Moonball and its many variations is a great limbering activity with therapeutic value. It fosters the development of communication skills, problem solving skills, and positive competition. It's also a great gauge for how well the group is working together, and for determining whether members are feeling physically safe when others share their personal space.
Many scenarios can be used to frame the regular game of moonball. Two examples follow:
- (to your group): "I have what looks like a beach ball. But really, this object was found out in the Mojave Desert after a fiercely intense and bountiful meteor shower. Now I only say it looks like a beach ball because you might pick it up and hold on to it for too long. Or you might think you can bounce itfrom hand to hand, back and forth. WRONG. If you did, the prolonged exposure to the chemicals it has stored on its exterior surface would affect the use of your hands (or any other limbs that it touches). You'd soon feel a numbing sensation, followed by temporary paralysis. Still, if you're up for a challenge, we can try to play with it as a team and see how long we can keep it from returning to the ground. Shall we try it? I can start by quickly picking it off the ground and bouncing it towards someone. Your job is to keep it off the ground, AND OFF YOUR LIMBS. Are we ready? Here goes!"
Or, more simply:
- "Let's try to keep this ball off the ground. No passing it to yourself and no holding on to the ball is allowed. We start counting hits when the ball is off the ground, and we stop counting when it touches the ground. A group I know got to 440 hits. Shall we try?"
- Moon Ball: Simply keep the beach ball in the air for as many hits as possible. Usually, no one may hit the ball more than once consecutively, and if the ball touches ground, the game is over.
- Diminishing Spot Moon Ball: In this variation, have group members start off on individual carpet squares (or other markers, like paper taped to the floor). Everyone must have one foot on a floor spot. No one may hit more than once in a row. Every time the ball touches the floor, or someone comes totally off their spot, the group has to get rid of one spot. Sharing of the remaining carpet squares becomes a must because no players sit out of the game when they lose theirs. In the end, a group could all be sharing one square among all the members. You might also try adding more moonballs to make it more chaotic. This game can be played in one location with one big group. It can be played sitting down, rolling the balls. Also, you can "lose a limb" (see below) when the ball touches the ground, the group can no longer use their arms, then legs, head, or eyes.
- Lose a Limb Moon Ball: Another variation maintains the same basic rules, but counting hits becomes essential. After the group is warmed up, the group starts the game while counting successful hits. When the ball touhces the ground, the number of successful strokes is recorded. Now, the group has to get to that magic number again. If they succeed, the group keeps counting until the ball drops. Now, the group has a higher number of strokes to beat. When they fail to beat the magic number, the group loses a limb ("OK, everyone loses their right arm!"). As the game progresses, and the group attempts to get to the same magic number minus a limb. If they fail, more limbs are lost.
- Note: If your goal for the activity is to get them circled and ready for the next challenge, do not offer opportunities to redeem limbs. At some point, the group has lost both arms, both legs and have only their head to hit with (which leaves them squatting on the floor/ground, attempting to pick up the ball with a head and trying to pass it to others). At this point, they are circled, on the ground and ready to move to the next event/challenge.
- Note 2: However, if this is not your goal, you can add a way for the group to retrieve a limb ("If you get to the magic number plus one stroke, then you are able to retrieve a lost limb.")
- Limb Moon Ball: This one allows the ball to be hit by a specific limb only (right hand/arm; left leg, etc.).
- Competitive Moon Ball: In this version, the object is to be the last person out. Any hit goes. The person who touches the ball last in any round loses her/his spot and joins someone else.
- Four-Corner Moon Ball: In this one, four corners are designated (with carpet mats, milk crates, etc.). The group has to travel to each corner and someone who is on the designated marker must hit the ball while atop the marker before the group moves on to another location. All 4 markers have to be reached.
- Transition Moon Ball: In this one, the group moves from A (the classroom, the gym, the door leading to the yard) to B (a tree in the yard, the basketball hoop, the group room, etc) while playing moon ball. Game starts with the ball bouncing off A and the group transitions toward B playing basic moon ball. The ball must bounce off B to finish the game.
- Volleyball Moon Ball: The group is split in two teams by a net or a boundary rope tied approximately the height of a volleyball net. Each participant is on a spot. The object is to play regular moon ball while also following volleyball rules.
- Group Count Moon Ball: While playing the regular game, but to enhance inclusion, I sometimes tell the group that the counting of the hits will not start until everyone has hit it at least once.