One of our awesome speechies has her 21st birthday in a couple of weeks… her 21st birthday as a speech pathologist that is.
When I asked her what she’d like for her “birthday” she said she’d like to get a bunch of helium balloons and give them away to all of the kids that come in on the day. By my calculations that will be 50 helium balloons – I have visions from the movie “Up” running through my head!
There’s something about balloons though….. kids love them and I’ve been playing with balloons a lot lately in the clinic.
Here are my top 5 balloon games that I’ve used this week to work on sounds, pronouns, prepositions, literacy and following instructions.
The Balloon Rocket
This game is a great one to use as a homework motivator. Use whatever target it is that you’ve been working on and add a breath of air to the balloon after every correct try at the word/sound/sentence. When the balloon is sufficiently full, let the balloon go and watch it blast off.
Pronouns can be tricky for children to learn and simple sorting and labelling games can get boring after awhile. To play this game you need a large picture of a boy and a large picture of a girl. Glue each picture onto a separate A4 envelope. Then hide a balloon (not blown up) in either the girls envelope or the boys envelope. Put the envelopes on the table and encourage your child to guess where the balloon is. You could model sentences like“Does she have the ballon?”“I think he has it.”“The balloon is in her envelope.”“The balloon is his”.When they get a certain number of pronouns correct (aim for a number between 5-10) blow the balloon up and draw a face on it. Then you can practice sentences like“He needs eyes”.“She needs a nose”.“Put on his hair”.“Her eyes need eyelashes”.
Where it Stops, Nobody Knows
This one is all about practicing prepositions- words like in, on, under, over, next to, behind, in front. Grab an old box and take turns hiding a balloon and guessing where it is. When you’ve guessed where it is blow it up and let it go. Then tell where it lands.
I can’t write an article about balloons without having at least one popping game. The skill of adding and deleting sounds is an important pre-literacy skill for children to learn. Find a list of words with blends at the beginning or end of the word (you can just google this). Blow up some balloons and write one letter on each balloon. Help your child decode (or sound out the word). Then say what would X be without the x-sound. Eg what would train be without the /t/-sound? If your child can work it out they get to pop the /t/ balloon.
Up, Up and Away
For this activity, you’ll need a few very small items. Things like little plastic toys, small coins or buttons, pictures cut out of catalogues will work. Give your child an instruction to follow Eg “Put the little chicken into the green balloon” or if you are practicing following longer instructions maybe someone like “Put the eggs and the flower in the blue balloon and the cat in the red balloon.”
Kylie Martin is a speech pathologist at Chatter-boxes Speech Pathology Services. For advice or information on speech and language development, play, feeding or social communication visit www.chatter-boxes.com.au