The Pendulum Ball Exercise
This is an excellent exercise for visual tracking and convergence work. A pendulum ball is simply a ball tied on a string and hanging down from the ceiling or light fixture. The ball can travel side to side like a pendulum does, it can travel in a circle (clockwise or counter clockwise) and it can move in and out towards the participant's face. When traveling in and out, it is a convergence exercise and can be used before or after the Brock String Exercise. Visual tracking is important for reading and writing and convergence is important for copying information from a board.
Pendulum balls can be purchased or made. One way to make them is to obtain a solid ball, drill a hole through it with a drill and thread a string through it a little less than the diameter of the hole and tie a couple of knots at the end. We like putting numbers and letters on the ball so the participants can have something to focus on as the ball travels. Stickers or stamps of animals or other designs can be used for younger children.
When doing this exercise, it is important for the participant to keep their head still and only move their eyes to track the pendulum ball.
Step by Step Instructions: The Pendulum Ball Exercise.
1. Obtain or make a Pendulum ball. Attach it to something high so that the ball rests at eye level. There should be plenty of room for the ball to swing in any direction without hitting anything, including the participant.
2. The simplest exercise is to push the ball so that it swings from side to side like a pendulum. Have the participant watch the ball, trying to see if she/he can read some of the letters or numbers on the ball. Make sure they follow the ball with their eyes and not with their head. Their head should be still. At first some participants may need to have their head held still until they get used to not moving their head and only move their eyes. For beginners and those with limited tracking skills, quit the exercise after about 5 minutes.
3. When step two is mastered (i.e., the participant can watch a pendulum ball and track for about 4 minutes without losing focus or sight of the ball) or close to mastery, then move the pendulum ball in a counter clock wise direction so that it is moving in a circle going close to the participant's nose (at 6:00) and then away from their nose (at 12:00 on an horizontal imaginary clock). The participant is to do this for two minutes.
4. After the two minutes, the participant is to track the pendulum ball going in a clock wise direction.
5. After the two minutes of tracking the pendulum ball in a clock wise direction, the participant is to track the ball being swung in a direction towards their nose. This is to be done not in a circle but swinging back and forth. The participant is to track the ball for 60 seconds to two minutes.
6. After five to six minutes, the session is over.
7. Mastery of the complete exercise is when the participant can track without error or losing track of the pendulum ball two minutes in one direction and then two minutes of circular movement in the other direction followed by one to two minutes of the ball being swung towards and away from the face.
Exercise:The Pendulum Ball Exercise.
Time: about 5 to 6 minutes.
Recommended Frequency: once a day, 5 or 6 days a week until step 7 has been mastered.
Materials Needed: a ball on a string.
Pretest Assessment: the participant has trouble tracking objects through space. Some will move their head when they read.
Mastery: being able to track the pendulum ball without losing it or jumping ahead of the ball for 5 to six minutes as it is moved in a circular counter clockwise position for 2 minutes, the opposite direction for two minutes and then being swung in and out from the participants face for one to two minutes.
Additional comments: To help infants develop good visual skills, the pendulum ball can be placed 1/2 inch above the floor. The ball is lightly pushed and hopefully will capture the infant's attention. This exercise can also be combined with a balance board and the ball hanging at eye position.
Another modification is to use a balance board, have the ball at waste level and use a 1 by 2 by 3 feet board to hit the ball. The board is to be held by both hands and the participant strikes the ball gently at the center of the board. Targets can be set up so that the ball is hit above three specific targets. This will increase visual motor skills. It is also much fun to do.
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