How to use balloons and playdough to enhance your child’s language skills.

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How to use balloons and playdough to enhance your child’s language skills. »

Have you ever thought about using balloons and playdough as a way to improve your child’s language skills and not just as fun toys? Here are some ideas to get you started on targeting different areas of language with your child when playing with balloons and playdough.


Balloons are relatively cheap and easily accessible and are always a hit with children! Use balloons to help teach your children the following concepts:
Size – Blow up balloons to different sizes and talk about them with your child using terms like “big”, “large”, “small” and “little”. Have your child ‘point to’ different sized balloons (e.g. “Point to big”) or tell you about the size of the balloon (e.g. “This one is big, and this one is….?”).

Ordering – Blow up 3-5 balloons to different sizes and ask your child to order them from biggest to smallest, or smallest to biggest. Talk about the different sizes of balloons with your child and use comparative forms (e.g. bigger and smaller) and superlative forms (e.g. biggest and smallest). Use modelled sentences such as:  “This one is big, but this one is (bigger), and this one is the (biggest)” to encourage your child to use the ‘-er’ and ‘-est’ endings on their words.Colours – Use an assorted packet of balloons to talk about the different colours you can see. Target your child’s understanding of colours by laying balloons out in front of you and asking them to ‘find’ a colour (e.g. “find pink”), and then as a reward, blow the balloon up and let it fly around the room. To target your child’s use of colours, ask your child to choose a balloon and tell you the colour before you blow it up.

You can also use balloons to work on requesting (e.g. “I want red balloon please”), give commands (“stop” when blowing balloon up, “go” to make the balloon fly), use 2 word combinations (“more balloon”, “balloon up”, “go balloon”, “more up”), high and low (if using helium balloons), turn taking games (Pass/hit a tied off balloon around e.g. “Balloon to daddy. Balloon to [child]. Balloon to mummy” and talk about “whose turn” using terms “my turn” and “your turn”), long and short (tie pieces of string/ribbon to your balloons and talk about the length of the strings) and to target verbs (action words such as “flying”, “blowing”, “go”, “zoom”).


How to use balloons and playdough to enhance your child’s language skills. »

Most children enjoy creating artistic masterpieces with Playdough, but have you ever thought of using it as a tool to expand their language skills? Don’t worry if you don’t have access to Playdough at home, you can always make your own (with help from the kids) using a recipe like this: http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/no-cook-play-dough-L2119.html . Use your Playdough to help teach the following concepts:

Letter recognition – Use playdough rolled in to snakes or rolled in to small balls to form basic letters. Try having your child copy letters that you have made with playdough, or write letters with texta on to a piece of paper and have them form playdough letters over the top of the written letters. Start with simple letters such as ‘A’, ‘L’, ‘T’, ‘O’ and letters in your child’s name.Length – Roll playdough in to long and short ‘snakes’ and use to teach your child ‘long’ and ‘short’. To target their understanding of long and short, ask your child to make ‘spots’ or ‘stripes’ on the chosen snake (e.g “put a spot on the short snake”). Target your child’s use of long and short by asking them to tell you about the snake that they are playing with (e.g. “mine is short and yours is…?”, “what sort of snake do you have?”

Following instructions – Have your child follow simple instructions such as “roll, roll, roll, stop!” and use other concept terms in you instructions, such as “make a long snake”, “roll a big ball”. Use terms such as ‘first’ and ‘last’ to give instructions (e.g.” first make a ball, and last make a snake” or using a flat piece of playdough “first make eyes, next make a nose, and last make a mouth”), as well as terms like ‘before’ and ‘after’. Ask your child to either make shapes and patterns with instructions or ‘point to’ shapes and patterns already created in your work area.

You can also use playdough to work on size (big and little, small and large), ordering of sizes (biggest to smallest, smallest to biggest), using two word combinations (“big one”, “roll ball”, “green one”, “more snake”, “build up” ), colours, thickness (thick and thin playdough sausages), shapes (use playdough to form different outlines of shapes),answering questions (“What did you make?”) and to target verbs (action words such as “rolling”, “building”, “making” and “playing”.

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