Tennis Balls Increase Children's Attention

By Carolyn Edwards

Children hear more poorly than adults in noisy situations. Although there is a gradual improvement through the elementary years, children are thirteen to fifteen years of age before they can cope in noise as well as adults do. Children with recurrent ear infections, language disorders, English as a second language, hearing loss in one ear, and any degree of hearing loss in both ears, have even more difficulty understanding speech in noise than their peers.

Classrooms are noisy places and the noise is primarily generated by children talking and chairs moving on uncarpeted floors. To give you an idea of sound levels, teachers' voices are often at a loudness level of 65 dB. During activity times, loudness Ievels range from 70 to 85 dB. The sound of one chair scraping on the floor of a portable classroom was measured at 85 dB. (The sound of a motorcycle or a jackhammer is about 100 dB.)

Noise interferes with children's comprehension of speech. Studies have consistently shown decreases of 35% to 40% in children's speech recognition from a fairly quiet room to the typical noise levels experienced in today's classroom.

Tennis balls are an inexpensive solution to decrease chair noise in the classroom. Take an exacto knife and cut an X in the top of each tennis ball. The X should be just large enough to insert the metal leg of the chair. Each chair requires four tennis balls.


Durability: Tennis balls have lasted two to three years in a classroom, before losing their effectiveness.:

Sound Reduction: Sound from chairs moving is reduced to a minimum.

Price: Varies with source.

Color: Ranges from fluorescent yellow to pink.

Where to Obtain: In addition to purchase, some teachers have approached local tennis clubs for donations of used tennis balls. Of course there are always the tennis balls from the roof of the school. Some teachers have put a box at the front of the school for donations from students and staff. Finally, some communities now include tennis balls as an item for recycling.

Teacher Comments: When teachers on the second floor have used the tennis balls on chair legs, the teacher underneath on the first floor has been delighted with the reduction in noise. Paradoxically, the elimination of noise has made the children more aware of noise, and communication has been easier in the classroom.

Children's Comments: They don't want to remove the tennis balls once the balls have been installed. Children say it is easier to hear other children, and easier to pay attention in the classroom.

Try it - One of the easiest improvements to the Classroom!

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