If you are anything like me, you don’t have lots of spare cash to be buying toddler games, toys and activities. Do not fear. Not all therapy resources need to cost the earth (literally and figuratively). So if you want to make a start without breaking the bank . . . keep reading.
First of all, the Speech Bulbs App is one option to consider for toddler language games that is a simple and cost effective place to start. Another option is to check out the website of your local speech and language service for resources and browse the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapist (RCSLT) site for evidence-based information and strategies.
Second of all, you can use what you already have! It does not need to be fancy to be effective. To prove this, below you will find an extensive list of toddler games that will boost their language.
Stay tuned for more future posts on 25 areas of speech and language you can support using a simple object for less than $6!
25 Balloon Games for Toddlers to Expand Vocabulary
1. Attention and listening – ready, steady, go!
Blow up the balloon (but do not tie), hold it out, and model “ready, steady, go!” . . . Let it go and watch it fly!
2. Noun learning – “balloon”
Model the word “balloon” when playing, catching, and exploring a balloon with your child. This can be in single words or small sentences.
3. Teaching present tense verbs
Model verbs as you play with the balloon with your child. These can be given in single words or small sentence. e.g. “the balloon is flying.” Use verbs that fit the context of your game, e. g. “flying,” “catching,” “bouncing,” “popping,” etc.
4. Teaching past tense verbs
Model past tense verbs as you play with the balloon with your child. Be aware these are often developed later in language. However, it’s useful for them to hear clear models early on. Start a conversation with a child about what happened with a balloon; e.g. “bounced,” “popped,” “caught,” etc.
5. Adjective learning – sizes “big” and “small”
Using different size balloons, model describing the size when playing with the balloon with your child. These can be modelled as single words or small sentences e.g “find all the big balloons,” or “put all the small balloons under the chair.”
6. Connectives (joining words) using “and”
Have a selection of colored balloons. Model small sentences such as “Look! red AND blue!” or longer sentences such as “Mummy has blue AND daddy has green balloon.”
7. Positional language – “up,” “down,” “high,” “low,” “above,” “below,” etc.
Model words that describe the position of the balloon when playing with the balloon with your child. These can be modelled in single words or small sentences e.g. “Balloon high,” “Balloon above head,” or “Balloon up.”
8. Question word – “what?”
Model simple questions using “WHAT?” questions when playing with the balloon with your child. For example, ask them, “What color is the balloon?” or “What is the balloon doing?” or “What color balloon do you like the most?”
9. Question word – “where?”
Model simple questions using the word “WHERE?” when playing with the balloon with your child. For example, ask them “Where is the balloon hiding?” or “Where did the balloon go?”
10. Question word – “who?”
Model simple questions using the word “WHO?” when playing with your child and the balloon. For example, ask them “Who has the balloon?” or “Who should throw the balloon next?”
11. Building sentences – model one, two, and three word sentences
These will often consist of words for people, actions, descriptions, places, e.g. “Mommy is bouncing the balloon,” “Daddy’s balloon is green,” or “The balloon is under the chair.”
12. Teaching body parts
Play “Simon says” with the balloon, e.g. “Simon says put the balloon on your nose.” Take it in turns to be Simon.
13. Teach furniture vocabulary
Play hide and seek. Hide the balloon and give clues using furniture names, e.g. “Look next to the sofa,” or “Look under the table.”
14. Practice turn taking
Each take a turn at rubbing the balloon on your hair to make it static and try to stick it on the wall.
15. Using “he” and “she”
Using two balloons, draw a face on each, one girl and one boy. Model what the balloon is doing using “he” and “she.” For example “She is flying,” and “He is under the table.”
16. Practice color words
Using a range of colored balloons, model and use the words for colors when playing with the balloon with your child, e.g. “Mommy has the blue balloon.”
17. Practice following instructions
Give your child one/two/three word instructions, e.g. “Throw!” or “Catch!” and “Balloon on head,” and “Pop the green balloon,” etc.
18. Imaginative play
Play with your child and encourage them to imagine that the balloon is something else, e.g. an animal, a flying saucer, or a baby.
19. Long vowels and consonants
Throw the balloon in the air and model creating long vowel/consonant sounds as the balloon falls to the ground. Try and make the sound as long as it takes the balloon to get to the ground. For example: “eeee, ooooo, ahhh, eeerrrr, ssss, zzzz, ffff, vvvvvv, mmmmm, nnnnn.”
20. Short vowel and consonants
Bounce the balloon in your hand. Try and make the sound as many times as you can bounce the balloon on your hand, e.g. “bbbb, ttt, eye,eye,eye, oh,oh,oh, ggg, lll,” etc.
21. Breathing and blowing
Put the balloon on a surface and blow the balloon as far as you can. You can talk about taking a big breath into your tummy and blowing out through the small hole in your lips.
22. Teamwork and communication
In a pair (with an adult or a peer) see how many balloons a person can hold. Use language to negotiate and problem solve how, working together, one person can hold the most balloons, e.g. “Put one between my knees,”, etc.
23. Sensory/attention regulation, option one
Give your child the balloon. Stretch, pop, blow into, etc. to mouths (supervise at all times.)
24. Sensory/attention regulation, option two
Fill the balloon with rice/sand/corn flour and tie a knot. This creates an object they can squish and fiddle with to occupy their hands.
25. Exploring books and narrative
Blow up the balloons half way and tie. Draw the faces of characters in a book on to the balloon. Use the balloons to be the characters to speak while reading the book.
Use Speech Blubs App as a smart screen time solution that offers you a bunch of toddler practice games for as little as $4.99/month if you grab our Special Yearly Plan Offer. With the app, you can play many activities from the list above, e.g. building sentences, learning colors, practice turn-taking, teaching about furniture, etc. Download Speech Blubs App now!
If you have a baby under the age of one, you can still find loads of fun engaging playtime activities to teach language! Check out our list of 21 Baby Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development in Children under One.