This is one of my go to toys for speech therapy with little ones. First off, I’m actually encouraging him to HIT something… hard! Yes, little ones GET to bang, bang, bang (with purpose!) That usually gets their attention. Then the ball rolls and bounces all the way down the various obstacles… just so that you can grab it at the bottom and do it all again – these are amazing toys for interaction and communication if used the right way!
There are many different versions of this toy and most come with a hammer or mallet. I tend to put those away until baby is older because 1) it may be too hard for little ones to pound the balls with the hammer and 2) that hammer has a magical way of banging someone in the face every time.
This is a great toy that does nothing and lets your little one do all the work. No batteries required!
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The basic idea is to put the balls in the matching circles on top and then bang them down. Now, let’s add some adult interaction and language play…
1) Babies may need some assistance as it requires some strength to push the balls through the top. That’s a great time to model “help?” and “PUUUSSSSHHH”.
2) A pencil bag is a great way to store the balls when not in use and it allows for practice with zipping skills “zzzzzzzzzip”. Model “more” and “open” as well.
3) When placing the ball on top, slide it slowly up the side of the tower and say “up” “up”… “top!”
4) Choose your exciting catch phrase for the big event and make sure you pause a second before you push the ball down…”ready, set…go” or “1..2….3” or “push the….ball”.
5) Slightly tip/elevate the bottom of the toy so that the balls DON’T just slide right out. “uh-oh!” Model how to call “baaaall” “OUT!” Your voice suddenly becomes the way to get the ball to appear (as you position the toy level again). This is a great way to teach that words/voices have power!
6) Try a basic imitation game by tapping two balls together then giving your baby the other two. Invite her to try it. If she does then tap on your knee, your nose, your foot, etc. “tap, tap, tap”
7) Wave to the baby in the mirror (the inside wall of the toy is reflective) “hi baby” then turn it around so the baby disappears! “uh-oh, where’s baby?” Then knock on the tower “knock, knock” (turn it around again) “there she is!”
Children like to hit the balls and watch them roll down the ramps, but the toy can be so much more!
Be sure to “like” and follow my Facebook page for all the latest play ideas and for information regarding my toddler play class “Let’s Play” as well as my parent workshop “Sounds to Sentences.”
Other posts you may like:
Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list!
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