We are continuing our theme of Fun in the Sun July. Although this activity can be paired back to play in the house on a cold or rainy day, it’s most fun outside where no one has to worry about hitting, breaking or bumping!
Do not leave babies and young toddlers alone with small balls that could be a choking hazard.
Balls are one of the earliest and most universal toys for babies/toddlers, and we continue to use them throughout adolescence and adulthood. Therefore, by making small changes to your activity you can engage people of any age.
Whether you are playing a simple game of catch, sitting in a homemade ball pit, using a ball popper or playing basketball there are a wide variety of language, articulation, social language and fluency goals you can target. At the bottom of the post take a look at some of our favorite outside-the-box ball activities.
Social Language: When playing roll or catch with a ball you work on (eye contact) watch your partner (body language) are they ready to catch? Are you showing them that you are ready? (wait time/ turn taking) being patient and taking turns throwing/catching.
Articulation Sounds: Ball play is full of early words with articulation
But you can also use any type of repeated ball activity (throwing, rolling) as a drill activity for any sound. Just have a word list and require X number of words before a turn.
- Sizes: big, small, bigger, biggest, huge (if you have multiple sized balls)
- Colors (if you have ball of multiple colors)
- Tactile Concepts: bumpy, squishy, smooth (depending on the balls)
- Counting (throws, rolls, bounces)
- Prepositions: In, on, off, through, up, down, next to, in front, behind, top, bottom, ect (playing with hoops, tunnels, cups, boxes, ect)
- Verbs: Throw, kick, roll, hit, hide, find, look, bounce, catch, get
- Requesting (a turn, throw vs roll)
- Building phrases with words/sign (more, more +ball, more+balls+please, thow + ball, roll + ball)
- Words to target may include: more, ball, throw, roll, kick, hit
Fluency: When introducing the concepts of slow easy speech v. quick bump speech I will take two balls, tape a picture of a turtle on one and bunny on the other. We talk about the bunny bouncing fast (bounce the ball back and forth, lose control have it go crazy) and the turtle rolling slow and easy (roll back and forth slowly on target).
Fun Ball Ideas
FOR OLDER KIDS
Get a dollar store beach ball. Blow it up and use a sharpie to write targets (language concepts, artic sound, fluency targets) all over the ball. Play a game of catch and wherever the students thumb lands they have to answer or use the target as you specify!
FOR ALL AGE DEPENDING ON INTEREST LEVEL
Homemade ball pit: Get a kid pool and PVC balls at Wal-Mart or Amazon for less than $30 to make a ball pit!
Ball Poppers: Playskool and Fisher Price both make fun ball poppers
Sensory or Textured Balls: Great for talking about describing concepts
Giant Exercise Ball: Allows children to get on or ride the ball for extra fun
Balls with hammers: Brings in cause/effect with hitting
Hoberman balls: Lots of fun and great for size concepts as they open and stretch
Bouncy Balls: Lots of fun to hide and hunt for, also great for a little chase. They come is all sorts or colors and designs and sometimes have items it side. That can be great to work on describing!