Review: Thumballs Help You Learn While You Play

Geek Culture

Playing catch with your children is something that all parents do. From the time that our kids can sit up on their own, we’re rolling a ball back and forth. Later, we toss the ball in the air. Eventually, some families graduate to a ball and glove. While this rarely gets old for the kids, sometimes we are looking for an active pastime that has more to it.

Enter Thumballs. These smallish, squishy balls have a very soft exterior, excellent for throwing and catching by people with small hands. Each section is printed with categories, words, shapes, letters or numbers, and are intended to get people talking while they play. Depending on the ball, you can help preschoolers practice counting or you can break the ice learning about your fellow grownups. The instructions are simple. Toss the ball to someone, and whatever their thumb lands on, they do. Depending on the Thumball used, the catcher gets to say a letter or a number, or give an answer that fits a category, or do a certain kind of exercise.

At first I thought their small size (four inch diameter) was a drawback, then I discovered how easily I could toss one in my purse, or carry several in one bag. Some models also come in six inch diameters. If you buy a set of Thumballs, they come with a carabiner to clip them all together. Three balls easily fit on one carabiner strap, which has a second carabiner on the other end to clip to your belt loop or bag. If you don’t buy a set of balls, you can also buy the carabiner separately.

Even if you don’t have anyone to play with, Thumballs are great for tossing on your own. They could even inspire your writing or other projects. The balls are best when used in a decently large group, though. In a small group, you end up with too many of the same answers. You can easily use Thumballs in any social situation including at school, family reunions, play dates, even dinner parties. You will probably learn something about yourself and others.

Some of the Thumballs available include: “Who Are You,” “Virtues & Values,” “Emotion Mania,” “Move Your Body,” “Shapes” and “Parts of a Story.” Visit the Thumball website to see the entire collection. The website also contains other ideas for Thumball play.

Thumballs retail for $10.99 for the four inch variety and $13.99 for the six inch. There are also a variety of sets available. Many of the Thumballs are also on Amazon, at similar prices.

Wired: Thumballs get people talking about anything and everything. They are easy for people of all ages to learn to use, and to throw and catch.

Tired: To use the carabiner, you need to leave on the tag loop, which sometimes can get in the way of play.

Note: I received three of the small Thumballs to review.

(All images courtesy of Thumballs.)

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