Sunday, July 10, 2011

Exercise balls

my room during the summer before the balls
So, the talk of incorporating exercise balls into my classroom as chairs for the last 15 months has now become a reality.  The time to talk about it isn't over yet, by any means.  I am sure there will be many comments made when teachers and students come into my room and realize they are sitting on balls instead of chairs.  It will be an interesting change considering the chairs I have now are actually very nice chairs as far as school materials.  The chairs I currently have are padded and the backrest reclines a little, so students love them compared to the metal and hard plastic goldenrod colored chairs in all of the other rooms.  Overall, my room is pretty comfortable with carpeting, oak laminate computer tables that seat two instead of individual desks, and subtle color on the walls.  In some ways I feel like I am rocking the boat by adding the balls as chairs.  Students in the past have done a fair job at taking care of the chairs because they realize their other option is the plastic goldenrod chair.

So, this year with the exercise balls, could be interesting in how the balls will change the dynamics of the room.  The balls I am using are two sizes to help cater to the different heights of students.  Half of the balls are 65cm and the other half are 75cm.  Depending upon the student's height depends upon what size ball they will be most comfortable sitting on.  The 65cm size is recommended for individuals 5'6"-6'0" and the 75cm for 6'2"-6'8".  Now, in looking at those heights I must say we do not have giant people in Nebraska.  Not many of my students fit the 6'2"-6'8" range, probably only one or two a year, but in conducting research many sources ( CORRECT FITBALL SIZE)  recommend a larger ball rather than smaller.  And in trying to determine exactly what size balls to order in order to best fit the classroom, I thought going with the larger size would be a better idea.  I am also assuming that I will need to pump up the falls somewhat frequently in order to maintain the correct size.  So I thought by buying larger sizes I should give myself some added room for error, and a larger ball is probably much more comfortable than a ball that is too small.  No one enjoys sitting in a chair for long when your knees are above your hips, so I wanted to make sure that didn't happen in my room with the balls.  My goal is to have students use more muscles when sitting in my classroom, not to make them uncomfortable.

So, last week 8 boxes of TKO exercise balls arrived in my classroom thanks to  Each ball came with it's own little hand pump to blow it up, so I enlisted some recruits to help me blow up the balls.  With the promise of a trip to a local pool in exchange, I took my two children and a couple of their friends to school to begin the process.  The instructions mention blowing up the ball 80% initially and then waiting 24 hours to blow it up completely.  This recommendation allows the material to stretch properly in order to reach the correct size and to maintain the correct size over time.  So, we cracked open all the boxes, took out 28 balls, and began pumping.  I must admit it was tiring work and the kids did great at blowing up the balls even while their biceps were whining and their triceps were screaming.  So, we now have 28 balls sitting on 28 chairs blown up 80%.  Next week will be the trip out to school to blow them up the rest of the way followed by an afternoon at the pool.
Hunter blowing up a 75cm ball
Ian's enthusiasm is obvious!
The girls still smiling!

80% of the way there!