Balloons are a great way to practice speech and language skills. As a matter of fact, I usually keep a balloon in my wallet to pull out at any time we have some waiting time and I need to keep my kids entertained! They take up very little room and bring a lot of bang for the buck (or pop for your pennies, since they are so reasonably priced!).
Body PartsWe work on language skills like body parts by trying to hit the balloon with different parts. For one round, use your hands, then try elbows, head, shoulder, knee, toes, or any other part you can think of (some would be more challenging like "hip"; and some I wouldn't try, like eyelashes...but do what you think would be fun!)
"Up!"You can work on simple directional terms like "up" or "down" by saying where the balloon is going each time you hit it.
"Uh-oh!"A beginning sound that you could model is "uh-oh" (like something is wrong) each time the balloon touches the floor. You could also work on the phrase "fall down!" or "oh no!"
CategoriesThis would be a game for older kiddos. Pick a category like colors, animals, foods, etc... and each time you hit the balloon you name an item in that category. Once you cannot think of a word, you switch categories.
CountingPlay a game like Keep It Up where you hit the ball into the air over and over trying to keep it from touching the floor. But each time you hit it up count to see how many times in a row you can do it. If your child is young, try to get them to count with you. Toddlers can learn to count to 10. Three year olds can count a little higher. Work on counting to 20 with your four and five year old. Children work on counting to 100 in kindergarten. That being said, I usually work on adding two or three numbers to what a child already does. So if your child doesn't count at all, start with 1-2-3! If he can count to 10, add 11-12-13! It doesn't matter what age your child is, just build on the skill that is already there :)
Turn TakingThis is more of a social skill than an expressive language skill (like those above) but it is an important skill. Kiddos would rather it be their turn every turn during a fun game like Keep It Up. So this is a good one to work on "your turn" "my turn" practice. If your child tries to go twice in a row, you grab and hold on to the balloon and talk about it. Talking about taking turns in the moment is a good way to teach and model this skill.
Speech Sound PracticeThis is one of my favorites. It's fun and encourages lots of repetitions of the same word without it seeming like lots of repetitions. Start with your list of words or pictures and pick something to say. Toss the balloon into the air and each time you bop it back up you say your word (or phrase or sentence). Play continues with that word until it touches the floor or another "off limits" area like a table or couch. Parents can cause the round to end more quickly (in order to work on a new word) by hitting the balloon in the direction of the "off limits" area and the child can protect the balloon from going there. This adds another element of fun to the game.
Balloons are so much fun! They are cheap and easy to carry with you all the time. Please, though, be careful with balloons. They do pop and can pose a choking hazard. Always monitor your children around balloons!
So, stop by the store and pick up a pack of balloons! Have fun with these games!
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