Game – United States of America

Silent Ball

Silent ball is usually played in a classroom, I suppose. So anyone who wants to play sits up on the top of their desks and one person starts off with the ball and it can just be like…a tennis ball, or a wiffle ball, or whatever. And you also have a sound monitor person who basically judges whether or not someone has made a sound that uh that should I guess constitute them as “out” of the game. And it’s usually okay to laugh, um, I think. But if you talk, or do anything other than laughing or bodily functions like coughing or sneezing. So basically if you talk, you’re “out.” So, then, the person who starts out with the ball throws it to whoever they want in the classroom and you just keep throwing it around to different people and if the ball touches your desk or the floor, or if you just don’t catch it while it’s coming at you, then you have to sit down on your chair—not on your desk—because then that means that you’re “out.” And the goal is to be the last person sitting on your desk, or, sitting on a desk. And, um, I guess the sound monitor person also judges um, like, if the ball was thrown between two people that sound monitor person decides who is out. So it’s kind of the ultimate judge.

*Teachers can play, but generally don’t

Heidi first learned this game sometime during the later half of elementary school. It is usually played in the classroom during times when the teacher doesn’t have a lesson planned, or when there is a substitute teacher. Students probably start playing it during the later half of elementary school because their finer motor skills have developed a bit more—they’re able to throw the ball with some accuracy, and catch it as well.

Since the goal is to get people out, a person in possession of the ball could potentially “just chuck the ball at people.” Heidi says that, “if they miss it, too bad for them.” Methods for getting people “out” include, but are not limited to: throwing the ball very hard so that some people might not want to catch it; throwing the ball just out of reach of the person so that he or she cannot catch it; and throwing the ball towards a person without giving him or her very much notice. While these are all good methods, the players also need to keep in mind that these same strategies can be used against them when it comes time for them to catch the ball. One of the lessons of this game is to develop a strategy for winning that may include several of the above methods. However, the developed strategy must also account for the fact that others will try to sabotage your chances of winning. Since the students’ fine motor skills are more developed during the later elementary school years (ages 9-10) than during the early years (ages 5-6), it is easier for students to establish a strategy for throwing the ball to their opponents.

Utter, Brenda. Pick and Plan: 100 Brain-compatible Strategies for Lesson Design. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press, 2007.