ABCs 4 SLPs: B is for Bubbles/Blowing - Bubble and Blowing (Airflow) Activities for Speech-Language Therapy
Oral motor exercises are a controversial topic in the SLP field. This post may be about bubbles, but I will not be discussing the topic of oral motor exercises and the use of bubbles or blowing activities for oral motor. I would like to discuss how bubble/airflow activities can be used as a motivator, in articulation, and more in speech-language therapy. I will also share some fun bubble/airflow activities and crafts that I found on Pinterest!
First, I am going to start with how bubbles can be used in therapy or at home with your kids.
Early Articulation (Speech Sound) Skills - For children working on the early developing sounds /p/, /b/, and /m/, playing with bubbles is the perfect activity. The word "bubbles" has the /b/ sound in the initial and medial position of the word. If the child is working on /b/ at the syllable level, encourage production of "buh" or "buh-buh". "Pop" has the /p/ sound in both the initial and final position of the word, and you can get many productions of the word each time the child goes to pop a bubble. If the child has difficulty with final consonants, encourage production of "p" or "pah". Finally, the word "more" has the /m/ sound in the initial position of the word. Have children ask for "more" bubbles by stating the word or an approximation of "mmmmm" or "mo".
Motivation/Requesting Action - Bubbles are great motivators for young children, especially in the summer. Work on having children request more bubbles by using the sign for "more" or "bubbles" or "open", stating the word "more" or "bubbles", using a gesture, or pointing to a picture/word for more or bubbles. Blow some bubbles, allow the child to pop the bubbles and have fun with them, place the cap on top of the bubbles, and wait. Then, encourage the child to request more bubbles. Make sure to teach and prompt the child to request more before you expect them to do so on their own.
Receptive Language/Vocabulary/Concepts - Bubbles move out from the wand and float up, down, left, and right in the air. This is great for teaching children about spatial concepts. In addition, some bubbles come out big and others small, so be sure to compare bubble sizes. Finally, you can discuss the quantity of bubbles that appear when blown including one, two, some, a lot, the most, etc.
Attention/Eye Contact - If you are working on joint attention skills, especially in a group, blow bubbles and watch the child's eyes/fingers to see if they are following the bubbles. The child might follow the bubbles around the room, talk about the bubbles, or make vocalizations when the bubbles pop. If the child is having difficulty tracking the bubbles or participating in the activity, stand next to them and point to the bubbles/talk about the bubbles/tell the child to look at the bubbles. You can even take the young child's hand and help them track the bubbles with their pointer finger. When working on eye contact, blow some bubbles and then wait for the child to make eye contact with you. This can be a request for more bubbles. Once the child looks up at you, blow some more bubbles.
Airflow/Breath Support/Air Control - Blowing bubbles can work on breathing skills for those who have difficulty getting enough air to speak on. Practice various breathing techniques prior to blowing the bubbles such as abdominal breathing. Have the child/adult take a deep breath and blow different streams of air. Have them blow fast, slow/prolonged, with an open mouth, with a wide mouth, etc. to see how he or she can manipulate the airflow or how long he or she can maintain airflow to make bubbles.
Other Articles About Using Bubbles in Therapy:
- Bubbles to Improve Language Development? by: Mommy Speech Therapy
- Bubbles as a Therapy Tool! by: Speech Therapy Ideas
Bubble Activities (Some From Other Websites/Pinterest):
- Kazoo as a Bubble Machine (Real Simple) - dip one end into soapy water and blow into it. Great activity to promote breath support and the amount of air needed to continue airflow to create the bubbles.
- Water Bottle Bubble Fun (Projects for Preschoolers) - cut open the whole end or part of the end of a water bottle and blow bubbles through the other end. You can decorate the outside of the bottles and use different sizes of bottles as well!
(Image from Projects for Preschoolers - http://www.projectsforpreschoolers.com/water-bottle-bubble-fun/)
Blowing/airflow-related activities are the next ones that I want to discuss. Once again, I am not going to discuss oral-motor.
Early Articulation (Speech Sound) Skills - The early developing sounds /b/, /p/, /w/, /k/, and /m/ can be used in activities involving blowing. The word "blow" has the /b/ sound at the beginning of the word and the /w/ sound at the end. If the child is working on /b/ at the syllable level, encourage production of "buh" or "buh-buh". The /k/ sound can be used in the phrase "keep blowing" at the beginning of the word "keep". The /p/ sound can be found at the end of the word "keep" and also in the word "pop" if the blowing/airflow activity involves a bubble, balloon, or paint popping. Once again, the word "more" has the /m/ sound in the initial position of the word. Have children ask for "more" bubbles by stating the word or an approximation of "mmmmm" or "mo".
Motivation/Requesting Action - Encouraging teammates to "keep blowing" or "take a deep breath" gets students to motivate their teammates verbally to practice speech sounds, motivates the students to practice appropriate breath support, and requests the action of blowing.
Receptive Language/Vocabulary/Concepts - You can blow objects up, down, left, and right in the air, on the table, on the floor, etc. This is great for teaching children about spatial concepts.
Airflow/Breath Support/Air Control - Blowing/airflow activities can work on breathing skills for those who have difficulty getting enough air to speak on. Practice various breathing techniques prior to blowing the bubbles such as abdominal breathing. Have the child/adult take a deep breath and blow different streams of air. Have them blow fast, slow/prolonged, with an open mouth, with a wide mouth, etc. to see how he or she can manipulate the airflow or how long he or she can maintain airflow.
Blowing/Airflow Activities (Some From Other Websites/Pinterest):
- Cheap, Easy Craft: Painting With Straws by: Mommy With Selective Memory - put some paint on paper and have students blow the paint across the paper (of course make sure to tell them not to suck the paint through the straw!!)
- Sensory Game With Marshmallows by: Kids Creative Chaos - place mini-marshmallows in the middle of the table and have students try to suck them up with a straw and place them in their cup. See who gets the most.
- Fun Kid Activity: Lines of Colored Tape by: Hands On: As We Grow - use tape to create lines on the floor or table. Have students blow pom poms with straws (or just use their mouths) down each line. This can be used to practice breath support, breath control, and airflow. In addition, you can work on plosives to push the pom pom down the line little by little. Talk about the amount of air needed to speak a short sentence versus a long sentence.
- Incredible Indoor Games by: Disney Family Fun Magazine (Tabletop Soccer) - create a soccer arena out of an empty pizza box and have students on both sides trying to blow a pom pom/poof ball into the other player's goal across the table.
- Balloon Car by: marshall.edu - create a balloon car out of Legos and a balloon. Blow up the balloon, then let go and watch it fly! Great for working on abdominal breathing to get a deep breath before blowing into the balloon.
- Party Blower Painting by: Kids Activities Blog - squirt different colors of paint onto a paper plate. Then, have the student dip the party blower into the paint. Finally, make sure you have a large piece of paper (and probably something on the floor too) and let the student blow into the party blower towards the paper and watch it splatter! What a fun art project that you can work on prolonged airflow (if they want to smear a line of color), breath support, and abdominal breathing.
(Image from Kids Activities Blog - http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/things-paint-with-a-party-blower/)
What kinds of activities have you done in therapy that involve bubbles or blowing/airflow?