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Toss in Father’s Day fun

Mon., June 8, 2009

Make a wonderfully versatile toy for the family to enjoy with Dad on Father’s Day and all summer long.

These scoops for tossing and catching lightweight balls are perfect for play in the backyard, at a park or especially when you’re at the beach: When the family wants to play a game of catch, you’ve got that one covered. And when you need a sand shovel, you’ve got that, too.

Start by fishing around under your sink or in the recycling bin for two plastic laundry detergent bottles. You might want to think about pouring the contents of an almost-empty container into a small plastic container so that you can get this activity on the road.

Here’s what you’ll need:

•Two 2-quart or larger plastic laundry detergent bottles with side handles




•Child’s sock (optional)

Here’s the fun:

Wash the bottles and remove any paper labels. With a pair of sharp scissors, an adult should cut off the entire base of each bottle and toss the pieces back in the recycling bin. It’s easier to cut off than it might look; dig the tip of the scissors into a point along the line of the base and then just start cutting.

On the handle side of the container, draw a big “U” shape with a marker so that the bottom of the “U” meets the handle. The shape should be wider than the size of a plastic Wiffle-style ball and extend to the cut-off base. Again, an adult should cut this shape out. Soften the edges by trimming off and rounding the sharp corners.

Let the kids decorate the two scoops with stickers. Now you have your ball catchers and great sand shovels.

But, uh-oh: In the middle of a great game of scooper catch, the ball disappears into an unexpected wave. Is the game over? No!

Remove the lid and cup a sock around the spout of one of the scoops. Pour some sand into the scoop so that it works as a funnel, filling the bottom of the sock. When your “ball” is the size you would like for tossing, remove from the scoop and tie a secure, tight knot in the sock. Replace the lid on the scoop.

Stand up, put the sock in one scoop, give the other scoop to a friend, and toss the ball. If you miss, keep at it. It does take practice, after all.

Tip: If your kids are a little older and are skilled ball players, you might want to consider making the opening of the scoop a bit smaller for more of a challenge. Or, simply start with a smaller detergent bottle.

Donna Erickson is the author of several books about family activities and host of a public television series. See more at

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