Top Toys To Get Toddler's Talking With Bonus Vocabulary Builder
I love playing skittles in my speech therapy clinic and with
young kids. Who doesn’t like bowling with all the crashing and excitement when
you knock them down! Skittles have such a fun physical aspect so children
can really get involved in the game. They can build and use their talking skills
without even realising they are learning! You can optimise their
learning by FOCUSing on different aspects of listening, talking and playing
each time you play.
With new toys it is always great
to watch what children do without any directions or suggestions! (if safe of
course). What do they do? What sounds, exclamations or words do they make? Do
they recognise it or relate to going bowling if they have been before?
Communicating with others
Learning social interactional
skills can take time. Modelling, what to do and saying things they can copy is
a great way to build "game resilience". Skittles are great to encourage the
Turn - Taking Skills
My turn to roll/your turn to roll. Use phrases like your turn, now my turn”. Praise with “good waiting” for your turn. Acknowledge it’s hard to wait sometimes (“It’s hard waiting but I like it too”). For younger children or those that do not really “get” waiting for a turn, then ensure you still have a turn but make it a very quick turn. If you both have balls, this can reduce the waiting time while the ball is collected.
Learning Boundaries & "Rules"
Use the word "rules" to build it into a child's vocabulary. Explain rules such as: not too close, knocking it down with your hand isn’t the aim of the game, being too “robust” can make the ball fly off and hit something other than the skittles. Praise their attempts and tell them what was good (e.g., that was a great try - Rolling is much better than throwing).
Coping with not always being "Perfect" or the "Best"
Sometimes I might knock more over and sometimes you knock more over! Sometimes I miss completely, sometimes I get them all! Praise effort not just how many they knock down. Provide scripts your child can use (e.g., deliberately miss and say “oh no I missed” with a sad pouty voice but then quickly exaggerate your change of mood saying “Oh well, next turn! (shrugging it off).
Understanding of language comes before talking
You will be surprised how you can use Skittles to build
vocabulary and the ability to follow instructions. Use the three steps below while playing
Skittles with your child.
Cause & Effect
This refers to building an understanding that “what I say
and do will impact on things or people”. When you think about it this is a key
underlying reason why we all talk! Talk about, demonstrate and use words
to encourage them to see that if they roll the ball the right direction some
skittles will fall down. Encourage them to “experiment” and talk about the
results. Does the number of skittles falling down get more or less if I roll it
hard or soft. ("Oh too soft; the roll was too little; not strong enough to push
Following Directions & Explanations
There are SO many directions you can use with skittles you probably
wouldn’t even realise just how many you are naturally using! E.g., Put the skittles up, stand here, roll it
rather than throw it, wait for my turn, stand up the one that fell down, pick
it up, give it to me, get the ball, give the ball to ____, if you roll it there
they will fall down, try to knock them all down.
ball, skittle, floor, hand (use your hand)
*Describing words – too
hard, little roll, big roll, red skittle, lots of skittles, heavy skittle,
crashing down, noisy skittles
*Action words –
rolling, falling, standing up, knocking down, bouncing, pushing,
*Maths words –
counting how many fall down or stay standing, more or less than me/ than last
words: your turn, my turn, Daddy’s, you (you stand it up), me (give the ball to me), I (I got one).
skittles go up, down, on the floor, over there, next to that one, behind that
*Social words: help
(if skittle won’t stand up), thank you/ta, please
(asking for ball)
Spoken Speech & Language
Games that are fun and exciting to play are the best to boost speech & language! Children learn best when they are enjoying themselves. You can adapt what you would like your toddler to say or do depending on their age and speaking skills. Skittles are SO versatile you can use them with any age and any speaking skill!
Children Not Really Saying Words Yet
*Encourage them to imitate
your actions (standing up the skittle, rolling it towards the skittles,
jumping up and down in excitement when you get one)
*Encourage them to copy
Exclamations: Oh Boy does skittles lend itself to exclamations! Weeeeee (as
you roll), Boom! Or Crash? (when the ball hits with force or they scatter), Uh OH!
or OH NO! (when the ball misses), Yeah!, yay!, wow! (when you get a skittle)
*Encourage gestures to communicate with you eg encourage
them to point to where the ball is or to
the one that fell over; tap their chest to say “me” to ask for a
turn or pat the spot where they want you to put the skittle; mime rolling to show you they want to do it
Children Ready to Use a Few Single Words
*Encourage them to use the last word in a common phrase eg
Read, Set, ______ (as the ball is rolled), 1, 2, ____ (counting fallen
Building New Words & Sentences
Take a look in the “understanding section” – for any of the
words or phrases suggested in that section that you think your child does
“understand” then encourage them to use the words during the game. If you say the
same phrases EVERYTIME (scripts) your child will learn to match the word with
the thing or object. This will encourage them to say it too. If you pick “up”
as a target for them to say then you say “Stand UP skittle, stand UP skittle” everytime you or they stand a skittle up.
Believe me that will be lots of repetitions in even a 10 minute game of skittles! Repetition
is the key. If you say this every time
and then after a while you say “stand ______” with an expected tone in your
voice as you pause putting the skittle up, your child just might finish the
sentence with a word.
If you are getting words then encourage them to use whole sentences
or longer sentences eg "stand up skittle"; “I can stand this one up”,"I think I will get 3 skittles
this time!"; “the blue skittle fell down but the green one didn’t”.
In therapy I use the actual game in all the above ways to
target all of the above activities. But to make it a star of speech and
language learning I incorporate added extras!
This is how I use Skittles to boost speech clarity.
If I am encouraging a specific sound, skittles can be a great way to “drill” or say the same words over and over. I use blue tac to stick lots of pictures of things starting with the same sound (e.g., the /h/ sound: house, hand, hippo). We can then encourage the children to name the pictures as we stand each skittle up. The anticipation of playing the game can be enough to boost their willingness to name the pictures. Then they get to have a turn rolling the ball. You can then name the ones that fall down again! Drilling the new sounds and and loving it at the same time! Skittles can even encourage sentences e.g. (my ball hit the h____; Here is the h_____). Always consult a speech pathologist if you have concerns about your child's speech and language development.
This is how I use Skittles to boost language / vocabulary skills.
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Tell us in the Comments your ideas for Skittles. Take a look at a few different version of skittle sets on Amazon!Hey! Play! Lawn Bowling Game/Skittle Ball- Indoor and Outdoor Fun for Toddlers, Kids, Adults -10 Wooden Pins, 2 Balls, and Mesh Bag Set by (8 Inch)
* There are so many different sets of skittles available. The ones shown are for example purposes, but they are affiliate links to Amazon.