Catch-a-balls working with Nurseries


Catch-a-Balls classes in Rainbows Nursery Richmond

Nursery case study

Catch-a-balls and the Rainbows Nursery in Richmond have been working together for 4 years. We run a weekly 30 to 45 minute classes in 3 of their venues.

The nursery environment is great for a sports activity as it gets all the children moving.

There are about 15- 20 children in each session, often divided by age, but not always as it can be beneficial for the younger children to see the older ones doing an activity (‘look and learn’) or even helping them stand in lines and taking turns.


Within a Catch-a-balls session the aim is to help children understand the benefits of the activities. So there is always a warm up to get their muscles working which is also a good opportunity to get everyone involved, up and moving. Usually we will play a simple game such as our bean game, where we see what kind of beans we can be; jumping beans, French beans, baked beans and so on. Or we might do some individual hand eye co-ordination practice handling/balancing with scarves or bean bags.


During a session the focus will be on a particular skill. That can be a type of throw; overhead, under arm or over arm throw. We have devised techniques that encourage the children to perform the correct movement. For instance if we are practicing an under arm throw, we use our tick tock arms, pointing with our other hand to show the ball where we want it to go, and throw with our hands going past our knees.

We will practice our skill then have a challenge. This will vary depending on the age group. The younger children may just have to throw a ball or bean bag through a hoop, maybe varying the height or distance of the throw. For children over 3, we will play a game that will use the particular throw being practiced.

Finally we will have a cool down. The aim is to focus the children again and do something calming before going back to the nursery environment. This can be something as simple as asking them to work with a partner and put their hands together, then their elbows or toes. Or it can be an individual challenge which makes them explore how their body moves.

Aims & Benefits

Increasingly the value of an active lifestyle is becoming better understood. In order to enjoy sports and fitness it is very important to give children the tools with which to do it confidently. Catch-a-balls is run by Heather Horler, who was previously a netball coach and has 2 children. She strongly believes that getting kids active and enjoying sport at a young age is key to their long-term fitness and health.

Additionally, children do not all learn the same way – for many getting up and moving suits their learning method better. This means that the development of counting skills, for example, can be greatly enhanced by their use in fun games!

Rainbow benefit in a number of ways. On the day, they have children who have enjoyed a session of constructive physical activity which reduces their excess energy and relaxes them. Plus the nursery staff (who get involved in the lessons as after all they know the kids) have picked up ideas during the class that they can then use on other days to help entertain the children while encouraging development. The big benefit is that these classes fulfils the nursery’s commitment to deliver Early Years Foundation Stage physical development activities.

More information

  • The classes suit 2 year olds up to school age,
  • The classes can be held inside or outdoors, and don’t require huge amounts of space.
  • Our lessons plans introduce fun ball game-based activities that develop skills such as rolling, throwing, catching and using bats.
  • We group our classes into terms, with new games and props each new term to ensure the children are kept interested and experience a wide range of sports (for example, cricket, boules).
  • These are non-sports specific sessions allowing children to develop their skills which will serve them well with whichever sport they later choose.