Search

Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something

Tag

Expressive Language

Talk to Me Baby – Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Love to Play Puppy

Hey! I only went a month this time!

For those who are new to following this and simply because it has been so long, I’m creating a series of posts on popular baby/toddler toys and how you can use them to facilitate Speech and Language Development. My original post can be seen here

As with the last toys, an intro:

Receptive Language (what we understand) – this is the ability to listen and understand what is communicated by another person. In the Early Intervention age range (birth to 3) some examples would include: following simple directions, the ability to identify objects from a group, the ability to point to objects in pictures etc. In infants an example can be as simple as turning to the source of sound or responding to his/her name.

Expressive Language (the use of language) – this is the ability to communicate wants and needs. Usually we mean verbally but depending on the circumstances it can mean sign language or the use of a communication device. Some examples of this include: the ability to request objects using words, the ability to name objects (real objects or in pictures). In infants this includes grunting, cooing and babbling – all which sounds meaningless at first but are important stepping stones to using words in more functional ways.

Social Skills/Pragmatic Language – these are the more subtle aspects of language and in young children some examples include eye contact, joint attention (the ability to look at a toy, then to you, then back to the toy etc) and turn taking.

Of course these lists are nowhere near all inclusive and are simply meant to help clarify the definitions.

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Love to Play Puppy

With some toy lettuce courtesy of Miles
With some toy lettuce courtesy of Miles

I believe this was a hand me down, but I’ve used it for Speech Therapy before.

Age Range: 6 months – 3 years.

What it does: Controlled by an on/off button on the foot, the puppy has two modes:

1. Sing : When you press a body part it either sings a song or a popular rhyme (Patty Cake)

2. Learning Time : When you press a body part it labels either just the part itself or the part with the color.

At any time you can press the paw with the music note and it will sing a song. If you leave it without interacting with it for a few seconds, it will say something (peek a boo, I love you etc)

Likes:  I find it hard to target body parts in a fun way in therapy, so this works really well. The songs are mostly well known popular ones, and sometimes it asks for a hug, which I find pretty cute.

Dislikes:  The buttons are REALLY sensitive. Sometimes I’d make it dance along to a song and accidentally change the setting, or turn it off. There is a switch in the back you can use to prevent it from accidentally turning on when you bump into it, though. A couple of the songs get on my nerves.

Press my buttons
Press my buttons

6-12 months

Receptive Language

  • It never hurts to start exposing lots of language to kids early. Identify the body parts, encourage appropriate play (help her press the buttons), tell him its a dog etc
  • Play for awhile and then hide the puppy and see if she demonstrates object permanence (an understanding that the object still exists even when its out of sight)
  • Clap when a song is done and help your child clap
  • Turn the puppy on/off and help your child wave and say hi/bye
  • Press a button or activate the toy somehow. Wait and see if your baby “anticipates” that you will press the button again.While your baby is playing, call his or her name and see if he/she stops playing to look at you

Expressive Language

  • Sing along with the songs and encourage him to babble along.
  • Babies this age usually aren’t saying words yet but you can use the toy to encourage some babbling. They should start to have some simple cause and effect and the ability to imitate some so you can use that to your advantage.  Any of the early developing sounds work, which include /b/, /d/, /m/, /n/, /p/. Sing along with the songs and encourage him to babble along.
  • You can start to introduce baby sign. It isn’t likely they will use it yet but as stated above, exposure is never going to hurt. You can take your baby’s hands and give hand over hand cues to sign for “more” or “dog” or “song”
  • Again, you can use this for lots of language exposure – be very verbal during play and describe the body parts, colors, verbs etc.

12-18 months

Receptive Language

  • Appropriate play: does your baby press the buttons to activate the toy? Will he/she try to dance or sing along (even if just bouncing or babbling)
  • Simple one step directions: If she is familiar with body parts already you can ask her to “push the hand”. You can also try “give the dog a hug/kiss”. Put the dog up but in reach and ask her to go  get it. Put some shoes within reach and ask her to give the doggie the shoes.
  • While baby plays say “stop” and “wait” and see if baby responds (not necessarily listens, but at least responds)
  • Begin identification of body parts.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage imitation: You can try to imitate the body parts, colors, or the word more, song, play, hug…the possibilities are (almost) endless.
  • Encourage independent word use – point to the eye and ask “what is this?”. You may not get much at this age but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask.

Social Skills

  • Have the dog wave at your child/say hi and see if she waves or says hi back.
  • Talk to her about the body parts or colors. Pretend the dog is having a conversation with him. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if he responds. Responses don’t have to be real words and don’t have to make sense – you are just looking for the social aspect or the start of back and forth conversation

18-24 months

Receptive Language

  • Body part identification: ask him to push the foot. The cool thing is the toy will interact when a button is pressed so it is somewhat of a built in reward. If your child chooses the wrong one, simple say “that’s an eye” and then show him the foot.
  • If you have some play clothes get the dog dressed and ask your child to point to the shirt or shoes.
  • Simple verbs: Turn on a song and ask your child to dance with it. You can set up a tea party and ask her to feed it, give it a drink, put it to sleep, clap, sing etc.
  • Simple direction following with and without help – you can try without first, and if he doesn’t seem to understand you can provide help (see 12-18 months). You can use clothes for this too – “give doggie the socks”.
  • Introduce colors.

Expressive Language

  • Put two words together. You can pair things like “ dog on “(turn the dog on), “song please”, “green hand”
  • Encourage independent word use: see above.
  • Begin practicing verb use (and 2 word combinations). See above.
  • Label body parts.
  • Encourage him to sing along to the songs or rhymes.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, comment on what he/she is doing or play along to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Begin to encourage turn taking. Press a button and then say “your turn!”
  • Talk to her about the dog. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. Even if you say “doggie says woof” and he looks at you and responds “woof doggie”, you are still practicing  social skills.

24 to 36 months

Receptive Language

  • Following directions without help. (see above)
  • Simple verbs like the ones described in 18-24 months. You can use these with your direction following.
  • Color identification.
  • Pronouns me, my, you, your. Touch the doggies nose and say “doggies nose” – where is YOUR/MY nose?
  • Begin spatial concepts such as in/out/on/off. Ask him to put the doggie ON/OFF the bed or IN/OUT of the box. If you have some play clothes you can throw them into the mix and ask him to “put doggies shirt on” or “take doggies socks off”.
  • You can use some simple adjectives such as soft, loud (using the volume control), squishy, hard, etc.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage further expansion of sentences from 1-2 words to 2-3 or more words. Some examples include “turn doggie on”, “want song please”. You can use these when requesting as well: “mommy dog please” “more song please” “want dog in” etc. Or try to throw some colors in: “want blue ear”.
  • Yes/no questions. Ask “is this a foot?”
  • Continue with verb use – “clap hands” “press button” etc.
  • Encourage verb use. Make the dog clap/dance/sing and ask “what is she doing”

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, throw some balls out and exclaim “uh oh!” to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Continue to practice turn taking.
  • Talk to her about the body parts/colors/dog. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. You could try some simple “wh” questions as well such as “what does a doggie say?”

Keep in mind that many of the ideas for older toddlers can be introduced earlier. For example, it never hurts to introduce spatial concepts (in/out), adjectives (rough, smooth) or verbs earlier. You aren’t likely to come across a 12 month old who will say or even point to something smooth, but he is always learning and more exposure is never a bad thing. You can also engage a preschooler by asking him to help his sibling by asking questions (where is the eye?)

You can purchase this toy on Amazon. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Love to Play Puppy (this is about the best price I’ve found).*

As always, requests are welcomed (and encouraged!) if you have a toy your child loves and you’d like some ideas on how to make it more functional for speech development. And please remember this is not meant to be an all encompassing list, just something you can use to help.

In case you missed the first three posts of this series:

Talk to Me Baby: The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza

Talk to me Baby: Puppy and Friends Learning Table

Talk to Me Baby: Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Activity Puzzle.

Talk to Me Baby: The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Ball Pit

*This post does contain an affiliate link. Typically though, Amazon has the best prices and I do a lot of shopping on there anyway. If you buy one through my link I’ll earn a few cents. Nothing big.

Talk to Me Baby: The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Ball Pit

If I thought three months was bad before, now its been FOUR.

For those who are new to following this and simply because it has been so long, I’m creating a series of posts on popular baby/toddler toys and how you can use them to facilitate Speech and Language Development. My original post can be seen here

As with the last toys, an intro:

Receptive Language (what we understand) – this is the ability to listen and understand what is communicated by another person. In the Early Intervention age range (birth to 3) some examples would include: following simple directions, the ability to identify objects from a group, the ability to point to objects in pictures etc. In infants an example can be as simple as turning to the source of sound or responding to his/her name.

Expressive Language (the use of language) – this is the ability to communicate wants and needs. Usually we mean verbally but depending on the circumstances it can mean sign language or the use of a communication device. Some examples of this include: the ability to request objects using words, the ability to name objects (real objects or in pictures). In infants this includes grunting, cooing and babbling – all which sounds meaningless at first but are important stepping stones to using words in more functional ways.

Social Skills/Pragmatic Language – these are the more subtle aspects of language and in young children some examples include eye contact, joint attention (the ability to look at a toy, then to you, then back to the toy etc) and turn taking.

Of course these lists are nowhere near all inclusive and are simply meant to help clarify the definitions.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Ball Pit

We received this toy as a belated birthday gift.

Age Range: 2 years plus. Let me just say right now that is baloney (bologna?). The twins were about 16 months old when we got it and they LOVE IT. I cannot stress how much they love this thing!

What it does: This one is pretty self explanatory. I mean, it’s a ball pit. It is a little different in that it has a big hole in the top, two big entryways on two sides and then an area where you can push balls in or out.

Likes: Um, everything. They love to climb in it, kick their feet, throw balls out the sides and through the holes (much to my dismay). Once, Miles watched an entire episode of Pocoyo in it.

I see better this way
I see better this way

Dislikes:  Two words: balls.everywhere. And it only comes with 20 balls.  Definitely invest in an extra bag of balls. For inflatable plastic, its a bit on the pricey side, depending on where you look.

Since I really think this toy could be enjoyable earlier than stated…..

12-18 months

Receptive Language

  • Appropriate play: does your baby pick up the balls and throw them? Will he push them through the holes? Put them in his mouth? (hey, that’s appropriate too)
  • Simple one step directions: There aren’t too many choices here as far as a “give me a ___” command, but you can ask her to give you a ball, push the ball through the hole, throw the ball etc, all with a gesture to help.
  • While baby plays say “stop” and “wait” and see if baby responds (not necessarily listens, but at least responds)
  • Begin identification of body parts using the balls. It sounds like a stretch but you can always take one and say “got your nose/ear/leg!” with it.
  • Object identification: have some simple objects lying around? (ball, shoe, spoon, etc). Throw them in the ball pit and ask your child to find one.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage imitation: If you’re like me and already feel like you say ball a bajilion times a day, be prepared to do it some more. Try to get your child to imitate ball, push, throw, go, anything that would be appropriate (or you could make appropriate). Play peek a boo or work on hi and bye.
  • Encourage independent word use: pick up a ball and ask “what is this?”. Again, choices are more limited here since it is a big pit of nothing but balls, but you can also encourage words like the ones listed above.

Social Skills

  • Poke your head through and say “hi!” and see if your child says hi back.
  • Talk to her about the balls or colors. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. Responses don’t have to be real words and don’t have to make sense – you are just looking for the social aspect or the start of back and forth conversation

18-24 months

Receptive Language

  • Picture identification: throw some puzzle pieces with basic pictures in and ask your child to find them.
  • Simple verbs: you may have to be a little more creative here but you can still do it. Roll, throw, kick, push would all be easy ones to use.
  • Simple direction following with and without help – you can try without first, and if he doesn’t seem to understand you can provide help (see 12-18 months).
  • Continue with identification of body parts – ask him to point to Mickey’s eyes or Pluto’s nose.

Expressive Language

  • Put two words together. You can pair things like “ ball in” or “throw/kick/roll ball”. You can also begin to label colors, like “red ball”.
  • Encourage independent word use: see above.
  • Begin practicing verb use (and 2 word combinations). See above.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, comment on what he/she is doing or play along to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Begin to encourage turn taking. Push a ball out of a hole and say “your turn!”
  • Talk to her about the ball. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. Even if you say “Look at this pretty red ball” and he looks at you and responds “ball”, you are still practicing  social skills.

24 to 36 months

Receptive Language

  • Following directions without help. (see above)
  • Simple verbs like the ones described in 18-24 months. You can use these with your direction following
  • Begin color identification. With the multicolored balls this one is easy!
  • Pronouns me, my, you, your. Get a couple of cups/bowls and ask your child to put a ball in “my” or “your” bowl. Take the ball and touch “your” or “my” nose.
  • Begin spatial concepts such as in/out. You’ll probably get more out than in, though 🙂
  • You can use some simple adjectives such as smooth, squishy, shiny, soft.

Expressive Language

  • Encourage further expansion of sentences from 1-2 words to 2-3 or more words. Some examples include “ball go in”, “want ball please”. You can use these when requesting as well: “want house please” “more puzzle please” “want frog in” etc. Or try to throw some colors in: “want blue ball”.
  • Yes/no questions. Ask “do you want a ball?”
  • Continue with verb use – “roll ball” “kick ball” etc.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, throw some balls out and exclaim “uh oh!” to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Continue to practice turn taking.
  • Talk to her about the balls/colors. Pause like you would in a conversation and see if she responds. It doesn’t have to be sentences. Even if you say “Look at this pretty red ball” and he looks at you and responds “red ball”, you are still practicing  social skills. At this age though we like to see responses of at least 2-3 words.

Keep in mind that many of the ideas for older toddlers can be introduced earlier. For example, it never hurts to introduce spatial concepts (in/out), adjectives (rough, smooth) or verbs earlier. You aren’t likely to come across a 12 month old who will say or even point to something smooth, but he is always learning and more exposure is never a bad thing. You can also engage a preschooler by making a game of hide and seek, for example. Have him/her find objects mixed in the balls and ask him/her what you do with it. Or work on identifying colors, using adjectives, etc.

You can purchase this toy on Amazon. (this is about the best price I’ve found). Disney Mickey Having a Ball with 20 Balls.*

As always, requests are welcomed (and encouraged!) if you have a toy your child loves and you’d like some ideas on how to make it more functional for speech development. And please remember this is not meant to be an all encompassing list, just something you can use to help.

In case you missed the first three posts of this series:

Talk to Me Baby: The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza

Talk to me Baby: Puppy and Friends Learning Table

Talk to Me Baby: Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Activity Puzzle.

*This post does contain an affiliate link. Typically though, Amazon has the best prices and I do a lot of shopping on there anyway. If you buy one through my link I’ll earn a few cents. Nothing big.

Talk To Me Baby – Puppy and Friends Learning Table

More time went by between these posts than I intended, but hey, life happens.

To recap/remind:

Receptive Language (what we understand) – this is the ability to listen and understand what is communicated by another person. In the Early Intervention age range (birth to 3) some examples would include: following simple directions, the ability to identify objects from a group, the ability to point to objects in pictures etc. In infants an example can be as simple as turning to the source of sound or responding to his/her name.

Expressive Language (the use of language) – this is the ability to communicate wants and needs. Usually we mean verbally but depending on the circumstances it can mean sign language or the use of a communication device. Some examples of this include: the ability to request objects using words, the ability to name objects (real objects or in pictures). In infants this includes grunting, cooing and babbling – all which sounds meaningless at first but are important stepping stones to using words in more functional ways.

Social Skills/Pragmatic Language – these are the more subtle aspects of language and in young children some examples include eye contact, joint attention (the ability to look at a toy, then to you, then back to the toy etc) and turn taking.

Of course these lists are nowhere near all inclusive and are simply meant to help clarify the definitions.

Fisher Price Puppy and Friends Learning Table

This was another toy I requested for Christmas mostly so they would have a fun way to practice standing and possibly cruising.

Age Range: 6 months – 2 years

What it does: There are 4 “stations” at this table: a computer, a piano, a book and a phone. Each interacts in a different way depending on the setting. The first setting is “English”. This setting is more educational and does things like label the colors on the piano, the objects in the book and the letters in the computer. The second is “Spanish”, which is the same as English, only in Spanish. The third is “music”. Here you get a snippet of a classical song on the piano or computer with a couple of full blown songs on the phone. In then book you get examples of the noise each object makes. The fourth is “play”, where each item is presented more functionally, i.e. the keys on the piano play a note, the computer makes computer like sounds, the book pages flip and the phone dials. Oh, and then of course there is “off”, for when you’ve had enough of hearing the book flip of the 8 millionth time. 🙂

It also comes with 4 legs, which are removable. I like this feature because it gives the babies the opportunity to play with it while sitting or standing. They really seemed to enjoy this from the earliest age given (6 months), and I have no doubt they will continue to enjoy it for awhile. I find the songs to be entertaining enough. On a scale from 1-5 (1 being least annoying and 5 most) I’d say I’d give this an “if I hear this song one more time I will scream” rating of 2.5 – depending on my mood.

Likes: the different settings, catchy music, lights, labels things (colors, object) in learning mode.

Dislikes: the legs are wobbly and lightweight so if baby is at ALL unsteady while standing its likely the table will slide.

The table :)
The table – missing the phone that I assume is under a couch somewhere

6 months – 1 year

Receptive Language

  • Begin teaching object identification- book, phone, or any of the objects located within the book
  • Press a button or activate the toy somehow. Wait and see if your baby “anticipates” that you will press the button again.
  • While your baby is playing, call his or her name and see if he/she stops playing to look at you
  • You can use this for lots of language exposure – be very verbal during play and describe things. Your baby is always listening. Tell him/her the colors or objects. Pick up the phone and say “hello”. Label the shapes, etc.

Expressive Language

  • Babies this age usually aren’t saying words yet but you can use the toy to encourage some babbling. They should start to have some simple cause and effect and the ability to imitate some so you can use that to your advantage. “Talk” on the phone in babble and see if your baby will “respond”. Play the piano and say “mi (me) mi mi”, push the computer keys and say “pa pa pa (push)”. Any of the early developing sounds work too, which include /b/, /d/, /m/, /n/, /p/.
  • You can start to introduce baby sign. It isn’t likely they will use it yet but as stated above, exposure is never going to hurt. You can take your baby’s hands and give hand over hand cues to sign for “book”, or ” play”. You can also activate the toy and then cue baby to ask for “more”.
  • If baby is beginning to pull up but still hasn’t mastered it yet, you can use this opportunity to introduce the word “up” as you help him/her stand up, and “down” when he/she wants to sit back down.
  • Again, you can use this for lots of language exposure – be very verbal during play and describe things. Your baby is always listening. Tell him/her the colors or objects. Pick up the phone and say “hello”. Label the shapes, etc.

12-18 months

Receptive Language

  • Object identification: ask your baby where the book or phone is and see if he/she will reach for that part of the table.
  • Appropriate play: does your baby flip the book pages, open/close the computer lid, pretend to dial the phone?
  • Simple one step directions: point to a button and see if he/she will push it. Gesture to the book or computer and ask baby to turn the page or open the lid.
  • While baby plays say “stop” and “wait” and see if baby responds (not necessarily listens, but at least responds)

Expressive Language

  • Encourage imitation: you can label any object/shape/color to encourage this. Baby doesn’t have to say the whole word correctly – “ba” for ball or “ca” or even “da” for car is ok at this age. Pick up the phone and say “hello” and hand baby the phone while prompting “say hello”. Turn the toy off and encourage imitation of “on”, “more” or “please”.
  • Encourage independent word use: point to the book and ask “what is this?” You can also do this with the objects in the book. Pick up the phone and say “hello” and then hand baby the phone – wait and see if baby will say hello. Turn the toy off and see if baby will ask for “on”, “more”, “please”, etc.

Social Skills

  • See if baby will hand you the phone or use some other method to initiate interaction with you. You can practice this by picking up the phone, having a “conversation” and handing it to him or her.

18-24 months

Receptive Language

  • Picture identification: ask baby to point to any of the objects in the 4 pages of the book that you name.
  • Simple verbs: push, dance, open, play. Demonstrate as needed and then after awhile see if baby can demonstrate on his/her own.
  • Simple direction following (with and without help).

Expressive Language

  • Put two words together. You can pair things like “open book”, “go up” (mouse or computer lid), “more ___”, “____ please”, “push button”, “red circle”, “on please” etc. You can use this for labeling or requesting.
  • Encourage independent word use: point to the book and ask “what is this?” You can also do this with the objects in the book. Pick up the phone and say “hello” and then hand baby the phone – wait and see if baby will say hello. Turn the toy off and see if baby will ask for “on”, “more”, “please”, etc.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, comment on what he/she is doing or play along to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Begin to encourage turn taking. Press a button and tell baby “your turn” . Wait and see if he/she will push a bottom in response.

Although the toys’ recommended age range is 6 months – 2 years, it seems to me that there are many opportunities to use it over the age of 2. Perhaps your 2-3 year old isn’t as interested as he/she once was, but particularly if you have a toddler and infant you can engage your toddler to play as well by doing some of the following:

  • ID common verbs: use the book to ask your toddler “who is playing/throwing etc”?
  • ID/name colors
  • ID/name shapes
  • Simple two step directions (related) such as “open the computer and push a button” or “pick up the phone and call grandma”
  • Name some simple verbs such as play, spin, read, push
  • Answer yes/no questions such as “is this a monkey?, is this red?” etc. Ensure he/she is familiar with the objects you are asking about. You can prompt them to respond yes or no at first.

If you’re interested in purchasing it, you can find it on Amazon. Fisher-Price Puppy and Friends Learning Table.

And if you missed the first post on my so far all time favorite, the Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza, you can find the post here.

Questions or toy suggestions welcome!

Talk to Me Baby – The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza

Here is how I plan to organize these posts:

Each will have a brief description of the types of language we as Speech Therapists often evaluate: Receptive Language, Expressive Language and Pragmatics, or the social aspect of language. Following that I’ll include a toy description. Finally, its onto the good stuff:  a few ideas (not meant to be all encompassing, because that would honestly take me hours), on how you can use said toy to stimulate language. Pictures will be included as well.

So here we go:

Receptive Language (what we understand) – this is the ability to listen and understand what is communicated by another person. In the Early Intervention age range (birth to 3) some examples would include: following simple directions, the ability to identify objects from a group, the ability to point to objects in pictures etc. In infants an example can be as simple as turning to the source of sound or responding to his/her name.

Expressive Language (the use of language) – this is the ability to communicate wants and needs. Usually we mean verbally but depending on the circumstances it can mean sign language or the use of a communication device. Some examples of this include: the ability to request objects using words, the ability to name objects (real objects or in pictures). In infants this includes grunting, cooing and babbling – all which sounds meaningless at first but are important stepping stones to using words in more functional ways.

Social Skills/Pragmatic Language – these are the more subtle aspects of language and in young children some examples include eye contact, joint attention (the ability to look at a toy, then to you, then back to the toy etc) and turn taking.

Of course these lists are nowhere near all inclusive and are simply meant to help clarify the definitions.

The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza

I put in my own requests for the babies’ presents this Christmas, one of which was the Fisher Price Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza. It sounds like a mouthful because it is, but the toy itself is awesome and one I picked out specifically because of all the ways it could be used to facilitate speech and language.

Age Range: 6 months to 3 years

What it does: I think of it as kind of a ball maze. It comes with 3 levels of ramps so your child is able to interact with it while sitting, crawling or standing and has several “trigger points”. A standing child can send a ball through the chute at the top where it will bounce off of a “trampoline” and down the ramp or a ball can be placed into the top ramp. He/she can also interact with an inflatable ball attached to the top. A crawler can place a ball into the middle ramp or crawl through one of two areas which are also “trigger points”. A sitter can access the lowest ramp level or spin the bottom “trigger point”. When a “trigger point” is activated, the toy lights up, plays a short intro and then a song. There are several different songs (I have not counted but I’d say at least 6) and the best part about them, in my opinion, is that they are not annoying! The songs are lyric-less and more like techno or dance music, which I appreciate after listening to the alphabet song ad nauseum.

As far as age range goes, the babies were 7 months when we got this so basically at the bottom of the range. They do enjoy it but I think will much more so as they start to stand and walk.

Pictured here you can see the inflatable ball, one of two crawl throughs and the spinner "trigger point" at the bottom as well as all three ramp levels
Pictured here you can see the inflatable ball, one of two crawl throughs and the spinner “trigger point” at the bottom as well as all three ramp levels

6 months to 1 year

Receptive Language

  • Give your baby two balls and encourage him/her to bang them together, against the ramp or really any surface of the toy
  • Hide the balls and see if he/she looks for them
  • Begin teaching object identification: give your baby a ball and tell him/her “ball”.
  • You really can’t go wrong here- language exposure is never going to be a bad thing. Babies are always listening and hear what you say. Even if they don’t understand it yet, they will. Be very verbal while playing with him/her – tell your baby what you are doing, or place a ball down a ramp and say “go” or “weeee”. Hit the inflatable ball and say “boom”. Label the ball colors or ramp colors.

Expressive Language

  • Babies this age usually aren’t saying words yet but you can use the toy to encourage some babbling. They should start to have some simple cause and effect and the ability to imitate some so you can use that to your advantage. Take a ball and babble to your baby (I usually pair the babble with the real word also) “babababa – ball” and then roll the ball down a ramp to activate it. Try a few times and see if your baby will attempt to imitate you. If he/she does, praise him/her and run a ball down a ramp. Babble doesn’t have to be limited to bababa – any of the early developing sounds work too, which include /b/, /d/, /m/, /n/, /p/.
  • You can start to introduce baby sign. It isn’t likely they will use it yet but as stated above, exposure is never going to hurt. You can take your baby’s hands and give hand over hand cues to sign for “more” or “ball” and then either run a ball down a ramp or hand a ball to him/her.
  • Again, you can’t really go wrong here. Babies are always listening and hear what you say. Even if they don’t understand it yet, they will. Be very verbal while playing with him/her – tell your baby what you are doing, or place a ball down a ramp and say “go” or “weeee”. Hit the inflatable ball and say “boom”. Label the ball colors or ramp colors.
Here you can see the chute and "trampoline"
Here you can see the chute and “trampoline”

12 to 18 months

Receptive Language

  • Appropriate play with toys – show your baby how to, for example, crawl through the door, pick up the ball from the bottom ramp, place a ball onto a ramp, spin the spinner
  • Practice simple object identification. Take a ball and a nearby toy or common object (spoon, book, train, car) and ask your baby to “get the ___” .
  • Simple one step directions (with help). If your baby is holding a ball, point to/touch a ramp and encourage him/her to place it there. Or, point to/touch a nearby ball and ask him/her to grab it. You can also encourage your baby to stand and smack the inflatable ball or walk/crawl through the little door.

Expressive Language 

  • Encourage imitation by labeling/explaining as you go. Hold up a ball and say “ball”. Place the ball down the ramp and say “weeee” “go” or “down”. Smack the inflatable ball and say “boom”. Lots of praise for anything imitated. Use the little door and say “open” and “close”. Drop a ball and say “uh oh!”
  • Encourage independent word use. Hold up a ball and ask “what is this?”. Practice simple fill in by doing 1…2…3…go! and eventually letting baby fill in the word “go”. When baby wants to crawl through the door practice imitation of “open” and then eventually wait to see if he or she will use the word alone. You can also use ball go…”down”!
Pretty cool isn't it?
Pretty cool isn’t it?

18 to 24 months

Receptive Language

  • Simple verbs such as dance, throw, roll, bounce. Demonstrate as needed  and after some practice see if your baby can demonstrate on his/her own.
  • Simple object identification. Take a ball and a nearby toy or common object (spoon, book, train, car) and ask your baby to “get the ___” .
  • Simple one step directions (with help). If your baby is holding a ball, point to/touch a ramp and encourage him/her to place it there. Or, point to/touch a nearby ball and ask him/her to grab it. You can also encourage your baby to stand and smack the inflatable ball or walk/crawl through the little door.

Expressive Language

  • Putting two words together – you can pair things like “go ball”, “ball down”, “open door”, “throw ball” etc. You can also encourage this when requesting by using “ball please” or “more ball”

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, exclaim “wee” or “go” etc to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Begin to encourage turn taking. Roll a ball down ramp and hand baby one for “his turn”. Wait and see if he/she hands you a ball or otherwise shows you he wants you to make it go.

24 to 36 months

Receptive Language

  • Following directions (without pointing or touching). Ask him/her to “hit the (inflatable) ball”, get the ball, put the ball down the ramp, spin the spinner, crawl/ walk through etc.
  • Simple verbs such as dance, throw, roll bounce. These can also be used as part of your direction following.
  • Begin color identification.
  • Pronouns me, my, you, your. While both of you are holding a ball, ask him/her to point to my/your ball, or take my/your ball and run it down the ramp. (Be sure you use “my/your” and not “mommy’s” for example)

Expressive Language

  • Encourage further expansion of sentences from 1-2 words to 2-3 or more words. Some examples include “red ball go”, “ball go down”, “open door please”. You can use these when requesting as well: “want ball please” “more ball please” “want ball down” etc.
  • Yes/no questions. Ask “should I roll the ball down this ramp?” “Do you want this ball?” “Do you want the red ball?”

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, exclaim “wee” or “go” etc to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Continue to practice turn taking.

If you’re interested in purchasing one, you can find it on Amazon. Fisher-Price Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza

I realize I used a not necessarily well known toy for this first post however I liked it so much I had to start here. I’m also happy to take requests. If you liked this post please pass it on!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: