There is no speech therapist out there that doesn't love bubbles. Bubbles work on oral motor development, "bubble" and "pop" are easy words to say. Blowing bubbles are a perfect activity for turn taking. Popping bubbles with a pointed finger helps with pointing in books. BUBBLES ARE FUN!!!!!
So, first let's think about oral motor and bubbles. Many children that have trouble with communication tend to have low muscle tone in their mouths. Blowing is hard, puckering is hard, sucking from a straw can be hard. But, the more your child works those muscles and gets them to working the best they can, the clearer their sounds will be and the easier it will be for your child to eat more variety. Who knew?????
Here are a couple tricks to help your child learn to blow a bubble through a bubble wand.
1. You blow a bubble and catch it on the wand, then encourage your child to blow the bubble off the wand. (If that is still too hard, position yourself beside your child so that you can help blow the bubble off the wand). Even if your child is not puckering they may be able to blow out enough air to get that bubble off by themselves. You want your child to be successful so that they want to keep doing the bubble blowing.
2. Another trick is to gently pinch in their cheeks with your hand which makes their lips/mouth form a pucker...then encourage them to blow, either into the bubble wand or just blowing the bubble you caught that is on top of the wand.
Now let's think of the language part of this activity.
1. As I said, the word "bubble (bubba)" is easy to produce. So is the work "pop". You now have a great activity to expand vocabulary and that vocabulary is easy to say, yipee!!
2. You can also add the word/sign for "more" and then you are looking at focusing on 2 word phrases, "more bubble". More language expansion examples could be "oh no, bubble pop", "where bubble go?", "bye bubble", "bubble pop", "pop, pop, pop".
3. You can even work on understanding more language. You can focus on body parts and talk about "I am going to put the bubble on your foot"....wait....smile....look at the foot....pop the bubble on the foot... and you have just expanded their understanding of body parts. Now, don't get into quizzing them but just lots of modelling. Of course you can also stick in a choice like "do you want the bubble on your tummy or your foot?" and see how they respond. Do they point?, do they smile?, do they look at the body part?, do they pull up their shirt? Now they are demonstrating their understanding of language without it being a test :)
4. Involving movement makes this even more fun and also will get more turns out of your sensory kiddo. So, when you blow the bubbles for your child, have them "stomp" on those bubbles while saying "pop" for every bubble popped. You can jump with both feet to pop those bubbles. If you are outside they can run to catch those bubbles flying around.
5. More bubble ideas.
- Using a mixture of dawn detergent and water (check online for the recipe) makes big, strong bubbles. Yes, they will sting eyes and taste icky :) But with this mixture you can dip a circle of string into it and swing it around and make BIG bubbles that don't pop easily. You can use those big bubble wands (I mean the really big ones) to produce those big bubbles.
- Buy one of those "bubble guns" that shoot out tons of bubbles. Just the amount is amazing to the kids.
- Put a bubble wand in front of a standing fan and watch the hundred of bubbles come out.
- Put soapy water in a dishpan or bowl and take straws or tubing and blow air into the mixtures and watch it grow with bubbles. This is also a good activity to do with a glass of milk.
- If you live where it freezes, blow bubbles outside and watch them break as they pop...it's amazing.
6. Here is the most extreme suggestion (and so much fun!!). I worked with a group of amazing women that created many "over the top", sensory, fun activities for children and this is one of my favorites. Thanks Terri for your imagination and creativity :)
Have children in swimsuits, diapers or clothes that you don't mind getting wet and soapy....do this outside. We started with a water table. Inside we placed a bubble mat that you would put on the bottom of your bathtub to create a spa experience. OK, now you would place a bunch of shampoo or bubble bath (look for ones that won't irritate eyes)....I know you can see where this is going :).....add some water, plug in the bubble mat and watch what happens!!!! A wall of bubbles will grow from the table that eventually will fold over onto the ground from gravity. The kids we did this with (my son included) actually sat inside the folded over area, like a fort and then, of course had fun "being one" with the bubble wall. Suggest this to the preschool/daycare teachers out there. If they look at you like you're nuts, refer them to me :)
Now, imagine how this experience would be for your child. EXTREME BUBBLES!!! Language will pop, I guarantee that, fun will be had and memories will be made.
I bet you will never look at bubbles in the same way :) Have a great week!!