Welcome to my new feature: Talking with Toys! Not only am I exploring a specific toy or type of toy and it’s use for helping little ones learn speech and language skills, but I will also be highlighting one of THE BEST toy stores right here in my hometown of Westerville, Ohio – Naturally Curious Kids!
First, let’s explore BALL TOWERS (for little ones) and then MARBLE TOWERS (for older little ones).
A ball tower that needs to be assembled is a great opportunity to wonder aloud how each piece should go. Model simple questions like “here?” “this way?” “next one?” “on top?” and then give yourself answers aloud like “no,” “yes,” “turn it” and “tada!” Using simple language allows your child to hear your thought process! After you’ve assembled it correctly a few times you can then ask those questions aloud while you intentionally put pieces in the wrong place and let your child tell you “no,” “yes,” “turn it,” and “tada!”
Storing the balls in a pencil bag that zips creates yet another opportunity for your child to try asking for “help” or “open” or use a “zzzzzzzip” sound.
To extend the assembly process even longer try placing the pieces around the room and then find them “yellow…where ARE you?” Not yet ready for colors? Just ask for “more”.
Once the ball tower is ready for its big moment, announce “READY, SET…” Allow that pause for your toddler to have an opportunity to complete “GO”. Watch the ball go “down, down, down” and “around, round, round”.
Like to sing? Take the tune of Wheels on the Bus:
“The ball in the tower goes down, down, down,
down, down, down
down, down, down
The ball in the tower goes down, down, down
All day long!”
Want to do it again? Ask whose turn it is to drop the ball. If you have more than one child who wants to play then assign duties for turn taking. One person is the “dropper” – drops the ball. One person is the “catcher” – catches it at the bottom. Someone else is the “announcer” – announces “ready, set, go”.
The marble tower is basically the ball tower for older kids (especially ones who won’t put a marble in their mouth). With an older child allow them to assemble it and even get some pieces turned the wrong way. That’s a great opportunity to problem solve and use language to figure out which piece needs to turn around. Instead of using 1-2 word phrases you may be talking about which color is needed next, how many pieces you might need, which ones are bigger, and how tall to make the tower. If forming longer sentences is a challenge for your preschooler then continue to use short phrases and only add one more word or concept to their idea. You can still keep the marbles in a bag or box that your preschooler may need help to open and you can still play a hide-n-seek type of game for assembling the tower. Turn taking may be even more important with your preschooler. If waiting for his turn is a challenge, give him a job to do when it isn’t his turn to drop the marble (just like in the ball tower description above).
For more ball tower-related ideas check out Playing with…pound-a-ball (for ball towers that don’t require assembly).
Ball tower-type toys are great for language and problem solving! They also (usually) don’t require batteries which is a huge plus for learning speech and language skills.
Where to find these toys and other amazing toys for encouraging language, pretend, problem-solving, fine motor, and social skills? Naturally Curious Kids.
This gem of a toy store is located in uptown Westerville, Ohio. It has two floors packed with high quality, well-made toys from brands like:
- Melissa & Doug
- Green Toys
- Fat Brain Toys
- Usborne Books
- and many, many more!
Whether you are looking for some new toys for your own kids or if you need a gift for an upcoming birthday or holiday, you really can’t go wrong with anything from Naturally Curious Kids.
Because I love this store so much, I was excited when the owners agreed to give my readers a DISCOUNT! (Disclosure: I’m going to give you a specific coupon code to use in order to get a discount. If you use it, I may receive a small percentage of that sale as a thank you from the retailer for promoting their store. I would also say thank you to YOU for supporting this blog.)
If you shop online at Naturally Curious Kids use coupon code: ToyTalk and you’ll receive 15% off of your TOTAL order!
If you shop in the store at 13 E. College Ave., Westerville, OH then you can get an even bigger discount of 20% off of your TOTAL order… after you comment on this post from my Facebook page and then show your comment to one of the owners (Linda or Jerilyn – wonderful ladies) at the register!
*These discounts are only applicable to regularly priced items and cannot be combined with any other discounts. Both are good through NOVEMBER 5, 2017.
If you find a toy that looks interesting, but you aren’t quite sure how to use it to help with speech and language play – just ask me. Always happy to help.