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Happy New Year! It’s January, it’s cold, and we’re going to talk about bubbles. You might be thinking it’s not the best time to whip out bubbles. That’s an outside toy! I disagree!! It’s the best time for bubbles. Using bubbles inside the house creates an excellent language opportunity for your kids.
Ack! How do I do this without making a mess and stressing out?!?!
When you bring bubbles inside, it’s important to have a small container. I like the small ones you get at weddings or as freebies. You can also get them here. Another option is this one here. This one is a little bigger, so there will be more to spill. The smaller bubble container makes it easier to control access to the bubbles and a possible spill is smaller. Have a towel on hand to make clean up quick.
I promise this can be a fun activity that works on speech and language goals at home.
Bubbles are a helpful toy for a variety of speech goals. The important thing is to keep your control over the bubbles if possible. You want to be the “gatekeeper” of fun. This limits spills and increases the time your child will engage with you. Being the “gatekeeper” with bubbles means your hands stays on the bubble jar and/or the bubble wand, and you only give it away when you get the response you want (i.e., they use two words to request bubbles).
1. Vocabulary Development
If your child has a limited vocabulary, you can target words like “pop,” “bubble,” big,” “little,” “mine,” “up,” “down,” “blow,” “help,” “go,” etc. If you are working on teaching the word, then try to say the word as often as possible.
It might feel weird to say the word often, but it’s helpful for the child to learn the new word. Research says children benefit when their parents repeat words to them often. See the research about vocabulary here or here. For example, let’s pretend your target word is “pop.” You would say something like “Pop. Pop the bubble. Pop, Pop, Pop. You pop the bubble”. You child heard the new word “pop” six times.
Once you know your child knows the word “pop.” You can move on to having the child say the word. Play might look something like this:
- Parent blows the bubbles and says “pop” while popping bubble. “Pop. Look I popped the bubble. Pop. You say it. Pop.”
- Wait for the child to imitate the word “pop.”
- If no response, encourage the child to say it with you. “Say it with me. P-ahahahah-p.” Stretch the vowel sound out to give your child more time to chime in with the word.
- If still no response, try just the “p” sound or the vowel “ah.”
- If still no response, go back to popping the bubbles and having a great time together. Try again another time!
2. Receptive Language Development
You can talk about different concepts when using bubbles. Some easy ones are big/little, up/down, wet/dry, and on/off. Teach the same as described above for vocabulary development. Try to have the child hear or experiment the concept as often as possible.
You can also word on following directions with bubbles. You can have the child do variety of actions. “Pop the bubble.” “Blow the bubble.” “Give me the bubbles.” “Stomp on the bubbles.” These are a few good ideas for following directions. You might think of more as you play. Keep the directions short for younger children, and longer for older children.
3. Expressive Language Development
Bubbles are universally motivating for children! It’s amazing. I usually pull this out at least one a week if not daily. It’s motivating for those kids that resist using words for requesting or asking for help. It’s easy to set up.
- Get the bubbles and make sure the cap is on tight.
- Give the bubbles to the child and wait. You can also say something like “Ask for help if you need it.”
- If the child struggles or hands it back to you. You can then model the word “help”, phrase “help me,” or sentence “I want help” depending on the level your child is at.
- If the child resisted, you can show them the sign for help. It’s a fist on your open palm. Raise both hands up. See this youtube video here. You can help the child sign if they still refuse.
Bubbles can also be used to work on two word phrases. You can model phrases like “pop bubbles, big bubble, little bubble, my bubble, my turn, get bubble, etc.”
4. Social Skills
Little kids need lots of help with sharing and taking turns. It’s not easy! Bubbles are a quick activity that can work on this skills. You don’t have to wait too long until it’s your turn again!
“My turn. Wait your turn. … Now it’s your turn. … Who’s next? Me!”
This works with just you and your child, and it is great for adding siblings and friends into the fun.
5. Positive Reinforcement for Articulation
If your child is in speech therapy, they might have a homework sheet. Children often resist doing speech homework at home. They see it as something that must stay in the speech room.
Adding bubbles might make it more fun to get a some boring drill work done. You can blow a bubble after each word the child says, or after the whole sheet is doing if they are an older child.
This works even better if your child is working on /b/ or /p/ words in therapy!!!
These are the top five ways I use bubbles in speech therapy on a daily basis. I hope you have a good idea how to now use bubbles at home with your child. If you want to look at more toys I recommend for speech therapy, then check out this post here. I also have a post here for books. What’s your favorite way to use bubbles?
Grab some bubbles here and start to play!