Don't throw out those old beach balls just yet.  They can become great speech and language materials.  All you need is an old beach ball and a permanent marker.  Don't have a beach ball laying around your house?  Now is a good time to find some on sale.  I've even found them at the dollar store!  

Use your permanent marker and write tasks on the ball.  Throw the ball to your client/student/child and wherever his/her thumb lands, that's the thing he/she has to complete.  This can be used for many different goals!  See below for some examples:
  • Articulation:  Write words that your child is working on.  You can even throw in some sounds that have already been mastered.  Is your child working in conversation?  Write different questions or topics to discuss so you can elicit that sound in conversation.
  • Language:  Working on past tense or future tense verbs?  Write the infinitive form of a verb (to cook, to wash, to bake) and have him/her tell you the correct verb form.  Working on describing?  Write down a bunch of items that your child would have to describe.  Working on naming items in a group?  Write down a bunch of groups (fruits, vehicles, animals, etc) and have your child name 3-5 in each group.  If you need some more ideas for what your child is working on specifically, just leave a comment or send me a message from the "contact me" section.
  • Pragmatics:  Write down different topics of discussion and have your child practice good conversational skills (eye contact, taking turns, remaining on topic, making appropriate transitions, etc).
  • Fluency:  Write down things to discuss and practice their "smooth" speech.
  • Listening Comprehension:  Write simple to more difficult instructions that would match your child's ability in listening comprehension.  Some variations could include: touch your shoe; get a pencil and put it on the desk; walk to the door and knock three times, find a blue crayon (if you have crayons out), etc.  If you have more than one person in the group, then have that person read what to do and have the child who is working on listening comprehension follow the instructions.  If it's just you, then have your student read the direction to you and have you do it.  Then when you catch the ball, read it to him/her and it's his/her turn to follow the direction.
  • Pre-talkers:  Encourage your little one to ask for his/her turn.  You can model the correct phrasing by saying "my turn" and picking up the ball.  Say "my turn" again (using auditory highlighting) and then place your hand under your little one's chin.  Wait for him/her to try to say something.  It may take a while until they understand the relationship between saying my turn and getting the ball.  You won't need to write anything on the ball, but it can be helpful to start the talking process.  You can also exhibit the following language from a ball (this is not an exhaustive list, just what comes to mind at this moment): ball, bounce, roll, throw, bye bye ball, my turn, mine, kick.  Remember to use auditory highlighting to emphasize the word(s) you want your little one to imitate. (see blog post from 
Here is an example of what I found at a garage sale (more of an ice breaker game), which gave me the idea for the beach ball!

Make sure to comment me or send me a message (contact me section) if you have a goal that has left you stumped!  I might be able to help brainstorm how you can adapt this activity for that particular goal.

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