheres, create a rectangular “playing field” with two goals at each end. See the picture below.

2. Place the playing field either on the floor or on a table.

Activity Plan

Time: 30 – 60 minutes

Instruction: Individual, pairs or small groups

Space: Medium – Lots (tabletop, Therapy Gym, gymnasium etc.)

Helpful Hints

  • Be sure to review these tips prior to beginning the activity, and if necessary, share reminders with the group during the activity.
  • Set and review basic guidelines of the game prior to beginning. Incorporate the student’s ideas for rules into these guidelines.
  • For safety purposes, be sure to allow frequent rest breaks to prevent dizziness and light-headedness. Be sure to stop the game if a player is feeling dizzy or light-headed.
  • Be sure to involve parents, siblings, teachers, para-educators or other support staff in this activity! It may provide them with fun activities to do with children.

Activity Instructions

Straw Soccer setup

Straw Soccer setup

1. Sit down in a circle with the players of the game (if this is an individual therapy session, sit across from the child on the floor). Once the rules of the game are reviewed, ask students to repeat them to ensure understanding.

Rules of Straw

1. The purpose of this game is to blow the ping pong ball into the other player’s goal. Wait until you are given the sign to go to begin playing.

2. If you need to sit down or take a break, say so at any time and play will resume when all the players are ready.

3. When playing, all hands, arms and other body parts are to stay off the playing field.

4. There is no goalie, and to block a goal, you must blow the ping pong ball away from your goal cage.

5. You must always stay on your side of the playing field. Do not cross over the center field line.

6. Be respectful. Only say encouraging words and cheer each other on.

2. To wake up all muscles of the body, complete the “Pre-Activity Warm-Up Routine” located on page 16 at the beginning of this workbook.

3. Read the following Activity Challenge Box.

Challenge: Holding the straw in your lips, blow the ping pong ball into the other player’s goal to score as many points as possible!

4. Each player should take their position on opposite ends of the playing field.

5. Decide on the end score (for example, the first person to five wins).

straw-soccer26.  If working in a small group, instruct the players to huddle up to plan their offensive and defensive strategies.

7. Begin with the ping pong ball in the center of the playing field. Countdown “3-2-1, play!” And the players should begin blowing the ping pong ball into the other team’s goal.

8. Provide reminders to the players if they are not following the guidelines.

9. Once a goal is scored, return the ball to the center of the playing field and begin again until the end score is reached.

10. When the activity is complete, move on to the Discussion and Processing questions.

Here are available Training Options!

Therapist Assessment

  • Observation of the child’s behavior and participation in the activity:
    • Was the child able to follow the auditory instructions of the game?
  • Observation of the child’s participation in the pre-game warm-up: Assessment of the child’s state of arousal/alertness prior to completing the warm up routine:
    • Was the warm-up routine alerting? Did he/she appear to be better able to attend to the auditory instructions?

Therapist Tip: Try completing this activity (at the same time of day, in the same location, and track the data) a few times without the pre-game warm up and a few times with the pre-game warm up. Document if there is a difference in performance with the pre-game warm-up. A child may or may not need this routine to prepare for learning prior to completing seated academic work.

  • Observation of the social interaction of the child/children:
    • Was he/she appropriately communicating wants/needs, thoughts, or ideas to the teammates, the opposing players, and to the staff?
  • Therapist modification of the task to provide the “just right” challenge:
    • What modifications were needed?

Activity Discussion and Processing

Use the questions below as a guide for your discussion. Select the questions you feel will best benefit your child. It is not mandatory to cover every question. Make sure to let everyone (other staff observing, parents that are observing the session) share their ideas, and remind participants that everyone’s opinions and feelings are important!
Work through the following questions:

A. For the child:

    • What was easy about it?
    • What was frustrating or difficult about this activity?
    • How did you feel after you successfully made a goal?
    • How does your body feel after moving around and playing this game?

Do you feel more awake?

B. For teachers/para-educators/other therapists:

    • Was this activity difficult or easy for you?
    • Did you need to change your approach to the task at all?
    • What does the phrase “just right challenge” mean to you?
    • Why is it important to always be aware of a child’s frustration level during activities?
    • How could we work together to utilize this activity and movement activities in general across all areas of the child’s day?

Activity Variations

1. Decrease the difficulty.

Use the straws as hockey sticks. This also incorporates the use of fine-motor skills in order to manipulate the straw in the hand.

2. Increase the difficulty.

If working in a small group (3 to 4 players – may include the therapist), blindfold one player on each team.  The other “sighted” teammate must communicate where the ball is and where his teammate should position his/her body in the playing field in order to score and/or block the ball.

3. For children who use wheelchairs.

Set up the playing field on a table so the wheelchair can fit under the table. Follow the same activity instructions as stated above. Also, the child should transfer (with or without assistance – depending on ability) to the floor and lie prone with his/her upper body propped up on forearms so weight is bearing on the upper extremities in that manner. If a group is a combination of children who both use and do not use wheelchairs, instruct all children to lie prone on the floor and play the game in that position.

4. Consult with the speech therapist.

Consult with the speech therapist on the professional team to change the size of the straw, eliminate the use of the straw during the game, or to use another oral-motor tool to challenge the children based on their needs.

Candice Donnelly-Knox is a licensed and registered occupational therapist with over three years of experience. She has experience working with students (ages 3 to 21) with a variety of needs including Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome etc. Candice is dedicated to providing each student with an individualized plan to address their unique educational needs; needs that may include activities of daily living, coping skills, reading and handwriting, and functional math skills such as money management, pre-vocational and vocational skills.
All Activities of Candice Donnelly-Knox

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