At first glance, you may not think this toy would be all that helpful for learning to talk, but I’m telling you… it is! The same could be said for magnetic doodle boards, playdough, and empty boxes. If you’ve read any of my posts previously, you’ll know I’m generally a big fan of Toys That Do Nothing!
(Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means I may earn a small percentage of qualifying sales.)
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 responses 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”.
“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.
For more ball and marble tower toys:
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