Phlat Ball - Speech Therapy Toys & How To Use Them!

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​Phlat Ball

Focus: Phlat ball  

Speech              Therapist            Dr Sandra McMahon PhD
Phlat balls are flat discs that pop up into a ball shape. They are made of soft plastic and the “pop” time is random which adds to the fun of the game. Can be used as a Frisbee with a twist or just a fun ball. I like to place light soft toys or picture/ letter/ sight word cards on top so that the toy flies into the air when the toy pops – it encourage fun anticipation waiting for it to pop! If you put a couple of toys or cards on you can see who can catch one and they can tell you what the toy/letter/word is that they caught. If a child hasn’t seen one before you may need to demonstrate the toy as they often want to grab disc while it is flat and do not realise it will pop up.Main themes – waiting, changing shapes, motor skills (catching & throwing action words)


Observe what they do with the toy when first given to them and before you start to play. It may not be obvious how “to play with them” at first. Do they notice they attach? Do they look at why it attached? 

What do they spontaneously “say” when they play with the toy? Do they have a “word” or way of describing how the ball changes (a surprised face, a wow, ooooh, look!, pop, ball now, flat now.

Do they think it’s funny or a bit scary when it pops?

Do they inspect it to try to see how it works?

Do they try different things with it? (sit on it, roll it like a wheel, try to bounce it, throw it up or forward)Can they push it hard enough to work or do they look puzzled if they don’t push it hard enough and it stays as a ball?

communicating with others

Communication: how the themes/ ideas of the toy encourages or give opportunities to practise social interactions

*Do they want you to look at the ball changing?

*Do they ask questions about how it works or ask for help? (hand it to you to make it pop again or uses words to ask for help)

*Do they communicate the emotions the ball evokes? (surprise, scare, delighted, excited)

*Can they wait patiently for the ball to pop or do they want to grab at it? This is a great game to encourage attention, waiting and turn taking skills. These are all skills we need to use when having a “conversation” with someone.

understanding of lanuage comes before talking

Understanding skills – words, sentences, ideas/themes/concepts, reading/literacy skills

Action words – suggest different things they can do with the ball and see if they change their actions accordingly eg push, roll, throw, kick, make it a wheel, waiting, tossing, releasing, changing

Similarities and differences of the ball as it changes (Does it change shape or colour?), it’s like a ball vs like a wheel

Gestures – do they show anticipation gestures – looking intently, jiggling or jumping as it gets more likely to pop, surprise gestures, pointing gestures to show they noticed the change or where it changed (eg pointing in the air)

Concepts: shapes flat vs round; time concepts: now, soon, later, nearly

Cognition: Count how long it takes to pop. Remember that number and see if the next one takes a longer or shorter time to pop.

Problem solving - Enocourages an understanding of “cause and effect” – if you push it goes flat, if you wait it pops; Can roll the ball easily because it is round but not so easy when it is flat.

Numbers: Time concepts and counting as wait for the ball to pop. See how many steps or how far it can roll before it pops.

spoken speech & language

Speech: saying sounds, exclamations, words, sentences, stories. Making gestures & facial expressions.

saying sounds

Pop, boom, wee, (as the Phlat ball pops up)

Speech Clarity

/p/ is an early developing sound and so words like “pop” are great first words to encourage. Encourage them to look at how your lips are squeezed together as you are “busting” to say “pop” as you are waiting for the ball to pop. /p/ is said with a build of air pressure behind the lips and so “holding” it back before popping out the /p/ sound encourages this sound pressure. Simliarly you can use a phrase “pop up” to encourage more /p/ sounds. Also early words like “go” are great as lots of children under three will say a /d/ for a /g/ sound – “go” -> “do”… You can model or practise the /g/ sound by repeating the/g/ sound as you are anticipating the ball to pop: “g,g,g,g,g,g,…GO”;

Saying words

Names of the things: ball, Frisbee, button

Names of action words: see above (rolling, tossing, flicking, exploding, changing, waiting)

Describing words: hard, flat, not bouncy, round, colours,

Other words: now, soon, going to, nearly, yet

  • Saying Sentences: Encourage them to repeat sentences at a length that matches their ability after you say it – after a few times of reading the book can they say the words and sentences by themselves?
  • By choosing words with different endings will help build spoken grammatical words eg popping, flatter, edges (word endings –ing, -er, plural ‘s’). These can then be put into sentences: rolling the ball (action word + a thing)The ball IS flat, The ball IS NOT popping (important little words – “is; pronouns – “he”)The ball popped in the air. The ball IS taking a long time. (encouraging longer sentences by adding a thing or a place)Sentences like "If I push it hard, it will take a long time", "It won’t roll because it is flat" helps develop the use of joining words ( e.g, “and”, “because”, “so”, If)
  • Saying more: Explain why they think it stays flat. Explain why it takes sometimes a long time and sometimes a short time to pop. Predict what might happen if we put something on top of the flat ball. What might happen if we put our fingers in the spaces when it is flat? What things are round and what things are flat.

Toy Teaching & Talking Tips Downloads 


Teaching & Talking Tips: Toys


 An Educational Teaching & Talking Tips PDF  jam packed full of ideas to help boost speech, language and literacy skills while playing with a Phlat Ball.  


 An Educational Teaching & Talking Tips PDF  jam packed full of ideas to help boost speech, language and literacy skills while building with a Magnetic Construction Kit.

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Sandra McMahon

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