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New Year's Eve Countdown Ball

Develop number sense through a fine motor skill activity.

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Create your own countdown ball to celebrate 2021!

New Year's Eve is often celebrated by counting down the last seconds of the current year. There is a giant ball on a pole located on the roof of One Times Square in New York City, NY. As the countdown begins,the ball slowly drops. At the end of the countdown, fireworks and music announce the beginning of a new year. Practice your own New Year countdown with a miniature countdown prop.


For this developmental activity you will need:

Paper plates

Paper strips

Arts and crafts materials: pipe cleaners, pompoms, feathers, buttons, etc




Coloring tools

Learning Outcomes


Cognitive, Language


Develop number sense through a fine motor skill activity.


Develop number sense

Counting backwards

Developing fine motor skills


Step 1:

Ahead of time, use scissors to cut two horizontal slits in the center of each plate. Make them about 1.5" to 2" wide, with the top strip about 1.75" above the bottom strip. 

Step 2:

Give one plate to each child. Invite children to color the back of the plate as a colorful countdown "ball".

Step 3:

Give each child one paper strip. Assist children in tracing or printing numerals 10 through 0 down the strip in a column. (Leave about 5 or 6 inches of strip blank above numeral 10 and below 0 so that the plate remains on the strip as you move it up or down.) Show children how to weave the paper strip through the slits in the plate.

Step 4:

Once the strip is in, have the children decorate the ball with art and craft supplies.

Step 5:

Have children hold the top of the paper strip with one hand. They will use their other hand to slowly move the plate down the strip so the numbers show on the middle of the plate one at a time.

Individualize: For younger children, omit the number strip. Have them hold the plate above their heads to serve as the countdown ball. As you count down together, have them slowly lower the plate to the ground.

Playful Questions

Do you know how many seconds there are in a minute?

Do you know why we countdown for New Years?

Can we make a wish for each second on the countdown?

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