“ Brand: ELC / Type: Kids Sport Equipment „
Although I do not have children of my own I do seem to have a large toy box in my front room for my 2 year old God daughter when she comes to play. On the rare occasion that I get time to hit the shops I always have a little browse of the toy shops to see if there are any bargains suitable for the toy box. A year or so ago I discovered this set of 3 foam balls in the Early Learning Centre (ELC) costing only £2. I have always been a fan of ELC toys due to their quality so I picked up a pack.
The pack contains three foam balls (each is the size of a standard tennis ball); one red, one blue and one yellow. You can squeeze them and they are soft enough that even at full pelt they aren't going to do you any real harm or break a window. Although they are soft and you could obviously pick at the foam, they are robust enough that they aren't going to fall apart on their own. Mine have been well played with for a good year and are still in a great condition...well...apart from the one the dog got at. They aren't advertised for dogs and as expected, if a dog chews one they will eventually demolish it. Sadly Bonnie thought that the blue one was for her and chewed it to death a couple of months ago.
My god daughter for who they were initially brought for has loved them. She first started playing with them when she was 1 and enjoyed squishing them and rolling them around. As she has gotten older she has moved more towards throwing and catching. I think the fact that they are soft and squishy helps with the catching as it is easier to keep hold of. She loves them and always gets them out of the box and throws them enthusiastically across my flat giggling. Knowing that they aren't going to break anything makes me happy and when it comes to tidy up time they can be squashed easily into the rather full toy boy without taking up to much space.
We have also taken them outside a few times. On a nice day they are great as you can throw them a reasonable distance but they aren't going to fly off into the distance never to be seen again. On a windy day they are not as great outside as being light weight they get caught in the wind more easily and accuracy whilst throwing becomes a challenge. But overall we have enjoyed using them both indoors and out for various throwing , catching and rolling games as well as target practice (throwing them into pots etc) all of which are going to help a toddler's development, in particular their hand - eye co-ordination and spatial awareness. It also helps that they are in three different colours as this can become part of the game and is educational.
That would be the end of the review had I not found other uses for these little balls of joy. Being a teacher in a secondary school I am always on the lookout for ways to engage a class of grumpy teenagers. In particular, I like to throw things at them. Not as a form of punishment of course but as a way of engaging them in the lesson! I have used cuddly toys before as part of questioning activities (ie I throw it to someone, they ask or answer a question and then throw it to the next person) but cuddly toys tend to provide too much distraction when someone wants to cuddle it (usually a 15 year old boy I might add) and holds up the activity or someone tries to put it in compromising positions etc. I have also tried beach balls but they can be thrown a bit too violently into someones face. I found that using one of these foam coloured balls was ideal as no one could injure anyone with it and it didn't cause the same level of distraction as a bear would. The students love the opportunity to lob it across the classroom especially at some unsuspecting victim who is too busy looking at her nails or whispering to her friend. As a result I get much better engagement with class questioning!
A further use for these balls is as a stress ball/distraction technique. A friend of mine was having a cosmetic procedure which she would be awake for and was very anxious. I was taking her and as a last minute thought popped one of these foam balls in my bag. Once there I handed it to her as a distraction and she spent the whole time squeezing it and passing it from hand to hand. A few months later as we went to her next treatment, she asked me to bring it again as she said it had really helped!
The balls are a good quality, better than cheaper variations. Of course if your child bit into it or made a concerted effort to pick a chunk out of it they could but they aren't going to break from day to day use. To conclude I would say that they were a brilliant and worthwhile addition to my toybox and have proved to have additional uses that I hadn't initially anticipated. I think they were a perfectly reasonable price, especially as you are getting the Early Learning Centre quality. Five stars from me as I cannot fault them.
So as we have quite an enclosed garden with limited space, and 2 boys who are somewhat competitive, and constantly feel the need to throw or kick a little bit further than each other, £2 for 3 sponge tennis balls has saved us a fortune in replacement windows!!
They come in 3 colours, so no arguments over who is playing with which, whose went furthest or whatever! And being soft, its nice and safe for a 4 and 5 year old boy to launch at each others heads full pelt, and any impact results in nothing more than a cheeky grin and a sarcastic 'ouch' in our garden!!
The boys have also learnt to catch with these, and I have been able to amaze them and their mother with my hidden juggling skills!!
Despite being sponge, they actually repel water, so even when left outside in the rain they don't soak it up at all. They are really well designed, safe, fun and versatile. They are durable and hard wearing as well and certainly seem made to last.
Great purchase, will definitely buy more when these ones get lost!!
Excellent value, £2 gets nothing these days, so to get these for that price is very easy on the wallet.
We planned to have a few friends round for a BBQ recently and we were looking around for some garden type games to keep the kids happy (and possibly the adults later on as the booze flows!!) Having seen how popular tennis has been in the past with the kids at such events (and then having experienced the broken window issue with an over zealous power strike of tennis ball) I wondered if I could possibly get some foam tennis balls. So wandering through town, I called into ELC and came across a set of 3 of these foam tennis balls for £2.00.
What you get for the price is 3 foam tennis balls in red, yellow and blue, that are the same size as a conventional tennis ball. The age range quoted on the packaging is from 36 months upwards, and the foam itself appears to be an ideal balance between hard and soft - hard enough so that you can hit it and get a fairly straight flight path on it, but soft enough to ensure that it won't hurt anyone if it hits them. Best of all, they are soft enough to ensure that they wouldn't break any windows if someone gets carried away with an over zealous power strike!!
Another good point with the foam is that it seems to be quite good quality and fairly durable. I suppose if you give these to a young child to play with, they may have a tendency to try and bite them, possibly taking a chunk out of it. I didn't try myself, and I didn't really trust letting the dog try, but the general feel in trying to pinch the foam is that it is reasonably tough and should withstand a child's bite.
In use playing tennis in the garden, they seem to be absolutely perfect. If you hit them hard, they're not going to travel too far over the fence into the next garden. Likewise, you can relax because they are not going to cause any tears from someone getting hit by one. When the adults did eventually venture around to playing tennis later on the evening, they did create some competitiveness between players - such was the realism that the balls gave to the game.
Going back to the durable bit mentioned earlier, after quite a few sessions of knocking these around the garden and bouncing them off of various surfaces, walls and fences, they still look like almost new. There are no real signs of damage on the foam apart from some minor scuff discoloration from the grass where someone stood on it trying to hit back a shot.
In summary, although these are primarily aimed at the younger end of the market, they also proved to be entertaining for older children and adults alike, and for the price, they were an absolute bargain. Hence, highly recommended.
I am trying to make the most of the good weather we are just having at the minute so every outdoor toy that we own has come out from being stored in the garage. This is one product that we brought when Lauren was a lot younger.
I brought mine from Mothercare, from the ELC section and at the time, they are also available online and in store (although most of my local stores have started to close down). ELC also sell on Amazon now and normally with free delivery so I would recommend checking there first, especially if you aren't spending up to the free delivery threshold. The RRP of the balls is around £2, I think I paid around £1 as it was towards the end of the summer season and the outdoor items were all half price. For my money, I got a set of three, brightly coloured (red, blue and yellow) foam balls which are about the same size as a tennis ball.
The balls are ideal for younger children as they are soft to touch and easy to hold, we brought these when Lauren was about two, although it is worth noting that the manufacturer state these are not suitable for under 3's, I always ensured that she was supervised when playing with them and she had passed that phase of putting everything in her mouth. As Lauren got a little older, I found these were great at starting to encourage her to play catch, because they are smaller than the other balls we had, she found it a little trickier and had to concentrate a bit more. Also, because the balls are made from foam, if she didn't catch and the ball her by accident, they it didn't hurt her.
Now she is a little older, we do still play catch or piggy in the middle with them, but we have just discovered, let's use daddy as a target and practise hitting him with the balls - Although I don't encourage violence, this has proven to make us all giggle!
Over the years, the balls have proven to be a good investment, they are still going strong and apart from a little dis-colouration (mainly due to the fact we left them in the conservatory in direct sunlight for a period of time), and they still look like new. Unlike some foam balls we have had in the past, none of the foam has started to crack and fall off which is great.
Overall, I would recommend these for both older and younger children, they gave given lots of fun and I would give the balls 5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for reading.
Our eldest son is heavily into his racket sports. At 9, he does tennis, badminton and table tennis. However, tennis is by far and away the leader of these three for him. His 19 month old brother is copying everything he does, and he's quick to pick up a racket and start swinging at some tennis balls, and he's also keen to pick tennis balls up and start lobbing them everywhere. He has a good arm already!
So we looked at ways of encouraging this without causing risk of damage or injury, and looked around for some soft play balls. These ones seemed ideal, and we've always rated Early Learning Centre products very highly. This was no exception, and at £2 it was hardly going to break the bank.
The balls come in a pack of three different coloured balls, very similar in size to tennis balls. They're squeezy balls and so are easy to grip for little ones who don't quite get gravity and how a soft hands approach can help catch and hold balls. The three balls are red, yellow and blue, and they're highly entertaining, as most things are at that age!
We can spend plenty of time sitting on the floor with our youngest and passing these back and forth, but ultimately his attention span and comprehension aren't as good as our eldest's, so we appreciate it's going to be little and often when it comes to planned constructive games. The best way to enjoy these is in free play, where we take everything else out of the travel cot we have set up in the front room and just leave him in there with the three balls. This often results in a huge amount of fun as he tries to throw the balls out without us being able to catch them. It's teaching him great hand eye coordination and if he does throw one which flies at a bit of a different angle or hits one of us somewhere other than our hands, it doesn't hurt.
This is certainly not a game we'd play with proper tennis balls, although you can get hold of balls for junior players such as mini reds which are a lot squidgier. They're just not as ideal as these little foam balls are. We've found his confidence with tennis ball sized balls is growing rapidly, and he also has a small plastic racket that he plays floor tennis with alongside these balls. Most tennis coaches will tell you it's good for them to practice hitting the ball along the floor as this encourages the groundstroke motion that they'll need to develop later on, so this is ideal for them.
The only downside really with these is that they are much easier to destroy than real tennis balls. The particular worry with this is that if a child bites a tennis ball nothing much will happen, but it's significantly easier to take off a chunk of one of these balls with a bite. As long as you encourage them to play with them and they don't get bored and start wondering if they taste nice then you shouldn't have any problems. Of course, this is easier said than done and we have a number of bites taken out of these balls.
They're better quality than a lot of foam balls. They're a more durable type of foam, as if the material used is better bound to itself. With other foam balls you can sometimes pinch them to pick a bit off, but with these that's not as easy. I've tried it just to test how sturdy they are, and was reassured that had we opted for cheaper more substandard balls then we'd have been looking at bits of them strewn all over the place and not a clue that they once formed a tennis ball.
The other thing this can do is help with colours. If they're engaged with playing with these tennis balls, then it's ideal to be able to try to get them to isolate the right one when you ask for it. This of course will take some doing as they learn the colours, and it hasn't really worked with our 19 month old, but these are likely to last long enough for him to grasp the concept of colours and this will be another game we can play with him.
So, these balls are highly recommended. Quality design from ELC as always, and much more durable than other foam balls. They provide great fun, are great for developing hand eye coordination, and can also help with learning colours. Just be aware that they can (and probably will) be bitten. Thumbs up.
At a Glance Set of three foam tennis balls to use outdoors or indoors Features and benefits for ELC Foam Tennis Balls Set of three foam tennis balls to use outdoors or indoors.Warning: Not suitable for children under 36 months.