Some kids (and adults) like touching things with different textures. Josh had an old inner tube after his bike got a flat, so I cut it apart to make a ball for our little boy. It didn't take very long, but it was difficult to finish because my three year old kept trying to grab it before it was done.
It can be made denser than the one I made, but right now it's easy to wad it up and shove it in my 3 year old's pocket.
old bike inner tube
strong thread or embroidery floss
Step 1: Cut the Tube
I only had part of a tube because Josh used the rest on some mod for a Nerf gun.
Slice some thin rings from the tube with the scissors. The outside edges will be slightly wider than the inside. That's fine.
Snip the rings open so they become strips.
You could certainly leave the loops uncut, but I don't trust my three year old to not try to stretch them around things he shouldn't. Strips are safer in our household.
Step 2: Form the Base
Fold one of the strips in half; it might already have a crease. Thread the needle and poke it through both layers of rubber near the fold. Slide the rubber strip down the thread, leaving about a four inch tail. Repeat with a few more strips; I used thirteen here.
Pull both ends of the string together so the strips form a tight circle. Pull tightly and tie, but don't snip the string. You'll notice that, due to the knot, some strips are closer together than other strips. Wrap the string tightly around the ball between strips that are close together to help space things out more evenly.
Step 3: Add Sides
Poke the needle through a few more strips; I used six here. Slide the rubber strips close to the base, then wrap the thread tightly around your ball so the six new rubber strips form a half circle perpendicular to the first circle you made. Wrap the string around the ball between the strips that need a little more space between them.
Repeat with a few more strips on the other side of the base. Find the tail of the string and use it to tie both ends tightly together.
Step 4: Fill in Spaces and Tie Off
Your ball will look a little sparse and uneven. Poke the needle through the center of the ball and pull it out at a sparse area. Thread one or two strips onto the needle, pull them tightly against the ball, and poke the needle through the center of the ball to another sparse area. Continue until the ball is as dense and round as you want it. Wrap the string around the ball here and there, pulling very tightly, to space out any strips that need it. Find the tail end of the string and once again tie it together with the other end. Snip off the excess string and throw your ball at the nearest person.
It's easy to catch even for those of us who are a little bit clumsy. This ball makes a great fiddling object for kids who crave tactile stimulation.