Parents often tell me they wish they could think of games like mine to use with their kids at home. Here are some simple ways to use easy-to-find toys to target increasing all levels of speech and language:
1. Plastic Eggs:
Around this time of year, it's easy to find a plethora of assorted plastic eggs. There are glittered eggs, large eggs, sports themed eggs and so on. They're great for hiding objects of all kinds of categories. If your'e working on a specific speech sound, find items that have that sound in their names. If you're working on a specific category, choose items from that category. You can place the eggs in a bag, and have the child reach in and pull an egg out. Or you can hide them around the house and have an egg hunt. While searching for the eggs, you can work on prepositions: "Where was the egg?"... "under the table," or "next to the sink." There are tons of opportunities to talk about the color, size and number of eggs too! I've even printed small pictures to fold up and place inside eggs! Have fun!
Whoever discovered bubbles could be bottled up...thank you!! They are one of go-to therapy tools.
For the early language and prelinguistic phase:
1. Kids can watch you blow bubbles, and if it grabs their attention...model ready, set, go to get their attention. Like I discussed in my blog: Engaging the Inner Child in Play, pause a bit before “go” to target increasing engagement.
2. Model popping the bubbles with your pointer finger, stomping on them with your feet or clapping them with your hands. Pick the kiddo up and fly him through a storm of bubbles. You're bound to get a reaction. Model "more?".
3. Pop the bubbles on their head, tummy, on your own face and exaggerate your reaction to the wetness on your face to get a laugh.
4. Put the wand in front of his face to see if he will try to blow!
For articulation and verbal language:
1. Take turns blowing bubbles. Model “my turn." Even better with multiple kids working on social skills! Try vocalizing words like ”pop” and “more bubbles!”
2. You can work on lip rounding and airflow. Both very important precursors to articulation. Make sure to help reduce puffy cheek-blowing by holding he child's cheeks and pushing their lips out for a pucker.
3. Blow bubbles of different sizes to work on big vs small concepts. This also lends well to choice making: "do you want a big bubble or a small bubble?".
4. Counting the bubbles in the air and then counting as you pop, is a fun and easy activity.
5. Catch a bubble on the wand and make it “dance” by blowing lightly on the bubble just enough to make it wiggle and not fall off the wand. This is a fun challenge for kids. Tell them, "Make it dance, but don't let it fall off!" It's a great way to target lip rounding and air control, building awareness of their strength and breath control.
6. Catch a bubble and pop it on various parts of the body or clothing item to work on labeling and choice-making.
Buy yourself a bag of party balloons and a cheap pump at a party store. The multi-colored balloons are the perfect introduction to requesting certain colors and working on color identification. Then pump up the chosen balloon slowly, counting to 10...pause... and then use the ready-set-go technique to build anticipation and engagement; and then let it fly!!! It will fly all over the room and land in a different spot every time. It's a great way to grab the child's attention. Even if you have to let the balloon fly before getting his attention, the flying, sputtering balloon is sure to get a look!
1. Location: Where did the balloon land?
2. Colors: Requesting, naming, choosing
3. Expanding phrases: maybe your child is only speaking one word, "go!"? That's totally fine. You can continue modeling "ready, set, ......" and let him fill in "go," then slowly pause earlier and earlier to cue him to then fill in "set, go" and so on. "3-2-1 Blastoff!!" is a fun one too, especially using a "rocket balloon" (check them out here).
4. Turn taking: most kids want to try the pump, or let the balloon fly. Model "my turn."
5. Body parts: The pump by itself is a fun tool. You can use it to shoot a burst of air at different parts of his body to get a laugh. Before you know it, he'll be pointing to or asking for you to aim it at his arm, face or hands!
6. Requesting help: Pumping a balloon takes some coordination. When it's the child's turn, he's bound to need help. Model "help me, mommy!" or the sign for "help" while he's motivated.