Montessori learning materials have built the Montessori method a reputation for being extremely efficient in helping children along in their early developmental stages. The ball tracker/track is definitely one that inspires creativity and development in young children. The question to ask now is what exactly is a ball tracker and where can I find one?
The Montessori ball tracker is a wooden learning material that allows children to put balls in through a hole on top of the tracks and watch them run down to a collecting tray. Montessori ball trackers can be purchased online through Montessori stores or on other websites such as Amazon.
Ball trackers will provide young children with an excellent opportunity to practice counting, physical movement, and of course, tracking. To learn more about the ball tracker and what it can do for you and your child, read on!
The Montessori Ball Tracker Explained
Before we explore purchase opportunities, let’s talk a little bit about what the ball tracker really is. As mentioned before, the ball tracker is a track toy that allows children to put balls in through a hole on top and watch them run down to the collecting tray.
As a matter of fact, the collecting tray is probably one of the most beneficial features of this toy. It catches the balls so children can send them back to the tracks repeatedly, but it prevents the balls from rolling around the room and being a distraction to the other students. This way, your child can be kept busy for a while without being disruptive to the activities of others in the room.
Most ball trackers tend to be around thirteen-fifteen inches wide and somewhere around thirteen inches tall or taller. The individual tracks are about five inches across. The balls (and sometimes the tracks) usually come in fun colors such as red, blue, green, and yellow.
Believe it or not, the subtlety of color is a great benefit to your child because it will help them develop an ability to concentrate. Toys that are loud, flashy, and too colorful will actually make it difficult for your child to develop a sense of concentration because their brain will quickly become overwhelmed and overstimulated by all the gadgets and features.
One of the greatest reasons the ball tracker could be significantly instrumental in your child’s development is that it encourages children to cross the midline (bilateral integration skills). Young children who have not quite yet mastered using both hands and both sides of their bodies comfortably will be able to do so with the ball tracker. Plus, it will help them learn about and get a sense of motion. Their eye muscles will become strengthened as they practice tracking the balls down the tracks and into the collection tray.
As your child learns to cross the midline and get more creative with it, you will start to see them getting more and more creative with the track. Watching the ball roll down time and time again will help them to start experimenting with cause and effect. They may catch the ball before it makes it to the bottom or something similar. It will be greatly beneficial to your little one.
Ball Trackers to Buy
While not all ball trackers are created the same, it’s pretty difficult to go wrong with your purchase. As long as a ball tracker has the aforementioned characteristics, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one at all. The best tracker out there depends on exactly what you are looking for. Some are better for younger children, and some are better for older children, but as long as they accomplish what they are designed to do, they are great!
As said earlier, Amazon.com has quite a few options that you can try out. There are not only ball trackers but also a series of other tracking toys and Montessori supplies. Etsy also has a good selection of ball trackers and other Montessori items. You can also shop at just about any Montessori specialty store, whether online or in person.
Here are some examples of great ball trackers you can find online:
- This Ball Track from Montessori Child is colorful and fun and is sure to keep your child engaged. It is recommended for children 3 years of age and older.
- This Car Ramp Tracker is a different spin on a tracking toy that is very popular
- The Elite Montessori Ball Tracker from Amazon is sturdy and has great reviews. Some customers say that it can topple fairly easily, so it is recommended for older children.
Using a Ball Tracker: The Benefits
It’s pretty hard to incorrectly use a ball tracker, but there is definitely a certain way to go about it. Here are a few tips on how to set up a ball tracker in your home, as well as some detailed benefits of having one:
Ball trackers should typically be introduced to children around eighteen months old. Most children usually enjoy playing with a ball tracker until they reach the age of three years or even older. Put the tracker in your child’s play area where they can easily access it. One of the nice things about the tracker is that it can be used by several children at a time in a Montessori classroom.
As mentioned before, this learning material will help your child learn how to track objects which, in turn, will help prepare them for reading and developing important ocular skills. Children will learn to visually follow the ball as it rolls down the track. Most trackers have very slow-slanting tracks that will make it fairly easy for young ones to observe the balls as they gradually descend to the collecting tray/rack.
Using a ball track will also help your child to develop coordination. Not only will they have to follow the ball with their eyes, but they will also have to coordinate their movements to get the ball from the collection tray back to the top of the tracker. Additionally, with this encouraged movement and coordination comes a great sense of core stability.
Children will have to move up and down and squat and stand up straight to get the balls to the top over and over again. Repeated practice of this will help them to find balance and stability and exercise their muscles. This is a perfect way to teach a wobbly toddler how to become confident and steady.