This week's theme is ..... Bubbles
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Bubble Games To Explore
Bubbles are a fun, portable, mesmerising and a number one go-to toy for Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists alike! Bubbles are engaging, motivating and can be used to encourage all aspects of communication, social, fine motor and gross motor development.
Here are 21 bubble games which you can play to support your child’s early development today!
1. Hand/Eye Co-ordination and Fine Motor Skill Development
Bubble Pop: Practice popping the bubbles at your child’s skill level. You can pop the bubbles by waving your hands in the air, grabbing with your whole hand, using your index finger (pointer finger), clicking, flicking or pinching the bubbles! Use your imagination; you can even try catching the bubbles with a spoon!
If your child has difficulty popping floating bubbles, catch one on the bubble wand and then pop it.
2. Visual Tracking, Attention and Hand/Eye Co-ordination
Bubble Flashlight: Follow a bubble’s flight with a flashlight or a laser pen. To make it easier, just watch where the bubbles go together. Can you watch them until they pop?
3. Crossing the Midline
One-handed Bubble Pop: Encourage your child to pop the bubbles with one hand only. This will mean your child will have to reach across their body to pop the bubbles on the opposite side.
4. Using Both Hands Simultaneously
Two-handed Bubble Pop: Clap the bubbles to pop them, or pop them using both pointer fingers together!
5. Establishing a Dominant Hand and Helper Hand
Bubble Blowing: Get your child to use his/her helper hand to hold the bubble tube, and the dominant hand to dip the bubble wand or unscrew the cap. If your child has not yet established a dominant hand, you can practice swapping hands!
A handy trick to work out which hand your child is beginning to favour as a dominant hand, is to hold the bubble tube out towards the middle of your child’s chest. See which hand your child favours to reach out and take the bubbles with.
6. Fine Motor Development
Bubble Art: Mix a small amount of food colouring in the bubble liquid. Give your child a canvas or thick piece of paper to try and catch the bubbles on. Your child can draw a picture over the bubble art, scribble or practice writing their name for extra fine motor practice.
7. Breath Support and Calming
Bubble Blow: The physical act of blowing can be a very effective sensory-based way to help your child calm, organise and focus the body. How long can your child keep the bubbles in the air by blowing underneath them? Practice taking a deep breath and blowing bubbles into the air on the exhalation. Quietly watch the bubbles float away together.
8. Sensory Processing
Bubble Touch: Encourage your child to chase the bubbles while walking/crawling through different sensations. Try long grass, sand, rice, shaving foam, carpet, wet floor etc. Touching bubbles is also a sensory experience in itself!
9. Trunk Control, Core Stability and Balance
Bubble Balance: Have your child sit or stand on an uneven surface while trying to pop the bubbles. Your child could sit or stand on a pillow or sofa cushion, stand in a sand pit, sit on a gym ball or even stand on a wobble board!
10. Body Awareness and Gross Motor Skill Development
Bubble Dodge: Place some obstacle course equipment around the room (pillows, sofa cushions, balls, chairs, small tables, tunnel etc.) and blow the bubbles over and under them. Your child then needs to navigate the items to pop the bubbles!
11. Gross Motor Development
Bubble Stomp: Wait for the bubbles to land on the floor and then pop them! Depending on your child’s skill level kick them, crawl through them, stomp them, jump or hop on them or even wheelbarrow walk through them.
12. Balance and Gross Motor Skill Development
Bubble Freeze: Dance through the bubbles but remember to freeze when the music stops! Make the music pause longer to encourage your child to freeze for longer.
13. Personal Space and Body Awareness
Bubble Dancing: Put some music on and have a bubble dance party! Have a set space where the children can dance. A piece of carpet or a masking tape square on the floor works well. Try not to bump into each other!
14. Turn taking, Teamwork and Problem Solving
Bubble Hula Hoop: One child holds a hula-hoop in the air and the other child must blow the bubble through the circle! Both children must work together to score a goal! You can make this game more difficult by playing on a windy day or with a fan in the room.
15. Sharing and Turn taking
Bubble Share: Provide one bubble blower between children. Stay present to help your child navigate the rules of sharing and taking turns.
16. Comprehension Development
Bubble Search: Hide the bubble blower around the house. Give your child clues to find it by describing the function of the object it is in or next to. For example ‘It is in something that keeps our food cold’ or ‘it’s where you sleep!’
17. Learning Pronouns and People’s Names
Bubble Tag: Who can you blow a bubble to? You get extra points for popping the bubble on them! To Dad or Mum? To me or you? Is it your turn or my turn? Is it her turn or his turn?
18. Communicating by Requesting an Action/Item or Asking for Help
Bubble Ask: Bubbles is a perfect toy to encourage your child to request or ask for help. Try any of the following tricks to encourage communication.
1. Blow some bubbles, put the lid back on and WAIT.
2. Put the bubble blower in sight but out of reach (i.e. up on the kitchen bench).
3. Put the lid on very tightly and then hand the bubble blower to your child. WAIT.
4. Take a deep breath as if you are about to blow the bubbles and WAIT.
5. Say ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ when you blow the bubbles. On the next turn, say ‘Ready, Set…’ and WAIT.
Remember the WAIT until your child communicates with you. This could be by vocalising, making eye contact, reaching towards the bubbles, signing, hand leading, putting the bubbles in your hand, saying a word or a whole sentence!
19. Understanding and Using Describing Words
Bubble Talk: Invest in a set of bubble blowers that look different. They might differ by colour, size or shape of the bubble blower. Talk about what the bubbles look like and where the bubbles are floating to! Are the bubbles floating up or down? Are they big bubbles or little bubbles?
If your child is learning more difficult describing words, talk about and demonstrate the following concepts: wet/dry, fast/slow, full/empty and clean/dirty.
20. Learning Body Parts
Bubble Bath Time: Blow bubbles during bath time onto your little one’s body, and name the body parts that they land on together. Bubbles will sit longer on wet skin before popping, so bath-time makes the perfect time for learning body parts!
21. Learning to Follow Directions
Bubble Simon Says: Give your child instructions on how to pop the bubbles with each turn. You can clap them, poke them, kick them, pinch them or jump on them! The possibilities are endless! Make the instructions more difficult by giving your child a sequence of movements to follow.
By Alana Noakes
Senior Speech Pathologist
Through exploring bubbles Children Learn
- About cause and effect
- Visual tracking and reading skills
- Hand-eye co-ordination
- Imagination and creativity
- Science facts and skills.
Introduce the concept of bubbles through movement and music
Wear flowing clothes and move lightly to enhance the central concept of floating. Children will also need light clothing. Gather them in front of you – and any pictures, explaining that you’re going to float like bubbles today. Show your bubble bottle and blow some bubbles for them to watch. Let them stand and try catching some, stopping before frustration builds. Make bubble shapes together, first with one hand, then two, then with arms for giant bubbles. Will they pop? Drift, bob and twirl around like bubbles.
Explore bubble movements using this link to calming music
- Children concentrate on blowing bubbles
- They lead and guide enactments of these and similar items.
- They practise control in their fluid, flowing movements.
- They engage in games with bubbles
First, Bubble Mixture
You can buy bubble mixture really cheaply these days.
However, you can also make your own. I use:
1 part washing up liquid
4 parts water
(Optional) Some glycerine
The glycerine is very much an optional extra, but it does apparently help the bubbles to get a lot bigger. To be honest, though, I never really use it.
To make the perfect bubble mixture here are some pointers:
- Make is a couple of days before. This allows it to settle.
- Make sure everything you use to make it is clean – i.e. the bowls, spoons and everything else. Any dirt will effect the quality of the bubbles
- Use a washing up liquid that doesn’t smell too fruity, to discourage any children that may want to drink it. Some washing up liquid smells delicious, and this is best avoided.
Suggestions for additional demonstration:
- Feathers (shop-bought, washed). Try: www.tts-group.co.uk/brightly-coloured-feathers-14g/1004315.html. Cut off stems before handing out.
- Tissue paper (cut shapes from sheets)
- Paper darts (hand-make)
Suggestions for play items:
- Toy birds, angels, fairies, glider planes, butterflies, dressing-up clothes representing winged creatures, tissue shapes, paper darts
Making different bubbles
Video link of how to make a bubble snake
Straws Stuck Together
This is a really super simple one!
Get a few straws, probably about ten, and simply tape them together. Some kind of simple tape like Sellotape would work fine.
The top tip for this one, is the ends of the straws need to be level at both ends.
Dip the straws into the bubble mixture and blow through!
You get a kind of foam, with lots of bubbles stuck together. Hours of fun once again.
I’m talking here about the kind of cone you might have in your kitchen for pouring things like gravy into a jug!
These make awesome bubble blowers!
Another super simple one!
Get a plastic bottle and cut the bottom off. Try not to get any jagged bits if you can.
Then dip this into some bubble mixture and try blowing some bubbles.
Sticks Bubble Wands
This is another one that you really must try!
This is a great natural forest school activity. It is excellent for their fine motor skills.
Find some sticks from somewhere, and the only other thing you need are some pipe-cleaners.
Twist the pipe-cleaners into a circle shape with a bit sticking out. Then you twist the bit sticking out round the stick.
Dip into water and use as a DIY bubble wand!
Top tip – the wands work better when they get a little bit wet, so you will get better bubbles after a few minutes of use.
Natural DIY bubble wands
There are quite a few bubble machines you can get these days, and they are pretty cheap as well.
These are fantastic for really young children, who find it quite hard actually blowing bubbles.
You simply put the bubble machine on, and watch your children running round popping bubbles.
4 Paper Cones
All you need for this is some pieces of A4 paper (or similar). Pieces of scrap paper are totally fine.
Roll the pieces of paper into a cone shape, and then trim the larger end so that it is flat.
Dip the flat wider end into bubble mixture and blow through the other end to create bubbles.
This fun to do with some paint added to the bubble mixture.
I tried this with some grey paint, and the children blew grey bubbles onto some huge pieces of paper. They looked like craters on some kind of alien planet. Hours of fun.
Hoola Hoop Bubbles
You need good quality bubble mixture to pull this one off.
A smaller hoop is easier to do it with. A larger one is really hard. There are different games you can do, but the one that really works is this…
Fill a paddling pool with a thin layer of bubble mixture. Then a child would stand in the paddling pool inside a hoola hoop. The adult lifts the hoop up and tries to create a huge bubble that the child is standing inside.
Some top tips to get it working are:
- Move the hula hoop upwards quite quick
- Get that mixture right!
- Clean the pool first
Blowing Through Tubes
Bubble play in water trays is great for deep breathing, curiosity, and generating talk.
Give them a selection of straws, tubes, and pipes to blow through, with bubble mixture in a trough or water tray.
They blow through and see what kind of bubbles they can make!
This is a really simple and fun game, that lots of younger children seem to play more or less instinctively.
Someone blows the bubbles, and the children go round trying to clap and pop them!
This is great for really young children, anywhere from walking age up to probably 4 or 5.
Ways to extend this could include:
- Play as a team game, with one person blowing bubbles, and the others popping
- Pop your friend’s bubbles and then swap
- Use a bubble machine
2.Let Them Hit The Floor
This one takes self-discipline, and a bit of self restraint.
This is probably best done as a structured adult-led activity.
Basically one person blows a bubble, or some bubbles in the air. No one is allowed to touch them! You just watch as they gently float down to the floor and pop.
This teaches children:
- Self restraint – curbing the urge to pop them
3.Trying To Catch A Bubble
This is quite a bit trickier than it sounds.
Basically you blow some bubbles, or you get your friends to do that.
Then you try to catch them in your hands without popping them.
This takes quite a lot of concentration, and critical thinking. There are definitely tactics involved in thinking the best way to catch them without them going pop.
You can extend this by trying:
- To catch more than one at the same time
- To catch your friend’s bubble and they catch yours
- Bubble Painting
This is a classic bubble game. The big thing is just to be sure the children are going to blow and not suck. To an extent this is the case with all bubbles games.
Some top tips to check they blow rather than suck in any game include:
- Use a small amount of bubble mixture. This helps so you can see if it goes down or not
- Use the green washing up liquid if you make your own bubble mixture. This sounds a bit random, but some washing up liquids just smell far too nice! Some are cherry, or strawberry, or lemon, and they are just a bit too tasty smelling to young children. Go with the green one, which to most doesn’t smell as good
- Have a practice before you blow! The easiest way of doing this is to blow onto your hand
Right, here’s how you do bubble painting.
Pour some paint into some bubble mixture and give it a good stir.
Then pour the mixture into a smallish pot. Get the children to blow using straws into the bubble mixture. Lots of bubbles will pop out!
Then you get a piece of paper and press it onto the bubbles. A beautiful bubble picture will be the result. Good luck!
4.Bubble Maths Games
The last eight ideas all link really well to maths
Counting something that moves is quite a different skill to counting something that stays still. Also some objects are permanent and some only temporary – they last for a few seconds, then poof they are gone.
Bubbles are great for both of these concepts. They move about and they only have a short lifespan.
There are so many exciting bubble activities, and many of these can be linked to maths.
5. Blowing Bubbles In A Bowl
For this you need some bubble mixture (either bought or homemade), small bowls and straws. This can also be done in a larger format in a water tray or big trough (and forget the bowls).
The idea is that the children have a small amount of bubble mixture in a bowl, and one straw. They blow into the bubble mixture. This makes multiple bubbles mushroom up out of the bowl.
The idea is that you then pop and count. This is great for 1:1 counting, and cementing in your head that you point as you say one number. If you want to find out more about what one to one correspondence is, and how to teach it, then check this out.
Simply go ‘1,2,3…’ and keep popping and counting. An excellent strategy for lower ability children, or those struggling with 1:1. Pretty much any children will enjoy and benefit from this.
Read the instructions and watch the demo video to play a coordinates bubble pop game (It's based on battleships).
Have you ever wanted to make massive bubbles. This is how. First a guide on how to make the correct solution that works and then the bubble wand. Enjoy making it. Mel