Speech and Language Development Through Play: Ball Games!

Enrichment Therapies

May 23, 2017

By: Megan Van Laar, M.A., CCC-SLP

It’s time for my next post in this series!  If you missed my previous posts, check out how to use puzzles and blocks while developing speech and language.  Today we will talk about how we can work on speech, language, and reading skills while playing ball games. Bouncing/rolling/throwing ball back and forth: When passing a ball back and forth with a partner, your student can work on various speech, language, and spelling skills.  For each pass, your student can practice saying words or phrases that contain a target speech sound.  He can follow directions such as, “turn in a circle before you pass the ball” or “roll the ball to me first, then touch your nose, then clap your hands.”  Your student can also practice spelling sight words- each player alternates saying the next letter in a word as he throws the ball to the next person. Shooting baskets/throwing ball into bucket: Tape marks can be placed on the ground either in a circle around the basket or bucket or in a line that gets progressively farther away.  For articulation practice, the student must say three accurate productions of their speech sound before getting a chance to toss the ball at the target from the first tape mark.  After three more productions, they may move to the next tape mark.  The same process may be followed while the student names the sound of consonants and/or vowels and vowel combinations or while reading or spelling sight words or nonsense words.  For language practice, each tape mark could represent a direction the student must follow or a vocabulary word they must define and put into a sentence. Bowling: If you have a toy bowling set, you are good to go!  Otherwise, you can set up blocks, empty shoe boxes, stuffed animals, paper cups, etc., and roll a ball to knock them down.  Underneath each “pin”, place a card that has either a word with a target speech sound, a vocabulary word, a direction, a vowel combination or a sight word.  For every pin the child knocks down, he must complete the task that was under it. For the little ones: There are many different skills that can be addressed using a ball while playing with a toddler and preschool-aged kiddos.  Passing a ball back and forth is an excellent turn-taking activity and it can reinforce joint attention, eye contact, and imitation of actions.  The child can also learn to expand his attention span when asked to wait an extra second or two before the ball is passed to him.  You might say “ready, set….” and encourage your child to say “go!” before you pass him the ball.  You might hide the ball and talk about where it is (under the chair, next to the TV, on top of the table, etc.).  If you have more than one ball, you can practice sorting them into colors or sizes.

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.


740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317



5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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